Revitalization of heritage tourism for world heritage site – Champaner Pavagadh Archaeological Park, Panchmahal, Gujarat – issues and management

 

“It is to my judgement, equally our duty to dig and discover, to classify, reproduce and describe, to copy and decipher, to cherish and conserve.”- Lord Curzon. Address in February 1900

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Introduction

Many great cities of rich antiquity around the world were the center for great civilizations for centuries; only to be lost to the ages and then rediscovered centuries or millennia later, reduced to rubble and ruins. There are many such places of historic importance; well- known to all is the excavations of the Indus Valley Civilization. A few cities have gone a step forward and continued to grow and change, leading to a mix of thousand- year- old forts and temples, medieval streets and markets, government building put up by the Colonial powers and modern high rises, offices and strip malls cluttering in-between. Delhi, Hyderabad, Madurai and Tanjore are a few examples that one could relate to.

These great civilizations and cities form the Cultural and Living Heritage of our country. It is a pride factor that India has 29 such sites listed as the UNESCO World Heritage Site. The state of Gujarat is no exception in this regard. She is a land rich in culture, tradition and architectural heritage and has to her pride, ONE of the twenty- nine World Heritage Sites- the Champaner- Pavagadh Archaeological Park in the Panchmahal district. Champaner, along with the people and the built heritage, together forms the components of a complex process that has developed over a period of time leading to “LAYERS OF HERITAGE” superimposed one over the other.

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The fort of the city of Champaner built by Mahmud Begada, giving a very deserted introduction to the city
S. No. Period of Architecture Contributions
1. Pre- history (200,000-3000 years BC) Tools belonging to Mesolithic and Upper Paleolithic period
2. Solanki Period (942-1244 AD) Hindu Fortress and Temples-  Nagara Style
3. Kichi Chauhans (956-1191 AD) Hindu Fortress and Temples- Nagara Style
4. Sultan Mahmud Begada(1459-1510 AD) Indo- Muslim Architecture
5. Mughals (1535 AD) Found the deserted city of Champaner
6. British (1802 AD) Held the fortress for a short period
7. British (1861 AD) Ceded to the British Empire

The LAYERS OF HERITAGE comprising the heritage of Champaner

It is only logical to understand that “Cultural Heritage Tourism” is a prevailing industry in any World Heritage Site and thus calling for utmost attention to the development of facilities and infrastructure subsequently. This article aims at giving a glimpse of the problems or issues that are hindering the promotion and development of tourism in this UNESCO site and the possibilities of improvement.

World heritage site is a place listed by the UNESCO as of special cultural or physical significance. The List is maintained by the International World Heritage Programme administered by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee. These sites, under certain conditions, can obtain funds from the World Heritage Fund. This fund can be used for Promotion of Heritage tourism, Conservation of monuments and improving the infrastructure of the site to facilitate Positive Cultural Heritage Tourism.

What is Cultural Heritage Tourism?

“Travelling to experience the places and activities that authentically represent the stories and people of the past and present”is known as Cultural Heritage Tourism. Cultural Heritage can be anything ranging from an ancient village known for its historic arts, crafts and traditions to a group of monuments representing architectural character of the period. Champaner- Pavagadh is a combination of both these aspects and thus is referred to as a “Living Heritage”.

 Champaner- Pavagadh- A World Heritage Site (Values and Attributes)?

This particular site was inscribed in the World Heritage List in the seventh month of 2004. Stone tools recovered from this region, indicates the antiquity dating back to the Mesolithic and Paleolithic periods of the Stone Age. The earliest monument of Champaner is the Lakulisha Temple located on the Mauliya Plateau, built between the 10th and 11th century A.D. A site of such great history, once abandoned and later rediscovered with only ruins hidden in wilderness, is a magnificent example of a Pre- Mughal Township.

