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About Champaner - Gujarat Tourism

Champaner is a very unique city, which tourists find very interesting, as the city grew from being a small place to a capital of kingdom and then was left entirely deserted. Champaner is among the few cities in India that were once the center of development, and later was left deserted in ruins and rubbles. However, tourists will still find the city as a showcase to its past glory and grandeur with some of the best architecture and archaeological specimens like forts, palaces, mosques, temples, stepwells and granaries.

Built in the late 15th century, as the capital of Gujarat in a complete Islamic (pre-Mughal) style, the Champaner city is home to a rich architectural heritage showing the transition between the Hindu and Muslim traditions. Travellers will find the entire landscape of city being covered with remains of fort walls, ruined tombs, gardens, arches, pillars and wells. Champaner-Pavagadh can be considered as one of the most important tourist sites in Western India, which was also declared as a UNESCO world heritage site.

Situated in the Halol-Panchmahal of Gujarat, Champaner is a picturesque town at the foothill of Pavagadh about 47 km from Vadodara. The Pavagadh hill with its reddish-yellow colored stone formation, rises from Champaner in three fortifications - the base (Champaner), the top (Pavagadh) and the area connecting both of them (Machi).

The archaeological tourist attractions of Chamapner are clubbed into the Archaeological park that includes the numerous historical and heritage monuments spread out in the area. The main tourist attractions in the archaeological park are Kevada Masjid, Champaner Fort, Jami Masjid, Amir Manzil, Saat Kamaan, and Nagina Masjid. Champaner is also an important pilgrimage travel site that is frequented by thousands of Hindu pilgrims who come here to pay tribute at Mahakali temple located on the Pavagadh hill.

Champaner Architecture - GujaratTourism

Champaner was strategically built as a fortification that was designed in successive layers from top to bottom of the hill. The fort walls were built as high as 10 metres, and with strategic buildings in between to hold weapons etc.

The main township at the base of hill in Champaner (Pavagadh) included Hissar-i-khas and Jama Masjid. The township had 9 major gates with the Jami Masjid at the centre and separate mosques near most of the gates.

The water collection system of Champaner was very interesting with reservoirs built to hold streams running downwards from hill during monsoon, and interconnected reservoirs that were built to empty overflow of water eventually ending in the largest lake called Vada Talav. In addition, multiple stepwells helped augment the water supply, as did systems of collecting rooftop rainwater into small tanks for individual buildings.

Champaner History - Gujarat Tourism

Champaner was founded by Chavda king, Vanraj Chavda, in the 8th century. King Chavda named Champaner after his friend, general Champa. The Chauhan Rajputs captured Champaner and Pavagadh in 1300 AD and controlled the Pavagadh fort situated till 15th century. Champaner was later captured by Mahmud Begada in 1484, sultan of Gujarat who defeated King Jayasimha and took control of Pavagadh fort. With hundreds of kilometers of vast plains west and north of the hill, Pavagadh gave rulers a strategic position overlooking the routes into Gujarat from the south and south-east.

Sultan Mahmud later developed Champaner as a town of palaces, Mosques and buildings. It took 23 years to complete the construction of the massive project. Muhammad Begada finally named the town as Muhammadabad. It soon gained amazing popularity and was established as one of the glorious towns of western India. It became a major trade center dealing in fine silk, woven and dyed textile and sword manufacturing. Sultan Mahmud later shifted the capital of kingdom to Ahmedabad and Champaner succumbed to attacks of Mughal emperor Humayun in 1535.

Because the Mughals had captured both Gujarat and Malwa, the city no longer had any strategic value as a buffer, and the capital was moved back to Ahmedabad. For the next four centuries or so, the city was in decline. While at one point it was occupied by the Marathas, it was never given any importance, and some records from this period indicate that while some inhabitants remained, much of the city was overrun by the surrounding forest as the decades and centuries passed. Only scant references exist from a few Islamic (and one Portuguese) writers of the period.


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