Have you heard about Panchmahal? Where is it? What is there? Is it a group of five Palaces or something else? You must be thinking, so many questions ! Is this a way to start any article?
But these questions are not for you.These are the questions that crossed my mind when I received the invite for the Panchmahal FAM Trip organized by India tourism Mumbai. This beautiful district in Gujarat was unknown to me. Visiting Panchmahal was like exploring a hidden treasure. This trip, not only introduced me to a new destination but also enriched my knowledge with numerous stories, mythologies, folklore, historical facts and much more.
And now, let me share my newly acquired knowledge and experience with you.
What is Panchmahal district, Gujarat famous for?
If you are wondering why you should explore Panchmahal. Let me tell you, this place has ample avenues to amaze you, whether you’re a history buff, a nature lover, an adventurer, a religious person, or someone interested in art, culture, and architecture. The UNESCO World Heritage site at Champaner and the Mahakali temple at Pavagadh are the most famous destinations among many others.
History of Panchmahal
Panchmahal, translates to “five palaces,” referring to the five talukas—Godhra, Dahod, Halol, Kalol, and Jhalod—that Maharaja Sindhiya of Gwalior handed over to the British. As a result, this district is known as Panchmahal.
Panchmahal has a rich history that dates back to the 7th century, when Champaner was established by King Vanraj Chavda of the Chavda dynasty. In the 13th Century, the city was taken over by Delhi Sultanate under Alauddin Khalji. Later in 1484, Sultan Mahmud Begada of Gujarat captured the city.
Today Panchmahal is known for Champaner Pavagadh archaeological park, a UNESCO world heritage site which is popular amongst tourists from all over the globe.
Complete Travel Guide to Panchmahal
Here is a complete Panchmahal travel guide to help you smoothly plan your trip.
Where is Panchmahal?
Panchmahal district is situated in the easternmost region of Gujarat, India. Important Towns in the Panchmahal district include Godhra, Jambughoda, Kalol, Halol, Ghogamba, and Pavagadh.
How to reach Panchmahal?
By Road: Regular buses to Panchmahal are readily available from other significant cities of India.
By Train: Towns of Panchmahal are well connected to other cities in India by railways. The major railway stations include Godhra, Anand, and Vadodara.
By Air: The closest airport is Vadodara Airport, about 80 kilometers away. One can find more frequent flight options from Ahmedabad, about 125 Kilometres away.
Where to Stay in Panchmahal?
One can opt to stay at Godhra or Jambughoda while visiting Panchmahal. It’s because these two locations are well-known and offer the ideal setting for a vacation. During our visit, we stayed at Jambughoda.
During the Mughal and Maratha eras of control, Godhra was the capital city of the Panchmahal district. It is now a thriving town with several industrial facilities and marketplaces.
The city offers numerous lodgings facilities, resorts, and hotels from which you can choose the one that suits your budget and preferences. Some of the prominent resorts include
1. Vikrama Heritage Resort & Spa
2. Greenland Resort
3. The Mango Orchard Resort
Jambughoda is a beautiful village located 80 kilometers to the east of Vadodara. It features some of the top tourist attractions and excellent lodging choices. The two most well-known stays here include.
1. Jambughoda Palace– One of the Jambughoda homestays that comes highly recommended is A Home For Nature Lovers,Jambughoda Palace. A portion of the palace is converted into a homestay surrounded by greenery and heritage vibes.
2. Bhanu The Fern Forest Resort & Spa – A five-star resort with 108 rooms and luxurious amenities, the Fern Forest Resort & Spa offers idyllic settings for relaxing holidays.
3. Banyan hills Resort: Luxury cottages with an option of floating breakfast in a private pool, this resort offers a luxurious experience.
Best time to visit Panchmahal
Like any other destination in Gujarat, Winter is the best time to visit Panchmahal. September to February is an ideal time when the weather is pleasant.
Top Attractions in Panchmahal
Panchmahal district is a lesser known destination, but the area is brimming with hidden attractions and activities.
Let’s explore some of the best places to visit in Panchmahal, Gujarat.
1. Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological park
Champaner is a historically significant site in Gujarat. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage site, Champaner is situated 47 kilometers from Vadodara. With over 114 heritage monuments listed under the Baroda Heritage Trust, Champaner is a paradise for history and architecture lovers. A visit to Champaner feels like walking on the pages of History. Here one can witness some awe-inspiring architectural treasures including mosques, temples, step-wells tombs, etc.
