Champaner, the fictitious village that served as the primary setting for Lagaan, was created in Bhuj, Kutch (in the state of Gujarat). I am rather privileged to have an obvious connection to Kutch, for my ancestry lies there. How's that for yet another reason to love the film?! :)
Champaner is a lively village. Complete with some interesting homes and hard-working people...
...and a temple atop a hill...
But the people of Champaner are struggling to make ends meet. Their lands are barren, for it has not rained in the longest. For a community that survives on its agricultural output, this is devastating.
Maai struggles to feed her prized possessions (will she have to sell them?):
What makes matters worse is that the British Empire takes away a significant portion of whatever little they earn. This is done in the form of lagaan, i.e. tax:
The village was created from scratch, especially for the film, and torched upon the its completion. If it looks like a real village, it is because it was created by villagers, with most homes and articles of clothing being handmade.
This picture is from the book The Spirit of Lagaan -- a few months after shooting for the film was completed, the building in which the cast lived for months during the shoot looked like this, following a massive earthquake in 2001. Several people died in the building too. In all, the earthquake claimed over 20,000 lives: