Sunday, December 30, 2007

Saat Kamaan

Strategically located on the edge of a cliff on the southern side while going uphill from Champaner to Machi, is this wonderful structure. You might just miss it if you are not looking for it, so to say.

Saat Kamaan (Seven Arches) as it is called, now has only six arches remaining and are built out of yellow sandstone. Was this an ornamental structure, like a series of Hindu Torans, arranged in a radial pattern, almost as if welcoming war heroes.

Probably it served more like a military structure, given its strategic location which allowed military personnel to keep a watch at the entire terrain below. There are openings in the adjacent fort wall probably to keep cannons and from where one could easily view a wide area of ground down below.

In all probabilities it was not supposed to be a standalone structure. Did it support a fort wall or an overhead superstructure?

One can see a partially buried gateway nearby, unexcavated. This could have been part of a fort wall, an opening to an internal route or some sort of a shelter. Historians should know.

Now for the architects, this picture is amazing:

Arches are seen everywhere in Champaner-Pavagadh structures. However, this is the only structure where I could actually see the details of at least one technique adopted by architects at that point in time, to lock or support stone arches.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Cenotaph

As observed & appreciated earlier, the minarete base has beautiful carvings of flower & foliage motif and geometric designs on the exterior.

The Cenotaph is square on plan and has a huge, fluted dome in the center with four smaller domes at corners, a small parapet can be seen on its roof with Chhajja protruding from all four sides.

Ruins of some old brick structure are seen scattered around the complex.

The Kevda complex also has a well and a hauz or tank for ablutions.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Kevda & its Missing Dome

The main entrance is through a huge arched doorway flanked on either side by five storey minarets, this entrance leads us to the main double storeyed prayer hall.

One design element that I mentioned in my earlier posts, the Flower, Foliage motif and Kalash (pot) design which probably was indicative of the confluence of Islamic architecture and Hindu craftsmanship, is present here too.

Out of three main domes of prayer hall, apparently one collapsed in the past, hence only two main domes and six small domes on the first floor and four small domes on the second floor remain. A Chhajja can be seen protruding in the front from roofs of first & second floor.

On either side of minarets one can see beautifully decorated Jharokha or oriel window, smaller arched doorway, another Jharokha window and a normal window. Each arched doorway leads us to a large dome from inside, and once inside, like in Jami Masjid, there is an array of decorated columns, beams and brackets forming the Liwan or the prayer hall.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Kevda Masjid & Cenotaph

This is a 3 mihrab mosque, apparently for common people. This Masjid was built during Mehmud Begda’s rule and is a variation – smaller model – of the Jami Masjid, it was constructed in the same style & architecture with beam, column & dome system.

However, as can be seen in the photograph, it has a Cenotaph or Mausoleum on its front side, the presence of which was not observed with Jami Masjid.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Gebanshah's Vav

Rulers of Champaner-Pavagadh were managing water & its resources quite well. Only one small river called Vishwamitri flows down the hill, which probably did not provide sufficient water during dry, non-mansoon or drought prone periods; hence there existed refined systems for collection of seasonal rain-water and its utilization.

Several small and big Talao, Stepwells and Vavs, Kunds, village wells, tanks, channels and waterworks at Amir Manzil, all indicating careful resource management; and as we climb Pavagadh hill, reach its top and return to ground that we realizes how natural topography was utilized to build “water intelligence” for the city.

Water was life sustaining for the flora & fauna and it also served spiritual and religious purposes in temples, for pilgrimage & worship.

At the base of Pavagadh hill, one simple yet sophisticated water management structure is worth mentioning, called Gebanshah’s Vav or stepwell.

According to the classical texts, there are four type of stepwells, viz., Nanda, Bhadra, Jaya & Vijaya, as shown below:

This Nanda type of stepwell was built around 16th Century AD by a fakir called Gebanshah. Built as community assets, stepwells were fed by subsoil flow with soil acting as a natural filter.

Special sand stone was used for its construction and it is minimally ornamented. Ledges at each landing level are continued around the well shaft. The entrance probably had a pavilion.

