Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is located in Panchmahal District in Gujarat, India. It is located around the historical city of Champaner, a city which was built by Sultan Mahmud Begada of Gujarat. The heritage site is studded with forts with bastions starting from the hills of Pavagadh, and extending into the city of Champaner. The park's landscape includes archaeological, historic and living cultural heritage monuments such as chalcolithic sites, a hill fortress of an early Hindu capital, and remains of the 16th-century capital of the state of Gujarat.
There are palaces, entrance gates and arches, mosques, tombs and temples, residential complexes, agricultural structures and water installations such as stepwells and tanks, dating from the 8th to the 14th centuries. The Kalika Mata Temple, located on top of the 800 metres (2,600 ft) high Pavagadh Hill, is an important Hindu shrine in the region, attracting large numbers of pilgrims throughout the year.
The transition between Hindu and Muslim culture and architecture in the late 15th to early 16th century is documented in the park, particularly the early Islamic and pre-Mughal city that has remained without any change. It was inscribed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 2004.
The Champaner-Pavagadh heritage site is spread over an area of more than 1,329 hectares (3,280 acres) with a buffer zone of 2,812 hectares (6,950 acres). In addition to the Primary Heritage Zone of 983.27 hectares (2,429.7 acres), there are several other sites which include: Kabutarkhana, Maqbara, Maqbara Mandvi, Maqbara near Patidar Village, Malik Sandal Ni Vav, Hathikhana, Sindh Mata, Sikander Ka Reuza, Babakhan Ki Dargah, Nau Kuan Sat Vavdi, and Chandrakala Vav.
The site is 50 kilometres (31 mi) east of Baroda and 42 miles (68 km) south of Godhra, whose history is recorded from the 2nd century AD and which has many religious monuments of Gujarati Sultans (of Turkish descent), Rajputs, and Jains. It includes the Palace of Mahmud Begada, grandson of Ahmed Shah, who founded Ahmedabad City, Jama Masjid and other mosques. The setting is undulating hillocks and plateaus. There are steep rock exposures formed by ancient volcanic eruptions and lava flows.
Judging by early archaeological remains and according to records, the area had already been inhabited in the chalcolithic period; however, it remained neglected until approximately 400 AD. The history also reports a local legend that the divinity of the hills was derived from the right toe of the goddess Kalika, which had apparently fallen on the hill.
The British visited the town of Champaner in 1803, at which time there were only 500 people residing there. The old city was in ruins and wildly overgrown. They refounded it and it became a great exporter of silk, with facilities for washing and preparing raw silk. However, a cholera epidemic reduced the population to 400 families by 1812. When the British finally usurped the area on 13 July 1829, it was almost deserted; efforts at that time to populate the place by inducting cultivators with an incentive of Rs 1260 to develop the lands at that time also failed. In 1879, a few Bhil and Naikda tribes resided there, but over the next few years, it became well known in India for its rulers and the monuments left behind by them.
Remaining at the site are the Royal precincts within fortified walls, the entrance gate or the city gate, the mosque outside the fortifications, the royal walkway leading into the palace, and the second enclosure consisting of unexplored Jahanpanah. The urban planning of the city reveals well laid and paved streets which lead to the city centre. The residential area consists of houses of both rich and poor; rich people’s houses are built with scenic gardens and water channels.
Public parks and pavilions surround the housing complex. However, temples, mosques and tombs are mostly concentrated in the Pavagarh Hills. The walk up the hill from the plains is called the Patha (pilgrim's route); considered to be the "soul of Champaner”, it has thousands of steps and is embellished with ornamental and essential structures.
There are eleven different types of buildings at Champaner-Pavagadh, including mosques, temples, granaries, tombs, wells, walls, and terraces. The monuments are situated at the foot of and around the Pavagadh hill. The Heritage Trust of Baroda lists 114 monuments in the area, of which only 39 monuments are maintained by the Archeological Survey of India, due to limited funding. The Forest Department owns 94% of the land here, while the temple trusts and other sectarian establishments provide facilities for boarding and lodging to the pilgrims and tourists. On the southern side near the foot of the hill some dilapidated houses and the foundations of Jain Temples can also be seen.
The earliest temple on Pavagadh hill in the Mauliya plateau is dated to the 10th–11th century and is dedicated to Lakulish. However, the temple is in ruins, with only the gudha mandapa (sanctum sanctorum) and Ardha mandapa part of the antarala now present. Lakulish, Dakshinmurthi, Brahma, Vishnu, Gajendramoksha, various forms of Shiva, Indra, seated Ambika and Surasundaris are the images seen in this temple.
The temple was built in the Hindu temple architecture style of architecture with garbhagriha, mandapa and an entrance porch. It had ornate decorations, mostly consisting of stone carvings. While this oldest temple is in a dilapidated condition and not in use, all the other temples are used as places of worship. They have ornate decorations, mostly stone carvings.
The custom house was probably used as a guard room. It is well planned in a square shape with five rows of arches and five equal colonnaded aisles. From this location to the east gate, the view of present-day Champaner consists of shabby houses on a lone street. Kabutarkhana Pavilion is situated on the north bank of Bada Talao near Khajuri Masjid. Another building with columns is also located on the Pavagadh Hill, above the roof of the Mahakali temple.