Thirty years ago, 9 days after UNESCO had announced the World Heritage Convention, Karan Grover, a third year architecture student, was taken to the buried city of Champaner-Pavagadh by his mentor Prof. R. N. Mehta. Mehta was an archeologist who had painstakingly documented the buried city in the 60’s which had since then been recovered with earth. In an emotional pact Mehta “gave away” the city to Grovers care and Grover in turn promised to make it a World Heritage Site.
A richly illustrated 1000 images, 30 minutes presentation traces the 22 year old campaign of the Heritage Trust, started by Grover towards this quest.
The initiatives are breathtaking in their dimension. Despite severe government setbacks; the Trust preserved. Rampant quarrying within 5 kilometers of the 6 square kilometer site were finally withdrawn when the Trust approached the Supreme Court of India. A ‘World Congress at the site, festivals, documentation of 115 buildings above the ground and the piecing together of all Mehta’s excavations to finally draw the build city in its entity occupied all the reserves, resources, and patience of the Trust.
In the year 2000, Champaner came onto the prestigious World Monuments Watch List of Endangered Sites. In 2003 it won the United States Ambassadors Fund for Culture grant and finally in 2004 became India’s 26th World Heritage Site for UNESCO. This is also the first time in the history of UNESCO that a World Heritage Site has been spearhead by a non-government organization.
The Trust has chalked on ambitious plan for Champaner for 2010 to showcase the site as the world’s best practice for sustainable development.