Walking around Bijapur, in Karnataka is like traversing down a historic route. And there is more to it than just the monumental Gol Gumbaz, the symbol of the town. The Palmyra of the Deccan as the town is referred to is filled with monuments that takes you on a trail of the Adil Shahi Dynasty. Here are eleven must see monuments in Bijapur.
On a dry afternoon in Bijapur, I took an autorickshaw and explored the town. Mosques, mahals and mausoleums filled the landscape, throwing shadows of the past. The trees would part ways to show us a peek into an ancient monument. There were tanks and reservoirs everywhere. Citadels and palaces lay in ruins. But walking along Bijapur was like a treasure hunt, discovering monuments at every nook and corner of the town. Here are eleven must see monuments in Bijapur
Towers and cannons looked at us from every angle as the fort stood amidst the walls of the modern city, looking both crumbled and stately at the same time. It seemed like a motif of the town, built by Yusuf Adil Shah, the founder of the Adil Shah Dynasty in the 15th century. The citadel or the Arakella along with the Faroukh Mahal was built by him, who was believed to have been of Turkish origin, being a prince himself. The fort is probably crumbling today but it is one of the must see monuments in Bijapur
2. Gol Gumbaz
The very symbol of Bijapur, the Gol Gumbaz towers over all the monuments in the town. The monument is a mausoleum built in the 17th century for the Sultan of Bijapur, Mohammad Adil Shah and it is proudly referred to as the “structural triumph of Deccan architecture.”
The dome , one of the largest in the world was supposed to be like a budding rose, emerging from the petals of the flower that stood at its base and hence it was called the “rose dome”. Although this is one of the must see monuments in Bijapur, there are several others which are equally fascinating
3. Juma Masjid
Also known as the Jami or the Jamia Masjid, this 16th century mosque was not completed. A huge dome with nine bays, it is about 11,000 sq kms and is the largest mosque in Bijapur. In the 17th century, Mohammad Adil Shah insisted that the mehrab , shaped like an arch is gilded with gold as verses in Persian are inscribed on it.
4. Ibrahim Rauza
One of my personal favourites, this is the tomb of Ibrahim Adil Shah 11, built in the 17th century and along with Gol Gumbaz, one of the must see monuments in Bijapur. Standing as a twin monument, with a mosque and a mausoleum, this is a beautiful structure, with some elegantly carved motifs. The tomb was supposed to be the inspiration for the Taj Mahal in Agra.
5. Bara Kaman
Another tomb , this incomplete monument was planned to overshadow the Gol Gumbaz but one never knows why it was not finished . Built by Ali Adil Shah 11 as a mausoleum for him and his family, the structure built in Gothic style was abruptly stopped. Arches built of basalic stone lie half complete , even as twelve of them were planned.
6. Upli burj
A tall tower greets you right in the middle of the road . This is the Upli Burj built by Hyder Khan in the 16th century. A flight of steps carved in the tower takes you on top from where you can see two cannons guarding the town of Bijapur. A great place to enjoy the views of the town, especially around early morning or during sunset
7.Malik E Maidan
The Monarch of the Plains as it is referred to lies in inside Sheraza Burj or the Lion’s Gate and is one of the largest canons of medieval times. At 15 feet of length, with a diameter of about 5 feet, the canon weighs about 55 tonnes. It was a war trophy erected by Ibrahim Rauza after the Vijaynagar Empire was defeated in the Battle of Talikota in the 16th century. The muzzle was shaped like a lion’s head, crushing an elephant to death in its jaws. Cast in Ahmednagar and was apparently dragged here by oxen and elephants.
The private residence of the royal family in the 16th century, Gagan Mahal was built by Ali Adil Shah 1. Also called the Heavenly or Sky Palace, the palace houses a durbar hall and some private rooms. With a 21 metre façade with beautiful arches, the palace is sadly in ruins today.
One of the most elegantly designed gateways to a mosque, Mehtar Mahal has some of the most beautiful bracket figures. Although Bijapur is strewn with several palaces , Mehtar Mahal is not one of them. Built in 17th century in the Indo Sarcenic style, the carvings of birds are exquisite , while the structure has balconies with stone trellis work
A seven storeyed mansion, it was once considered one of the tallest buildings in Bijapur. Today barely five of them remain and mostly in ruins. Known for their stucco work and paintings, Sat Manzil was probably a pleasure pavilion built in the 16th century.
11. Saat Kabar
The last monument that I saw in Bijapur was a bit grave and eerie . Saat Kabar refers to sixty tombs of women, killed by one man their husband, Afzal Khan, the army chief of Adil Shah 11. An astrologer tells him that he will be killed in a battle. So he decides to kill all his 60 wives lest they remarry after the war. So, he beckons them to an isolated spot and pushes them into a well and murders them.
Have you been to Bijapur ? Do recommend more must see monuments in Bijapur for my next trail.