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Champaner & Pavagadh – Guide to a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Gujarat

Champaner and Pavagadh are located in the Panchmahal district of Gujarat which is 45 km from Vadodara. The ruins of Champaner are known for their 16th century monumental mosques with an Indo-Islamic architecture. It is located at the base of the Pavagadh hill which is known for the Mahakali Temple. Champaner – Pavagadh Archaeological Park became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004. This blog post “Champaner & Pavagadh – Guide to a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Gujarat” will give you all the reasons to visit this marvel, especially if you are interested in Indian History.

Why to visit?

If you are someone who is interested in Indian history like me, then these ruins will be one of your places of interest.

Hello from Jami masjid

A Short History

The Rajputs had established themselves in the Pavagadh region in the early 14th century. The Gujarat Sultanate under Mahmud Begada overthrew the Rajputs in the Champaner region in the late 15th century, making Champaner as their capital from Ahmedabad. The Mughals under Humayun captured Champaner in 1536, reverting Ahmedabad as the capital of Gujarat. This short-lived capital of the Gujarat Sultanates fell into ruins.

How to reach?

Champaner is at a distance of 45 km from Vadodara. You will get buses from the Vadodara Central Bus Station to Pavagadh every 30 minutes. The ancient city of Champaner lies right opposite to the Pavagadh bus station.

Pavagadh in Gujarat
Pavagadh Sign Board

Where to stay?

Stay options at Champaner-Pavagadh Archaelogical Park are very minimal and are at least 6-10 km away from the ruins. Below are few of the basic stay options available online
1. OYO 28248 Hotel Balaji Inn
2. OYO 80228 Hotel Richa
3. OYO 80729 Hotel Deep
You will find other stay options not listed online, when you are on Halol-Pavagadh road.

When to visit?

I would suggest monsoon and winters to visit the ancient city and Pavagadh temple. I visited in the month of March and it was blazing hot till the sun had set.

How to commute within the Champaner town?

There are shared autos available within the ancient city. The auto stand is right opposite to the bus stand as soon as you enter the ancient city.

Champaner Entrance

How to visit the Pavagadh Kalika Mata Temple?

There are shared cabs available that will take you up to the hill. You will have to either take the stairs (average time taken by stairs: 1-1.5 hours) after reaching the car parking spot or you will have to take the cable car to reach the temple.

Note: Even if you reach the temple area by a cable car, you will have to take stairs and climb for 20-30 mins for the final ascent to the shrine.

Monuments I visited in Champaner

I got to know from a security guard in one of the monuments that there are around 49 monuments within a radius of 5 km in Champaner. I got a chance to visit Jami Masjid, Shahar ki Masjid, Vada Talav, Khabutar Khana, Sat Manzil, Nagina and Kevada masjids.

You will have to pay an entry ticket of Rs. 40 (offline) or Rs. 35 (online) to enter Jami Masjid and Shaher ki Masjid.

Jami Masjid

It is the biggest and the most famous mosque in Champaner. A visit to Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park is incomplete without visiting this mosque. The Indo-Islamic Architecture of the Gujarat Sultanates is said to be the stimulus behind constructing many such monuments by the Mughals.

The intricately carved domes, stone pillars, minarets and the fine stone jalis will definitely grab your attention. I had spent at least 2 hours in Jami masjid.

You can hire a guide for Rs.300 (25 mins of explanation) to know about the masjid that Google can’t tell you.

Shaher ki Masjid

This was a smaller masjid compared to Jami and this is the first masjid you will easily encounter as soon as you enter the city.
The guide charges Rs.100 for 10 mins of explanation.

Shaher ki masjid
Shaher ki Masjid

Kevada Masjid

This is a quite masjid that is present in the forests of Champaner. You will have to cross Kevada to reach Nagina. I was freaking out seeing just my husband and me, driving down into the forests with no one in sight. It was a relief when I saw the board of Kevada masjid and a security guard standing in.

Kevada Masjid

Nagina Masjid

This was quite far from the rest of the masjids and the way to Nagina Masjid gave an eerie feeling. It was just my husband and me driving down the eerie mud roads covered by thorny plants on both the sides of the road.

As soon as we reached the masjid, we saw 2 security guards surprised seeing someone visit the masjid which is far from the other monuments. While talking to them we came to know a lot about Champaner, the Pavagadh hills and leopards that live near the area that surrounds the masjid.

The tourist time to visit the monuments is between 10 am – 6 pm but in Nagina the time is only till 3 pm because the leopards come down once the sun is hidden behind the hills. Since the guards have spotted the leopards many times, they always try to leave early from their shift, when it comes to Nagina.

It was about 1.30 pm when we planned to leave Nagina masjid. The security guards suggested us to have lunch and then leave to Pavagadh Kalika Mata temple and after returning from the temple, to go to Vadatalav lake and Kabutar Khana during the sunset.

Pavagadh Temple and Trek Experience

We drove to Kalika Mata temple at the top of the Pavagadh hill from Champaner. The roads were butter smooth. We also visited few more ruins like Sat Manzil which was on the way to the temple.

Mahakali temple is said to be at least 1300 years old. It comes under one of the 51 Shakti Peethas. During Navaratri, the temple is said to be flooded with people.

We decided to take the rope car to reach the top of the hill, after which we had to climb 250 odd steps to reach Kali Mata’s shrine. I am attaching the ticket price list from the ticket counter below. While returning back from darshan, we saw a queue to go down the hill via rope car. The wait time was at least an hour and hence my husband and I decided to take the stairs down even though we had the return ticket. Our descend took us 50 minutes.

Bird’s-eye view from hill top

Fun fact: I had the best lime soda in my life while walking towards the Goddess’s shrine. I loved it so much, that I decided to have 3 of those in an hour at various intervals.
Pavagadh Temple timings: 6am – 12pm and 3pm – 7pm

On the way to the shrine

Vadatalav lake and Kabutar Khana

After we descended down the hill, we decided to get ourselves revitalized by the evening breeze of Champaner. The lake and Kabutar Khana were the right place for us to do that and they were opposite to each other.

Hardly any kabutar (pigeon) on a weekend

We left from Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park at around 6 pm in the evening and headed back to Vadodara.

Points to note:

– If you plan to explore the region, ensure you are fit to walk long distances.
– Unless you have brought your own food, finding places which serve food is difficult. We had to travel 7-8 km away from the ruins for lunch.
– We explored only few monuments but it is upto you on how many monuments you would want to visit and how long to stay.
– Beware of leopards and make sure you don’t get into the forest area alone especially when it starts to turn dark.

Click here to read my other blog posts from Gujarat.

Aarthy Chinnaiya

Hola, you travel-prying soul! Welcome to my blog and thanks for stopping by! My name is Aarthy Chinnaiya, exploring new places, food and people gets me excited. I focus on budget travel and exploring places to the fullest in limited number of days (being a Software Engineer I don't get much leaves you see :P). Follow me for a constant dose of my travel stories, experiences, tips and much more.

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