Champaner-Pavagadh : The Forgotten City
I have been extensively photographing the UNESCO World Heritage Site - Champaner-Pavagadh since over the last two decades, trying to capture its various moods in different seasons, at various times of the day and year.
World Heritage Site Champaner-Pavagadh is less than an hour's drive from Baroda (now Vadodara), with a history that dates from 2nd century AD and dotted with Rajput-Hindu, Jain and Islamic secular and religious monuments. Spread over more than 6 sq km, it comprises the fortified sacred hill of Pavagadh with the ancient Kalikamata Temple at its summit, and at its foot, the ruins and buried remains of Champaner, the sprawling, prosperous medieval capital city built by the pre-Mughal Sultans of Gujarat.
Champaner-Pavagadh has a truly impressive setting. The spectacular reddish-yellow Pavagadh hill, which contains some of the oldest rock formations in India, rises to a height of 800m above sea level. On the east, the land slopes gently with dramatic plateaus in between. From the highest point of the hill one can see an undulating landscape covered with the famous forests of Champaner towards Jambughoda. The hills cradle the deserted capital of Muhammed Begada and the scene is interspersed with tanks, waterways, fort walls, bastions and other fragments of medieval military architecture.
The sacred Pavagadh hill is part of the cultural landscape and eloquent local myths and legends about its prosperous bygone days and valiant heroes, are kept alive in the form of the oral folk traditions of the Garba and Bhavai. As one of the prominent Shaktipeeths of Hindu religion, the hill itself is as sacred and holy as the Goddess' Yantra installed in the Kalikamata Temple at the summit of the hill.
For a number of years, Pavagadh was ruled by the Khichi Chauhans (descendants of Prithviraj Chauhan) who had fortified the hill. As Champaner-Pavagadh was on the strategic trade route to Malwa, Mehmud Begda (grandson of Ahmed Shah who established Ahmedabad) was interested in capturing it. He succeeded after several years of siege during which he had already begun building Champaner city at the base of Pavagadh, later making it his capital.
Champaner-Pavagadh is perhaps the most authentic medieval city in India as all the information about the original city is available below the ground. The untouched nature of this information is significant to understand Medieval Sultanate capitals of regional India as predecessors of later Mughal style of architecture.
These breathtaking images of Champaner-Pavagadh, bring alive the ancient heritage site that exists simultaneously and wondrously in mythical, historical and contemporary times. Temples and shrines, monuments and mosques, ruins and fortifications, pathways and water bodies, dot the site, confirming the deep relationship between various layers of the past and the present.
These Archival prints are made on archival paper and inks on state-of-the-art printmaking equipment. The selection of prints in this collection are some of the most sensitively photographed and produced images.
Click on images below to view