General Information about Champaner
Champaner, situated about 47 kms. north east of Vadodara, stands on a 882 m high in the Girnar Hills, is a UNESCO World Heritage site, Gujarat’s former capital. It is an ancient fort located at the foothills of Pavagadh. The walls at the base of the hill were once 6 kms. long and surround military, civic and religious buildings and complex water harvesting systems.
The town derives its name from the Champa tree or from Champaraja, founder of the town, a contemporary of King Vanraj Chavda of Anhilwada. The entire landscape is scattered around with remains of fort walls, ruined tombs, gardens, arches, pillars and wells. In the old city, the remains of many fine mosques and palaces show a blend of Islamic and Hindu decoration styles, a unique style encouraged by Champaner’s relative isolation.
History of Champaner
Champaner was established as the Chauhan Rajput capital in the 8th century. The town derives its name from the Champa tree or from Champaraja, founder of the town, a contemporary of King Vanraj Chavda of Anhilwada. The famous Muslim king of Gujarat, Muhammad Begada captured the fort in the late 15th century after a long siege against the Khichi Chauhan Rajputs.
On a strategic trade route, it was besieged by Sultan Mahmud Begara, who succeded in taking it in 1484 AD. The fortress was the old capital of the local Rajputs who lost it in 1484 to Sultan Mahmud Beghara who renamed it Muhammadabad. It is said that it took 23 years to build his new city. Many bazaars, ton squares, royal gardens and water structures, including mosques were constructed during these years.
I also became a major trading center producing fine silk, wove and dyed textile and sword manufacturing. Its decline started after attacks by the Mughal Emperor Humayun in 1535 AD. In his campaign in Gujarat, the Mughal Emperor Humayun personally led a small team that scaled the walls of the city using iron spikes and then let the rest of the army in through the main gate.
After the death of Sultan Bahadur Shah in 1536 AD, the royal capital was again moved back to Ahmedabad. With the collapse of the Empire, Champaner passed to the Mughals, Marathas and British. In 1803 AD, when the British took the town, it was overgrown with jungles and had only 500 inhabitants.
How to reach Champaner
The nearest airport is located at Vadodara, which is about 46 kms.
Champaner is a railway station on Vadodara – Godhara railway line.
Champaner is connected by road with all the major cities of Gujarat like Ahmedabad and Vadodara.
Tourist Attractions in Champaner
The Jami Masjid is intact and is a large, richly ornamented mosque modelled on the Friday Mosque at Ahmedabad. This mosque is one of the finest examples of the Sultanate architecture of Gujarat. It is an imposing structure on a high plinth with two tall minarets of 30 meter height, 172 pillars and seven mihrabs.
There are interesting Gujarati features such as oriel windows. This mosque belongs to 1513 and took 125 years to build and has a wonderful carved entrance and imposing courtyard. Inside, the ruler’s prayer hall is divided from the main space by jalis. Behind the building is an octagonal kund (lake), Hauz-i-Vazu, used for washing before prayer.
The lower fortification is the citadel or the Champaner fort. The Champaner Fort was the royal enclosure of Muhammad Begara. It is a perfect rectangle enclosed by the massive walls with huge bastions and entrance gates with carved balconies projecting from top. On the north-west of the citadel is the huge lake – Vada Talav and ruins of Sultan’s Palace.
The ruins of Khapra Zaveri Palace are located on the way from the base to Machi. From its terrace, one can have a fabulous view of the origin of Vishwamitri river. Atak gate is one of the nine gates that leads to the hilltop. It has two catapult stands for hurling stones at the enemies. Other monuments from Machi to hilltop are Makai Kothar – a granary with the fort, Kalika Temple and a shrine of Muslim Saint Sadanshah are located.
The Kalika Mata Temple is situated on the highest peak of the Pavagadh hill. This is one of the most sacred centre of the Hindu pilgrimage for devotees of the Goddess Kali. every year about one million people visit the temple. There is a rope way to reach the temple.
The another important temple is the Lakulish Temple at Chhashia Talav. It has some beautiful sculptures depicting various forms of Shiva – Dakshinamurti, Ardhanarishvara and Kalyanasundaramurti.
Jambughoda is situated about 25 kms. from Champaner. This ex-princely state of Jambughoda, turned sanctuary in 1992 covers an area of 130 square kms. lush countryside.