History About Panchmahal (Godhra)

History About Panchmahal (Godhra)

panchamahalThe history of Panchmahals district revolves around the city of Champaner. It was established in 7th century (647) in the territory of King Vanraj of Solanki dynasty. In the 13th century, Chauhans acquired the city from Muslim rulers under Alauddin Khilji. Their rule continued until 1484, when Sultan Mohammad Begda of Gujarat captured the city. Thereafter Godhra became center of the district under the Mughal Empire (1575 to 1727).
Panchmahal were conquered from the Mughal Empire by the Maratha general Sindhia in the 18th century. In the course of time, Sindhia dynasty became Maharajas of Gwalior and, after 1818, were forced to recognize British sovereignty. The Panch Mahals were transferred in 1861 by the Sindhias to British India, where they became a district in the Gujarat Division of Bombay Province. The British district consisted of two parts, the “western mahals” and the “eastern mahals,” which were divided by the territories of Baria (Devgadh) and Sanjeli states. The western portion was for the most part a level plain of rich soil; while the eastern portion, although it comprised few fertile valleys, was generally rugged, undulating and barren, with little cultivation. The area of the British district was 1606 sq. mi., and the population was 261,020 in 1901. The administrative headquarters were at Godhra with a population (1901) of 20,915. The ruins of Champaner, the former capital of a Hindu kingdom and later of the Sultans of Gujarat, was included in the district. It was the only district of Bombay presidency that is administered on the non-regulation system, the Collector being also the agent to the Governor General of India (Political Agent) for Rewa Kantha Agency.
The mineral products comprised sandstone, granite and other kinds of building stone. Mining for manganese on a large scale was begun by a European firm. The principal crops were maize, millets, rice, pulse and oilseeds; there were manufactures of lac bracelets and lacquered toys; the chief export was timber. Both portions of the district were crossed by the branch of the Baroda, Bombay & Central India Railways (B.B.&C.I.R) from Anand, through Godhra and Dahod, to Ratlam; a chord line was opened in 1904 from Godhra to Baroda city. The district suffered very severely from the famine of 1899-1900, and its population decreased 17% from 1891 to 1901 owing to the famine. In 1960, Gujarat State was created and Panchmhals became one of the districts in the state, with district headquarters at Godhra. In 1997, District Panchmahals was divided into two districts Panchmahals (with district headquarters at Godhra) and a new district of Dahod was created.
Champaner is a World Heritage Site. Pavagarh hosts a temple of Kalika mata, whose holy shrine attracts about two million pilgrims per annum.

History About Champaner (World Heritage – UNESCO)

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.

Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park (UNESCO/NHK)

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 … Source: UNESCO TV / © NHK Nippon Hoso Kyokai URL: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1101/

Tourist Guides from Panchmahal

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Long Description

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 a perfect blend of Hindu and Muslim 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. It is furthermore an outstanding example of a very short-lived capital, making the best use of its setting, topography and natural

The sites are at the foot of and around the Pavagadh hill, surrounded by lower hillocks, escarpments and plateaux, all result of volcanic eruptions and lava flows. At the top of the hill is the temple of Kalikameta. The site itself comprises fortifications, water installations and standing structures from the 8th to 14th centuries as well as a deserted city of Mahmud Begharha. It includes also the living village, Champaner, within the area of the historic town. There are two precincts. The first is the Royal Enclosure, fortified by high defensive stone walls, with towers and gates, which formerly housed palaces, gardens, royal mosque and administrative buildings, and is now the site of the modern village and government offices. Most of the precinct is buried and unexcavated.

A processional way links the royal palace, through the city gate, with the mosque, outside the precinct. The second precinct, called Jahanpanah, is also unexcavated. It was the capital of Begharha, and abandoned in the mid-16th century when conquered by the Mughal Empire. The urban plan has been studied by exposing the main road system, comprising well-built and paved streets, all leading from the surrounding fortifications to the centre of the city.

