After having done the darshan at the kalimata temple and seen all the early sites on the Mauliya plateau, I grabbed some lunch (with Anand for company) and requested Anand to head for the sites of Champaner. It is the capital city established by Mahmud Bagda in 1484, and had a brief period of great glory, lasting less than a century. The area fell into neglect and disappeared into the jungle till the monuments were retrieved by the British in the second half of the 19th century. It is now one of the 27 UNESCO world heritage sites in India.
I headed for the Jami Masjid, the largest of the several mosques in the location. It is a fine specimen of the Third period of the Indo-Islamic style mosques built in Gujarat – large, airy, well proportioned and elegant, with decorative arches and tall, graceful minarets flanking the central opening. The mosque is raised on a high plinth and built in the trabeate (column and beam) style. The prayer hall has 172 pillars, which supports the 11 domes in rows. It has seven mihrabs or prayer niches. A screened Muluk Khana (reserved for royal ladies) at the northern end has a separate entrance and was an interesting feature as this element is not seen after the 10th century or so in North Indian masjids. In the outer garden there is a hexagonal water body with steps.
There are over 20 monuments that have been restored – or so my book said! But there is no map at the entrance to the complex, no signage, no inscriptions with description – I was disappointed with the efforts to make this, a listed orld Heritage site, the show piece it should be. Mr Anand assured me that there was nothing else to see – and had no clue about where all the other masjids were! In any case as it was already late into the afternoon, I decided to head back to Anand, promising myself that I would return some day – for it needs more than a day to wander around all that is promised.