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|Known for its medieval monuments, including the world famous Gol Gumbaz, Bijapur is located in the southern state of Karnataka. Known for their architectural excellence, most of the monuments of Bijapur are built by the Adil Shahi rulers between 15th and 17th century. The Adil Shahi Dynasty was contemporary of the great Mughals in Delhi, Elizabethan rule in England, and Shah Abbas in Persia. And like their contemporaries, the Adil Shahi rulers also ushered in the golden era for Bijapur. The buildings were built from the local basalt, which have a dull brown monochromatic effect, and are simply splendid. In a city still unspoilt by the soulless multi-storeyed blocks, the sun always sets behind a grand dome or an elegant minaret.
The old city of Bijapur is surrounded by fortified walls. Monuments of the city built during Adil Shahi Dynasty are its main attractions. The main attraction in the city is Gold Gumbaz or the Rounded Dome, located in the eastern end of the walled city. In Other attractions Ibrahim Roza is situated in the western outskirts of the city. Gagan Mahal, now mostly in ruins still has enough attraction to pull you there. Near the citadel you can have a good look on attractions such as Sat Manzil (Seven-storied palace), Bara Kaman (twelve arches), and Jala Manzil (water pavilion). Other important attractions in the city are Jama Masjid, Taj Bawdi (water tank), Upli Burj (watch tower), Mehtar Mahal (palace built by the sweepers), and Asar Mahal.
Bijapur is a part of North Karnataka, a region that is steeped in history of great rulers who not only fought with courage and expanded their empires but also excelled in the fields of art, culture, and music. The region was a centre of excellence in architecture and there are structures all around that give a glimpse of its grand past. Aihole and Badami saw some of the most beautiful structures being created during the Chalukyan Era. Gulbarga is the district headquarters known for its association with the Bahamani kingdom in medieval times. Asavana Bagevadi and Kundalasangama are two places associated with the great social reformer and poet Saint Basaveshwara in the early medieval age.
The most important attraction in Bijapur, Gol Gumbaz is an architectural wonder and the largest dome in the world. The dome dominates miles of area by its sheer size and it is difficult to suppress the urge to see the dome once you are there. With a height of 51 metres and diameter of 37 metres, the entire structure has been raised on a wall whose thickness is 3 metres. The cenotaph of Muhammad Adil Shah (1627-56) lies under the dome. Unsupported by any pillar, the dome is an engineering marvel. The acoustical system is fantastic and your slightest whisper would be echoed seven times. Apart from the dome, there are supporting structures including a mosque, a drum house and guesthouses.
Though Gol Gumbaz is a better-known structure, the most splendid structure in Bijapur is, however, the Ibrahim Roza and the accompanying mosque. The tomb of the illustrious Adil Shahi Sultan Ibrahim II (1580-1627), the structure has been lavishly praised by the art historians as well as the common tourists alike. Cousens called the Roza /”the Taj Mahal of the Deccan,/” while for Ferguson it was /”far excelling than anything of the sort on this side of the globe/”. The tomb is built to perfection and is an example of unstinting technical care and skilled artistry without any equals. The tomb has remarkable proportions, with elegant cupolas and slender minarets, parapets cornices adding the necessary decorative touches.
Built in 1686, during the rule of Adil Shah I, the Jami Masjid of Bijapur is a stately structure that is sober and massive. The huge dome of the Masjid is onion-shaped and rests on the beams of a grand hall divided into 45 compartments. The Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb made some additions to the original corridors on the northern and southern sides and put a gateway on the eastern side.
Gagan Mahal was built by Adil Shah I (1561) as a part of the palace-cum-audience hall. The central arch of Gagan Mahal is the widest and tallest in entire Bijapur. Most of the structure is now in ruins, but even the remnants are magnificent and impressive. The ruins of the Mahal are now part of a beautiful park.
