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Govt plans a facelift to Sultanate-era monuments

Invites bids to conduct 3D video mapping of Champaner,Sarkhej Roza and Somnath

Written by Avinash Nair | Ahmedabad |
September 7, 2013 3:55:52 am

The Gujarat government has finally taken cognisance of the Muhammadan architecture in the state. It plans to give a facelift to the ancient town of Champaner in Pavagadh and Sarkhej Roza in Ahmedabad under the “Khushboo Gujarat Ki” project to promote tourism. Both monuments are from the Gujarat Sultanate era. The Champaner fort was built by Sultan Mahmud Begada and Sarkhej Roza is where Begada lies buried.

The Tourism Corporation of Gujarat Limited (TCGL) has invited online bids to conduct a three-dimensional video mapping of Champaner and Roza along with the Somnath temple,which is one of the twelve jyotirlinga shrines of Lord Shiva. The bid document has described Roza as an example of “Gujarati architectural style”.

The inclusion is interesting because so far there had been no move to recognise these monuments and,in fact,the BJP had in the mid-nineties moved a proposal to rename Ahmedabad ‘Karnavati’,to distance itself from its Islamic legacy. Today,the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) has included Sarkhej Roza among the 10 monuments in the city to be developed as tourist hotspots.

The firms in the TCGL bid have been invited for the 3-D video mapping as well as to design,install and operate a Light and Sound shows at these three places to bring alive the legends behind these monuments. These projects,worth Rs 14 crore,have been sanctioned by the Gujarat government under “Khushboo Gujarat Ki” campaign to be completed within six months.

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A “preamble” accompanying the TCGL bid document goes on to describe both Sarkhej Roza and Champaner – the protected monuments from Sultanate era – as one of the “finest architectural edifices in Gujarat”.

Sarkhej Roza,situated in Ahmedabad,is a mausoleum and mosque built at the the advent of Sultanate era in honour of Sufi saint Shaikh Ahmed Khattu Ganj Baksh,who was a friend and adviser to Sultan Ahmed Shah,the founder of Ahmedabad city. Built in the middle of 15th century,it is an example of early Islamic architectural culture of the region that fused Persian Islamic influences with indigenous Hindu and Jain features to form a composite “Indo-Saracenic” architectural style. It has tombs of Sultan Mahmud Begada,his son Muzzaffar II and his queen Rajabai. The TCGL bid document describes it as a structure depicting the “Gujarati architectural style”.

The second monument to be mapped will be Champaner – once the ancient capital of Gujarat and now a UNESCO-designated World Heritiage site —- located about 50 kilometers from Vadodara. The bid document describes Mahmud Begada as the “young Sultan of Gujarat” in 1484 AD who attacked and captured the town and besieged Pavagadh,the well-known hill fortress above Champaner where local king Jayasimha had taken refuge. Then,he spent 23 years rebuilding and embellishing Champaner,which he renamed as Muhammadabad. Begada also built a magnificent Jama Masjid in Champaner.

Somnath temple,which is also part of the bids,has a history of desecration by Muslim invaders from 11th to 18th century AD. “The modern temple was reconstructed with the resolve of Sardar Patel who visited the ruins of Somnath temple on November 13,1947. Dr Rajendra Prasad,the then President of India,did the Pran-Pratistha at the existing temple on May 11,1951,” the TCGL document states.

Prior approval needs to be taken from the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and local trusts for the installation of the hardware for Light and Sound shows. “We have not received any proposal from the TCGL regarding the installation of Sound and Light shows. Both these monuments from the Sultanate era are ASI-protected,” said Shivanand Rao,Gujarat Circle head of the ASI. These shows are scheduled to be held between 7-9 pm with the prior permission from the TCGL,ASI and local trust. The shows will also be reviewed by the TCGL and ASI officials before it is commissioned.

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