I look forward to update this post when the well water recedes, because, I am told that first landing level is just the beginning, this well has several levels and is quite deep.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007


Main minarets are 33 meters in height that adorn each side of prayer hall entrance and four minarets at the corners are half their height (one on the front-right side is in broken condition).

Intricate carvings and geometric designs are seen on all sides of minarets’ base with flower, foliage motif and the pot design at prominent points. Helical steps inside minarets take you up to first & second floors.

Just an afterthought…. do the geometric patterns at the base of these and other similar minarets resemble that of the Qutub Minar?

Sunday, December 2, 2007


The Masjid’s first floor roof is flat, without any parapet and has 10 big & 9 small domes arranged as shown in my post titled Jami Masjid. Big domes are 7 meter in diameter, the second floor roof has the biggest dome (main dome of the prayer hall as seen from inside, shown in previous post) and 8 small domes.

All big domes have the Kalash (Hindu's pious Water Pot) carved out of stone crowning them, some being in broken condition.

This might, once again, be indicative of the confluence of Islamic architecture and Hindu craftsmanship in this landscape.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Prayer Hall

The main prayer hall is 22 meters high with pillars arranged in square format at the ground level and octagonal format at the first & second floors. Galleries on the upper floors are open and permit good amount of light from all directions.

Near the northern side of the Masjid there exists a huge ablution tank, Hauz-e-Vaju, octagonal in shape and has lateral & longitudinal steps that take you till its bottom.

When I visited the tank, it was full up to its brim, steps were not visible at all.

Sunday, November 18, 2007


West side wall has seven buttresses & sixteen windows with Jali on the outer side and mihrab in the inside. Jami Masjid or the city level mosque has seven mihrab, mosque for royal personnel has five, like the Saher ki Masjid and 3 mihrab mosque for comman people, like the Kevda Masjid. This appears to be sort of a hierarchy.

One design element that I noticed most prominently in almost all the structures was the Flower, Foliage motif and the Pot design which probably was indicative of the confluence of Islamic architecture and Hindu craftsmanship.

Can some one read the Arabic text that I noticed on top side of one of the Mehrab? Do let us know what it says.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Corridor & Windows

Beautiful corridor line North, East & South side of the courtyard. Arcaded corridor with 52 pillars in the interior & 62 latticed windows on the exterior give a very ornamented & spacious look to the structure.

Latticed windows are on all outer walls including the rear side & Oriel windows are seen on the main entrance and south wall.

Jharokha windows are supported by four sculptured brackets and even the stones inside bracket space are ornamented with floral designs.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Jami Masjid

First place people visit and write about in Champaner is the grand Jami Masjid. Built in the year 1508-09 by Mehmud Begda it stands truly large and magnificent till date and is considered the most prominent structure of Champaner.

1. East Pavilion 2. South Pavilion 3. Special Pavilion

4. Corner Minaret 5. Buttresses 6. Domes 7. Minarets

8. Dargah 9. Courtyard 10. Corridor 11. South Pavilion

The biggest building in Champaner, it encloses an area of 72 Meters by 60 Meters with a huge courtyard, arcaded corridors with 52 pillars, 62 windows with Jali work on the outer walls and 3 entrance pavilions in the center of its east, north and south walls. 33 meter high minarets adorn each side of the main entrance and prayer hall and four minarets at the corners are half its height (one on the front-right side is in broken condition).

East pavilion is the most imposing and beautiful. Constructed on a high plinth it is decorated with geometric designs and jali work.

There appears to be a second, special entrance pavilion on the north side opening into a section in main prayer hall & separated from it by means of stone Jali – some say it was for the rulers and some consider it to be reserved for ladies.

Lets see the Courtyard, Minarets, the Prayer hall, Domes, Ablution Tank, Jharokhas, Mehrabs, and a lot more ... in my next few posts !

Friday, November 2, 2007

Chor Kothari

Chor Kothari or the prison cell inside royal palace area surprised me. Why should one keep prisoners inside the royal area? Or was it meant for royal prisoners only? However, I tried to look inside this damp and bat stinking structure, it was too dark and ill smelling to even try.

Close to this structure on its south is Sahar Ki Masjid or the City Mosque and on the north some garden structure remains.