Pavagadh is a Hill Station, and a Municipality in Panchmahal district about 46 kilometres (29 mi) away from Vadodara in Gujarat state in western India. It is known for a famous Mahakali temple which draws thousands of pilgrims everyday.
Area of this locality Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park has been inscripted by UNESCO as World Heritage in 2004.
It is said that the Rajput king Vanraj Chavda established Champaner at the foot of Pavagadh in fond memory of his wise minister Champa. Later, the Patai Raval family ruled it and took care of the boundary. The folk tales say that Mahakali assumed the form of a woman and danced in a Garba during Navaratri. The last Patai, Jaisinh watched her with dirty looks. The deity became angry at Jaisinh and cursed him. As a result, the Muslim emperor of Gujarat, Mahmud Begada assaulted Pavagadh and won the hill on the boundary.
Patai was defeated and killed. Mahmud Begada shifted his capital from Ahmedabad to Champaner for some time for reasons of diplomacy. He developed the town by constructing buildings such as the fort of Champaner, Uohra mosque, Mandavi, Kirtistambh, the temple of Shalkh, Jama Masjid, Nagina Mosque and Kevda Mosque. The remains of the Palace of Begada are still found near Vad Talav (Banyan Pond) two kilometers (1.25 miles) away from Champaner.
Legends have it that, the right toe of Goddess Sati, fell here. The holy complex is divided into two parts, on the ground floor the idol of Goddess Kali is seen and the top part houses a Mazar of a Peer, sacred to Muslims.
Kali, or Mahakali, the Dark Mother, is a deity with whom devotees have a very loving and intimate bond, in spite of her fearful appearance. She is a fearful and ferocious form of the mother goddess Durga. She is believed to have born from the brow of Goddess Durga during one of her battles with the evil forces.
In the Goddess Kalika temples, Kali has four arms, and carries a sword in one hand and the head of a demon in another. Her other two hands are raised in blessing, as if to say, 'fear not'. In the place of earrings, she has two dead heads. She also has a string of skulls as necklace, and a girdle made of human hands as her clothing. Her tongue protrudes from her mouth, eyes are red, and face and breasts are drenched in blood. She stands with one foot on the thigh, and another on the chest of Shiva, her husband.
This pre-historic goddess is widely worshiped in India, especially inWest Bengal. Navratri, or Dussehra, in West Bengal is related to Kali-worship. Saints like Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa and Swami Vivekananda were renowned Kali devotees. Champaner,where this temple is located, has a rich, rare and little known history. It goes back to early Stone Age on the basis of pre-historic stone tools recovered from the area. The rocks have the appearance of light yellow with tinge of red like Champaka flower or flame of the fire. Thus the name Champaner has been given to the town and Pavagadh to the hill fort. This town was set up in the 8th century A.D. by the Chauda dynasty, remained the political capital of Gujarat till 1536. The area is dotted with structures of archeological importance.Champaner/Pavagadh can boast of being the only world heritage site in Gujarat. The entire area is declared as protected area by the Archaeological Survey of India.
Pavagadh is the gateway to Panchmahal. It is a tribal area populated predominantly by the Bhils. The government has granted many concessions and offered subsidies to the new industries coming up in this area. As a result of it, Halol and Kalol towns near Pavagadh have turned into virtual industrial estates. The locations of hilly areas around Halol provide good scenery. A film studio at Halol has this added advantage. On the eastern side, the Rangpur Ashram run by Mr. Hari Parikh works towards the upliftment of the local tribals.
The great music maestro of 16th century, and Tansen's contemporary rival, Baiju Bawra belonged to Champaner.
Maa Mahakalika temple, Pavagadh is one of the biggest tourist and pilgrimage centers in the dynamic state of Gujarat, which attracts millions of tourists and pilgrims every year and tops the list of educational institutions' excursion programs.
From the city of Vadodara, at a distance of 55 Kms. the old town of Pavagadh is located. The entire area is mainly forest land and very picturesque.
Places of interest
Pavagadh has total height of 822 meters and you can find many scenic trails to climb including waterfalls during monsoon time.
The plateau at an altitude of 490 meters is known as Machi Haveli. The remains of the Raval Palace still exist at Machi. There are rest houses, holiday homes and small hotels at Machi. The bus service has been extended up to Machi.
Then comes Teliya Talav and Dudhia Talav.
The temple of Kali is at the height of 550 metres (1,523 feet). Nowadays the rope-way facility has been made available to the tourists to reach the temple. About 250 steps have to be climbed from there.
A little above the Kali Temple there is Sadanshah Pir Dargah. There are numerous tales, songs and dramas knitting the story of Patai Raval.
Ropeway at Pavagadh
Maa Mahakalika Temple, a famous Hindu and Muslim pilgrim centre, is located at Pavagadh in Panchmahals District. Situated amid dense forest cover on a cliff, the temple is believed to be one of the 51 Shakti Peeths.Goddess Mahakalika has been fulfilling wishes of millions of devotees for thousands of years. Maa Mahakalika Udan Khotala ( A Passenger Ropeway ) is operating since 1986 and takes you quickly and comfortably from Manchi to the hill top near the Maha Kalika Temple in about 6 minutes, whereas, the steep climb on foot takes over one hour.