Moving on from Aurangabad, I took a 6am train (suddenly a dubious hotel right by the station seemed an even better idea) back to Mumbai and then another north to the city of Vadodara, formerly Baroda. The archeological park, which I had nearly deleted from my itinerary after reading mixed reviews, is a day trip away by bus.
It is rather hard to describe this world heritage site, partly because it is huge and covers a bewildering range of remains and partly because I only visited a bit of it as a result of getting a tad lost at one point.
Areas I didn’t find until too late in the day are spread over the side of Pavagadh hill with a popular pilgrimage temple on the top, accessible via a cable car. There are a lot of unexcavated archaeological pre-historic remains alongside more recent vestiges of structures from the eighth to sixteenth centuries including Hindu temples and water systems.
What I saw were a group of mosques dotted amongst the fields at the bottom of the hill, within and around the ancient walled city. This walled area was originally the royal enclosure of a sixteenth century capital of Gujarat and now contains the modern village of Champaner.
The mosques are attractive, with tall thin minarets, decorative carving and pierced stone windows. The style is apparently a blend of Hindu and Islamic elements. They also seem virtually unvisited; I doubt many tourists make it to the one at the end of a long path through the woods. I wasn’t even sure I was going the right way, I just kept going because it was a lovely day and I was having a delightfully peaceful walk, peace and quiet being hard to come by in India.
I still can’t tell if I saw the best bit of this world heritage site whilst avoiding some dull piles of masonry, or whether I missed something wonderful. I do rather wish I’d had the time for the cable car though, maybe another time.
I’ve built the centre portion of this mosque for the Lego model:
The centre dome is gold because I only have two of the tan ones with me.