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Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park

A concentration of largely unexcavated archaeological, historic and living cultural heritage properties cradled in an impressive landscape which includes prehistoric (chalcolithic) sites, a hill fortress of an early Hindu capital, and remains of the 16th-century capital of the state of Gujarat. The site also includes, among other vestiges, fortifications, palaces, religious buildings, residential precincts, agricultural structures and water installations, from the 8th to 14th centuries. The Kalikamata Temple on top of Pavagadh Hill is considered to be an important shrine, attracting large numbers of pilgrims throughout the year. The site is the only complete and unchanged Islamic pre-Mughal city.

Justification for Inscription

Criterion (iii): The Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park with its ancient Hindu architecture, temples and special water retaining installations together with its religious, military and agricultural structures, dating back to the regional Capital City built by Mehmud Begda in the 16th century, represents cultures which have disappeared.

Criterion (iv): The structures represent a perfect blend of Hindu-Moslem architecture, mainly in the Great Mosque (Jami Masjid), which was a model for later mosque architecture in India. This special style comes from the significant period of regional sultanates.

Criterion (v): The Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park is an outstanding example of a very short living Capital, making the best use of its setting, topography and natural features. It is quite vulnerable due to abandonment, forest takeover and modern life.

Criterion (vi): The Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park is a place of worship and continuous pilgrimage for Hindu believers.

The Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park is located in the western Indian state of Gujarat. While Pavagadh is located on an 800m high hill, Champaner is the area that sprawls beneath it. Together the area contains structures from the 8th to the 16th century, some of which are still to be excavated. The presence of a hill fortress and remnants of a 16th-century capital points to the strategic importance of this area. The structures that have been found here give evidence of the existence of a full-fledged urban complex. The site also has buildings which show the blending of Hindu and Muslim architectural traditions. It was declared as a World Heritage Site in 2004.

Although there is evidence that the site had been inhabited since the prehistoric (chalcolithic) period, it was only in the medieval times that it gained importance in the region. During the period of decline of the Sultanate in Delhi, regional kingdoms were left free to pursue their territorial ambitions. In the power play that ensued, the kingdoms of Malwa and Gujarat emerged dominant in the west. If any king had to rule over either of these, then controlling the Champaner-Pavagadh area was crucial because it was an important junction connecting Gujarat to Malwa. Inscriptional evidence suggests that the Khichi Chauhan Rajputs from Mewar held Champaner-Pavagadh in the 1300s. In 1484 Mahmud Begada, the Sultan of Gujarat, defeated the last Chauhan ruler and took over the area. To pursue his military designs against Malwa, Mahmud shifted his capital from Ahmedabad to Champaner.

Mahmud then set out to build a capital city here, complete with civil, military and religious structures, laying down new roads, fortifications, bridges, and gardens. In keeping with the tradition of the area, he also made many water harvesting structures such as lakes, ponds, wells, step-wells, and tanks. The city also had buildings which catered to civilian needs, such as sarais (lodging or rest house), markets, graveyards and places of leisure such as the Kabutarkhana. The art and architecture of the buildings followed the Indo-Islamic tradition. The Jama Masjid stood out as a classic example of this, with its intricate carvings, perforated stone screen works, and the classical Gujarati style balcony-windows. The Lakulisa Temple, Jain temples and the Kalika Mata temple on the Pavagadh hill also were constructed.

The place went into a decline after the second Mughal emperor, Humayun, after being ousted as Emperor of India, attacked and plundered the city to fund his campaign to regain Delhi. The Sultans of Gujarat then once again shifted the capital to Ahmedabad. After its abandonment, the city went into decline. However, with the archaeological excavations that have taken place since the 1970s, it has emerged as the only complete and unchanged Islamic Pre-Mughal city. People still throng the 10th - 11th century Kalika Mata temple, which is considered as a major Shakti Peetha of Gujarat.