Although out of 114 monuments only 39 are maintained by Archaeological Survey, It is almost impossible to visit all of them, due to their inaccessibility. However, some of the most prominent and easily accessible monuments in Champaner include:
• Jami Masjid
• Kevada Masjid
• Shehar ki Masjid
• Helical Step Well
• Pavagadh Fort
• Pavagadh Hill
• Nagina Masjid
• Lila Gumbaj Ki Masjid
• Kabutarkhana Pavilion
2. Shree Mahakali Mataji Temple, Pavagadh
One of the most sacred and popular pilgrimages in Gujarat, Shree Mahakali Mataji temple is one of the 52 Shaktipeeths, where the toe of Mata Sati was supposed to have fallen. Constructed between the 10th and 11th centuries, the Shree Mahakali temple complex is the oldest temple in the area and is a part of the Champaner Pavagadh archaeological park. Situated on the Summit of the Pavagadh hills, you can reach the temple by climbing 1800 Steps or by taking a cable car, to save 1500 steps. The too & fro ride in a cable car costs INR 150 per person. Tickets can bebooked online too from https://udankhatola.com/destination/kali-devi.
The Ropeway journey offers a breathtaking view of the surrounding hills. If you fear heights, you might find them a bit scary.
The temple timings are from 6 am to 7.30 pm
3. Saat Kaman, Pavagadh
Another architectural marvel situated on the edge of Pavagadh hills, Saat Kaman means 7 arches. However currently only 6 stone arches are present and preserved and the 7th one is being destroyed.
4. Jhand Hanuman Temple, Jambughoda
An ancient temple dedicated to Lord Hanuman where one can find the 18ft tall idol of Lord Hanuman naturally carved on the gigantic mountain rock. Shri Jhand Hanuman temple is situated 6 kilometers deep inside the Jambughoda Forest in Jhand Village, around 75 kilometers from Vadodara City. This ancient temple is associated with the Mahabharata times and is believed to be built by the Pandavas. Apart from the temple, its surroundings has many mystries .
Bhim ki Chakki or Bhim ni Ghanti is the most prominent among them. This gigantic stone chakki ( or flour grinder) is believed to be used by the Pandava Prince Bhim while he was staying there. During the little hike through the forest to reach Bhim ki Chakki, we came across a carved stone on a stone platform known as “Hero Stone” built by the tribals as a mark of respect for the war heroes. There were few natural caves also in this area. While hiking, we also came across numerous rock cairns (rocks stacked on top of each other) made by the devotees for good luck.
5. Jambughoda Wildlife Sanctuary
The perfect retreat for nature lovers, Jambughoda wildlife sanctuary is surrounded by hills covered by thick forest. Bamboo, Teak, and Mahua are the prominent trees in this area. The Jambughoda Wildlife Sanctuary is around 20 kilometers from Champaner and 70 km from Vadodara. This Area was a part of Gujarat’s Jambughoda princely State before independence. The geology of the area is undulating, and the hillocks surrounding the kada water reservoir look heavenly, especially during sunrise.
The wildlife sanctuary is home to numerous animals including wild boars, nilgais (blue bull), jackals, hyenas, barking deer, sloth bears, four-horned antelopes, leopards, and various species of birds.
During our visit, we went for an early morning walking trail into the sanctuary. Walking past the water reservoir and thick bamboo forest, we came across herds of Nilgais and deers.
If you wish to experience the wildlife from close, you can also stay at Dhanpari Eco tourism cottages situated inside the wildlife sanctuary.
6. Pithora painting in a Tribal village
Pithora paintings are unique and sacred ritualistic wall paintings made by local tribes of Rathwa, Bhils, and Bhilala on the walls of their homes. The practice of this art has been passed from generation to generation as a sacred ritual. Pithora paintings are wall décor made from natural colors. These paintings are distinguished by seven horses representing seven hills that round Rathwa’s home region.
If you appreciate ancient art and culture, witnessing a wall painted with Pithora paintings is something that you should not miss. However, these sacred paintings are not available for commercial purposes and can be witnessed only at the local tribal’s houses. The best way is to hire a local guide who can take you to a nearby village.
7. Tuva Timba Hot Water Spring
Tuva Timba hot spring is another unique attraction in Panchmahal. This hot spring is believed to have a magical healing power to cure many skin diseases, arthritis, rheumatism, etc. The Tuva timba hot springs are associated with Lord Ram and the Pandavas.
According to the legends, the Tuva Timba Hot spring was generated by Lord Rama by hitting his arrow on the ground to treat a sage who was suffering from a rare skin disease.
The unique thing about this place is that it has over 80 hot water kunds, each with a different temperature ranging from lukewarm to very hot.
The Locals often frequent the spring for bathing.
Near the spring is an ancient temple, where the Pandava prince Bhim married Demoness Hidimbi. At the temple one can find Bhim’s footprints along with ancient Shivalings
Panchmahal – The hidden gem of Gujarat
Visiting offbeat and lesser-known places has always thrilled me. Exploring the hidden gems of Panchmahal was an enriching experience. Spending three days in Panchmahal, surrounded by dense teak wood forest dotted with small villages and historical monuments, was one of a kind experience. The absence of malls, big shops, or even stores selling tribal products shows how offbeat and commercially untouched this location is. This visit also made me realize how incredible India truely is. I would like to thank India tourism Mumbai and the collector of Godhra for introducing me to an incredible part of Gujarat.
If you want to spend quality time amidst nature away from the hustle and bustle of the city, Do plan a visit to Panchmahal.
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