The criteria under which Champaner- Pavagadh was selected as the World Heritage Site are as below

  • Criterion- iii: The Champaner- Pavagadh Archaeological Park with its ancient architecture, temples and special water retaining installations together with its religious, military and agricultural structures, dating back to the regional Capital City built by Mahmud Begada in the 16th century, represents cultures which have disappeared.
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The double height roof of a monument (Masjid) with the base of the dome and the dome missing as a result of vandalism and negligence
  •  Criterion- iv: The structures represent a perfect blend of Hindu Muslim architecture, mainly in the Great Mosque (Jami Masjid), which was a model for later mosque architecture in India. This special style comes from the significant period of regional structures.
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The Sahar ki Masjid, one of the many Masjids found at Champaner showcasing the Medieval Hindu- Muslim Architecture
  •  Criterion- v: The Champaner- Pavagadh Archaeological Park is an outstanding example of a very short living Capital, making the best use of its setting, topography and natural features. It is quiet vulnerable due to the abandonment, forest take-over and modern life.
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Sath Manzil, Champaner- Pavagadh Archaeological Park
  • Criterion- vi: It is a place of worship and continuous pilgrimage for Hindu believers.

Now, that we know Champaner- Pavagadh as an ensemble of prehistoric, early and later medieval period royal, sophisticated and ordinary settlements and building complexes, it is of great importance to offer world class Heritage Tourism, like in many other World Heritage sites around the world. The Historic Centre of Rome (Italy) and the Memphis and Necropolis with the Pyramid of Giza (Egypt) are very good examples for positive cultural heritage tourism.

Being the sole UNESCO World Heritage Site of Gujarat, it becomes a great responsibility to promote heritage preservation, tourism and subsequently the facilities, so as to facilitate tourists from around the globe. The Gujarat Infrastructure Board Corporation, along with the State Government is keen at protecting and maintaining the site and also improving infrastructure facilities. Proposals for development of tourist amenities, sound & light shows, heritage walks, interpretation centre, museum, infrastructure facilities like roadways and transportation, etc., have been initiated to facilitate world class tourism experience.

Key issues identified at the UNESCO site- Champaner Pavagadh Archaeological Park

With all the facts in hand, identifying the issues in the area is the next step towards a positive and sustainable development.

  • The secluded location from the main cities offers less- frequent transportation in addition to the very restricted transportation to the interior of the city- mostly by local jeeps.
  • The bus stand is over crowded with shops built of semi- permanent structures making the place a very bad introduction to the city.
  • Availability of lodging and restaurant facilities is insufficient.
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The ruins of many architectural elements at the Lila Gumbaz complex
  • A museum to house the archaeological findings is a necessary entity, as all the artefacts found so far have been housed in museums in Vadodara.
  • Basic amenities like rest- rooms and rest areas close to the monuments are insufficient or rather unavailable.
  • The roads leading to the monuments are lined with thick plantation of xeriscapes, making the path leading to the monument very difficult to commute.
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The deserted and badly maintained roads leading to the Monuments
  • The over- crowded path leading to the top of the Pavagadh hill is frequented by the devotees going to the Kalika Mata Mandir. Here again, the lack of infrastructure and the pollution of the natural resources proves to be a disadvantage.
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The Path leading to the Kalika Mata Mandir lined with shops selling various things ranging from auspicious commodities to gift articles
  • Availability of lodging facilities is very minimal and the ones already there do not accommodate world class tourism.
  • There are various architectural elements broken off from the building due to vandalism and external factors, which have been collected and placed in the monument grounds open to more destruction. These elements are great examples of unmatched stone carvings and vernacular architecture, which needs to be preserved and taken forward generation after generation.
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The ruins of many architectural elements

 Scope of improvement/ solutions to a positive sustainable tourism

The buildings that were listed by the Archaeological Survey of India were 114 in number out of which only 39 come under the protected monuments. It is very grieving to note that even these 39 are not well- protected i.e. all these monuments are just fenced and name- plated by the ASI. It is time that we realise that just fencing the monument and naming it does not fix the need. The question is whether everyone visiting the particular monument, know its historic and architectural significance. Not just this Archaeological site, but many such sites are left to seek its natural death.

It is important that this historic city gets its recognition for its World Heritage position. There are various management plans put up by the Government and the Archaeological Survey of India. But what good has it done to the city’s development and the development of tourism.

The key factors to be taken into account while planning for the improvement and development of the city are:

  • The Historicity and significance of the city along with condition assessment
  • The available natural resources
  • Available infrastructure
  • Activity and settlement pattern of the natives
  • Source of revenue for the local people
  • Environmental conservation and conservation of monuments
  • Local art, crafts and culture
  • Impact of modern development on the city
  • Creating Public awareness

It is always necessary to keep in mind the people living in the city as they are the ones’ responsible for any development in the city. Development of tourism can be made sustainable only by protecting the existing environment and natural resources and keeping the welfare of the people ahead of everything else.