The whole area is now an excavation site which includes residential areas for the wealthy and more common people, with gardens and water channels being part of the design; shops and commercial areas along some streets; pavilions and public gardens; mosques located in and near residential areas. Next to the mosques there are graveyards and mausolea, temples, located mainly on the Pavagadh hill, belong to different Hindu deities. The temples are richly decorated, mainly with stone carvings.

The Patha (pilgrim’s route) is considered to be the ‘soul’ of Champaner. The city’s life and development were always closely linked with the pilgrim’s road. It climbs from the plateau to the top of Pavangadh hill, consisting of thousands of steps and all kinds of decorative and functional structures along it. Mosques are some of the most monumental and important architectural elements on site. Some are forerunners of Mughal architecture, mixing Hindu traditions and craftsmanship with Muslim ideology. The structural systems also indicate the earlier Hindu elements and later Muslim ‘import’ such as large domes.

Tomb structures are almost all square in plan, with a dome resting on columns. They are highly decorated and often linked to a mosque.

Military architecture includes the fortifications by walls and bastions, barracks and camps well built, as well as prisons. Numerous gates lead the pilgrims to the top of Pavagadh hill. Others are openings in defensive structures such as the city wall or palaces.

The palaces, mostly in a ruinous state, in most cases included gardens and fortifications. Pavilions form an essential characteristic feature of the gardens within palaces and outside them. These are considered to be pleasure pavilions, for which Champaner was renowned.

Water installations are integral and important to the culture and design of Champaner. Different kinds of wells are known in the whole area – many of which still in use. During the 15th century the water system was used for pleasure and aesthetic purposes as well as for daily use. Some houses had running water and many of the gardens and pavilions were decorated with water channels.1

Source: UNESCO/CLT/WHC

Historical Description

[in French only]Certains vestiges matériels prouvent que cette zone était habitée dès l’époque chalcolithique. Il semble, d’après les découvertes actuelles, que le site fut abandonné vers l’an 400 apr. J.-C.

L’histoire du site est marquée d’une composante immatérielle importante : celle de la légende qui raconte que la colline Pavagadh est le lieu où tomba l’orteil droit de la déesse Kalika, d’où la valeur particulière du site, qui ne relève pas uniquement de la réalité historique.

(Aucune mention n’est faite dans le dossier concernant la période comprise entre le Ve et le XIIIe siècle.)

La zone fut conquise au XIIIe siècle par Khichi Chauhans, lequel construisit son premier établissement au sommet de la colline Pavagadh. Les seigneurs de cette dynastie entourèrent de fortifications le plateau au-dessus duquel s’élève la colline. Les temples comptent parmi les vestiges bâtis les plus anciens. Il reste de cette époque d’autres vestiges importants comme les réservoirs d’eau.

Les souverains turcs du Gujarat firent la conquête de Champaner en 1484. En prenant la décision de faire de Champaner sa capitale, Mahmud Begharha amorça la phase historique la plus importante de la cité. La nouvelle ville fut construite au pied de la colline et non pas à son sommet, comme ce fut le cas pour les premières installations. L’architecture traduit parfaitement le statut de capitale et de résidence royale de la ville. Champaner resta la capitale du Gujarat jusqu’en 1536.

Elle fut ensuite abandonnée et ne connut plus d’autres périodes de construction importante. Lorsque les Britanniques investirent la place en 1807, on rapporte que Champaner ne comptait que 500 habitants.

Aujourd’hui, c’est l’importance du caractère religieux du site qui le maintient en vie. Le lieu attire des milliers de pèlerins et de participants à des fêtes et des festivals.

La principale communauté est hindoue. Il y a quelques familles musulmanes et chrétiennes et quelques bergers nomades. Le recensement de 1982 rapporte que la zone comporte une population de 1856 habitants répartis en 387 foyers.

Source: Advisory Body Evaluation