Sat Manzil or the seven-storeyed tower near the Gagan Mahal is now mostly in ruins. Originally the structure was a watchtower overlooking the bastions, the moat girdling, and the ramparts of the citadel.
Close to the Sat Manzil is a small structure called Jal Manzil (water palace). It is set in a tank and a part of the zenana enclosure.
Close to the Roza lies Taj Bawdi, built by Ibrahim II in memory of his wife. Two octagonal towers flank the giant gateway leading to the water tank which is still in use, a great relief during summer months.
Mehtar Mahal is a small but exquisite structure that you just can/’t miss while going to the old city. Built in the Indo-Saracenic style, this is an extremely ornate structure with brackets supporting the balconies and trelliswork so impressive that it recalls the splendour of the Italian Quattrocento.
One unusual attraction in the city is the Malik-e-Maidan (monarch of the plains) canon, placed on the city walls and one of the largest surviving bell-metal canons in the world. The cannon weighs 5,500 kilograms and is 4.5 metres in length. Cool to touch even under scorching sun, it was mounted by Muhammad Adil Shah on its present position.
Asar Mahal was also built by Muhammad Adil Shah where he kept two hairs of Prophet Muhammad for devout Muslims. It is a five-arched façade—a grand building in Bijapur.
The 16th-century Bijaipur Castle entices tourists with its location right next to a wildlife sanctuary where leopards and wild boar, blue bulls and spotted deer roam free. Built by Rao Shakti Singh, the younger brother of Maharana Pratap Singh in the 16th century, the castle is being run as a heritage hotel by the Bijaipur royal family now. The castle provides excellent lodging facility with an option of jeep safari in the nearby villages and opportunity to enjoy the traditional Mewar hospitality. A must visit site of Bijaipur.
The villages near Bijaipur are also worth a visit. The provision of jeep safari from the Bijaipur castle makes them easily accessible. The villages are characterised by the surrounding of the green hills and the hospitable people. They are inhabited by tribal communities like Bhils, Gadia Lohar (Rajasthani blacksmiths), Kalbeliyas (snake charmers), and Banjara (gypsies). The people wear colourful costumes and live in houses made of clay, stones and wood.
PANGARH FORT AND LOTUS LAKE
Around 25 kilometres from Bijaipur is the picturesque 12th-century Pangarh Fort. The fort overlooks the beautiful Lotus Lake where the local tribal population harpoons fish in their traditional way.
Excursions for Bijapur
Along with Badami and Pattadakal, Aihole completes the third dimension of Chalukyan architectural centres. Situated some 129 km off Bijapur, the place had an important position during the rule of the Chalukyas. There are a number of richly carved Hindu temples constructed in the 6th and 7th centuries. Some of the important temples of Aihole are Lad Khan Temple, the Meguti Temple, and the Durga Temple. There is also a small museum run by the archaeological department that showcases objects found in Aihole, mostly of the Chalukyan era.
The birthplace of Saint Basaveshwara, Asavana Bagevadi is a famous pilgrimage situated at a distance of 43 km from Bijapur. The place is well known for its temples.
The capital of the ancient South Indian kingdom of the Chalukyas, Badami is situated in North Karnataka near a beautiful red sandstone ridge. The main attractions of Badami are its rock-cut temples, the Agastyatirtha Tank, Bhootnath Temple, Archaeological Museum, Jambulinga Temple, and Badami Fort.
Situated at a distance of around 150 km from Bijapur, Gulbarga is known for its association with the mighty Bahamani kingdom. The main attractions of Gulbarga are the Gulbarga fort, the Jama Masjid, tombs of Bahamani kings and the tomb of Hazrat Gesu Nawaz.
Kudalasangama is an important pilgrim centre associated with social reformer and poet-saint Basaveshwara of the 12th century. Kudalasangama is situated around 67 km away from Bijapur.
• Area 75.36 sq. km
• Population 193,131 (1991)
• Altitude 480 m above sea level
• Languages Kannada and English
• Best time to visit October to February
• STD code 08532