Management of Heritage Conservation and Tourism

 Some of the management of heritage tourism can be achieved by:

  • Adaptive reuse: Adapting a monument partly or fully for various purposes. In this case a permanent exhibition which explains the significance of the building can be put up. A good example for this factor is the Humayun’s Tomb complex with the museum.
  • Adequate signage should be place where ever required explaining a short note about the monuments.
  • Public conveniences like drinking water facility, resting benches / gazebos, parking place, toilets, etc., that facilitates the people visiting the monuments.
  • Organising heritage trails concentrating on the different periods of building makes it easy for the tourists to visit all the monuments during the period of stay.
  • Employment generation from the natives is a step towards sustainable development. This not only encourages people to work for the well- being of their city but also helps a positive economic development.
  • Strict norms and regulations have to be formed to prevent vandalism in the monuments. Appointing of people for security checks can also be encouraged.
  • Improvement of infrastructure like roads, electricity and water facilities. The roads leading to each of these monuments needs to be checked and improved.
  • Cycle tracks can also be a part of the infrastructure development with cycle stands at all the monuments enabling an orderly use of cycles. Heritage trails can also include cycle tours around the city and Pavagadh hill.
  • A research and training centre can be put up by the Archaeological Survey of India to initiate education on the importance of heritage. The research space can be used by archaeologists.
  • A city’s own museum to house all the artefacts retrieved by the archaeologists can also be introduced.
  • Revitalization of the whole of the Pavagadh hill with proper monitoring of the Path leading to the Kalika Mata Mandir improves not only the livelihood atop but also the condition of the monuments and the water bodies.
  • Organising school trips can also be a way of promoting the site and prove as a learning experience.
  • Establishing Public awareness campaigns is a very sensible approach to a positive tourism so that the importance of a UNESCO World Heritage Site is felt by the people of the country. This leads to a sense of responsibility to protect such wealth, from within.

Above all these Public awareness and participation becomes a major criterion for achieving World- class heritage tourism at Champaner. A sustainable development can only be achieved by these two factors. Starting from small peer groups and NGOs the awareness campaign can educate the whole city and put it to work, instead of out- sourcing labour.

Conclusion

To provide and promote Heritage tourism in order to enhance the historicity of this great architectural wonder is a herculean task. But it is also important to note that, if not in the near future, due to various developments and negligence, the city’s architectural heritage would be lost to posterity without any record. Due to just lack of public awareness and ignorance about law the vast wealth of Indian Heritage has been lost to varied external factors.International Tourism development at this UNESCO site, showcasing its culture and architectural heritage, can help in generation of revenue that can facilitate in maintenance of the monuments to keep them intact. It is time that Champaner- Pavagadh got its position in the international travel list and we as Indians should work towards protecting and preserving the cultural and architectural heritage, not only at Champaner but throughout the country for the well-being of the posterity.

References

  1. World Heritage series- Champaner Pavagadh, by Dr. Shivananda V. and Atul Bhargava, published by The Director General- Archaeological survey of India
  2. The Royal Rajputs, by Manoshi Bhattacharya
  3. Conservation Manual by Sir John Marshall
  4. To Cherish and Conserve, by John Kean, published by the Archaeological Survey of India
  5. Islamic Architecture, by Percy Brown
  6. Islamic Architecture, by Sathish Grover
  7. Champaner- Pavagadh Archaeological Park, World Heritage Site Management Plan – 2012- 2018
  8. Indo- Islamic Architecture by Ziyauddin Desai
  9. Impressions of the Forgotten city- An architectural Documentation of Champaner- Pavagadh, by Sumesh Modi
  10. Panch Yatras in the Cultural Heritage Landscape of Champaner- Pavagadh, Gujarat, India, by the University of Illinois, USA and Heritage Trust, Baroda
  11. The Archaeological Survey of western India, The Muhammadan Architecture of Gujarat, by J. Burgess
  12. Town Planning in Champaner, by Prof. Dr. R.N. Mehta
  13. Draft Action Plan for Integrated Conservation at Champaner- Pavagadh, prepared by Mrs. Nalini Takur
  14. Champaner- Pavagadh Archaeological Park Act, by the Heritage Trust, Baroda under World Heritage scanned Nomination
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