Pavagadh is a hill station in the Panchmahal District of Gujarat. This village is predominantly inhabited by the Rathwas.
The UNESCO had designated the Pavagadh – Champaner Archaeological Park as a World Heritage site in the year 2004.
Pavagadh is a part of Champaner town. History states that the Vanraj Chauda of the Chaudha dynasty had founded this town in the 8th century in memory and named it as Champaner in memory of his late minister Champa. In 1300 AD, the Chauhan Rajputs captured the town and they ruled the place for two hundred years. This was followed by the Patai Raval family who took care of the territory. It remained the capital of Gujarat till 1536. Legend states that Goddess Mahakali disguised in an attire of a village girl did the Garbha dance with the folks on Navarathri day. It seems, the last of the Patai dynasty, Jaisinh had been entranced with the girl and had demeaned her with his crafty looks. The Goddess in a rage, cursed him. The kingdom was attacked and taken over by a Muslim ruler, Mahmud Begada in 1484 after laying siege to the town for 20 months. In the battle Jaisinh was killed. Mahmud Begada started developing Champaner, renamed it Muhammadabad and even made it the capital, shifting the capital from Ahmedabad. The place was conquered by Humayun in 1535 and transferred the administration and capital back to Ahmedabad.
History has recorded that this was one town that was a small village that gathered prominence at one period of time and then was forgotten and was left to ruin and decline, with the forests reclaiming it once more. A few Islamic and a Portuguese traveller have mentioned about Champaner in the annals of history.
The British took the over the reins of this place in the year 1803 and discovered the ruins and the monuments and a population of 500 people. The fort which they discovered had heavy fortifications with a 10 meter high wall and places for emplacements and catapults. The fort enclosure had a royal palace (Hissar-e-Khas) and a Jami Masjid in the centre. There were nine gates and the fort was self sufficient with reservoirs, granaries, multiple – step wells and rainwater catchment areas on rooftops.
It is also said that Champaner got its name from the yellow flower’ Champak’, which is the colour of the stones in the area. The area is mountainous and there are a few waterfalls in the place.
PLACES TO VISIT
- Mahakali Temple: The temple has special significance in that both Hindus and Muslims revere this temple. There are three forms of the Goddess; the main image being Kalika Mata with Kali and Bahucharamata on the sides. It is believed that Goddess Parvathi’s right toe fell here when her body was cut into pieces. The aggrieved Lord Shiva had been carrying the inanimate form of the Goddess and the God Vishnu smelling trouble, threw his discus to cut the body in to pieces. It is one of the 51 Shakthi Peeths. It is known for tantric worship. The Muslims have a mazar on the top floor. The spire of the temple has the shrine of Sadanandasha Pir, a Muslim saint held in reverence in this area. The temple is on a cliff and there is a rope way known as ‘Maha Kali Udan Khatola’. The temple is accessible on foot also. There are 250 steps to the temple. The altitude at which the temple is situated is 550 metres.
- Sadanshah Pir Dargah: This Dargah is located a bit further from the Kali temple.
- Lakulisa Temple: Perhaps the oldest temple dating back to 10-11th century.The temple is in ruins save the sanctum sanctorum. The Gods are Lakulisa, Dakshinamurthy, Brahma, Vishnu, Gajendramoksha, Indira, Ambika and Surasundari.
- The Jain Temples: There are three distinct groups of Jainism preached in the 13-14th century. Bhavanendri Temple, and the Navallaka Temples, of which, the second one honours the Jain saints, Thirthankara Suparsva and Thirthankara Chandraprabha and the third temple is near the Parsvanath temple.
- Champaner Fort: There were gates and fortifications in this fort. The pavilions were known as pleasure pavilions. There was a pond called Kasbi Talao known to have been used by courtesans.
- Jami Masjid: Built by Sultan Begada, it has a blend of Hindu and Muslim architecture. There are 172 pillars and high domes and the walls are ornately decorated. It is one of the finest mosques in Western India. The pulpit, on both sides have scripts of Koran engraved.
- Begada Palace: the ruins of which are still seen in Vad Talav, 2 kms. from Champaner.
- Rangpur Ashram: The founder Hari Parikh, runs this ashram for the development and welfare of the tribals.
- Machi Haveli: This is a plateau at an altitude of 490 metres
- Raval Palace: Now in ruins, is in Machi.
- Pavagadh Fort: Now in ruins, have Jain and Hindu temples that are also in ruins. This fort had excellent fortifications with place for artillery emplacements and for troops to move around. There were places for catapults. Sadly, only the stone pillars that made the catapult are visible. The stones and boulders that had been used during wars lay on the ground below the fort.
There are other sites like the Jahanpanah, Atak Fort, Budhiya Gate, Moti Gate (Sadanshah Gate), Sath Manzil, Gulan Bulan Gate at Machi, Buland Darwaza, Palace of Patai Raval (these ruins can be seen on the way to Kalika Mata temple), Makai Kothar, Makai Gate, Tarapore Gate, Navlaka Kothar, Lili Gumbaz Masjid, Sahar Ki Masjid, Uohra Mosque, Kirtistambh, The temple of Shalk, Nagina Mosque and Kevada mosque.
Pavagadh is at an altitude of 822 metres and trekking is an activity in the area. There are a lot of monuments, forts and other historical places that are worth seeing. Historians quote that only a very small part of Pavagadh-Champaner has been discovered as a major part has been enveloped by the forests.
Pavagadh is 26 kms. from Vadodara, formerly Baroda. There are regular buses from Vadodara to Champaner. The nearest railway station is also at Vadodara. The airports are at Vadodara and Ahmedabad (190 kms.)
WHEN TO GO
The best time to visit Pavagadh is from October to March. The summers are very hot and temperatures could touch 32-400C.