This town boasts some of India’s finest Moslem monuments, dating from the 15th to the 17th centuries when Bijapur was the capital of the Adil Shahi kings.
Most famous is the 17th century Golgumbaz. This vast mausoleum is topped with an enormous dome, the second largest in the world after St Peter’s in the Vatican. Built towards the end of the Adil Shahi’s reign it is famed for its extraordinary acoustics.
The Jama Masjid (Friday Mosque) is one of the finest mosques in India and there are abundant further examples of Moslem architecture scattered throughout this traditional and fascinating town.
What to see
The Gol Gumbaz: The magnificent tomb of Mohammad Adil Shah, boasts the world’s second largest dome, unsupported by pillars. Even a pin drop is distinctly heard from across a space of 38 m in the Whispering Gallery. Choose your words with care. You’ll never forget them.
The Magar Khana: It is a museum today. It has some of the most beautiful Chinese porcelain, armoury, carpets, parchments and paintings of the time. Seen from a small distance away, the two buildings look like one. In the gloom inside the Gumbaz, lies the tomb of Mohammad Adil Shah, flanked by the tombs of his wife, daughter and favourite court dancer. High above you vaults the world-famous dome. You would never guess the existence of the Whispering Gallery from below, which could scat a thousand people. You climb up many high and narrow steps to it, intercepted by seven platforms. The plaster here is made from an unlikely mixture of eggs, jaggery, cow dung and grass. Bijapur spreads out beneath you, its monuments punctuating the sky and the 10 km long fort wall, vanished in places, circling it. The village spills beyond this almost non-existent confinement.
The Jama Mazjid: It is the finest mosque in the Deccan and is crowned by a large onion dome. The invading Aurangzeb, added a grand entrance and painted the floor with 2,250 squares, one for each worshipper. The sacred alcove has the Quran daintily painted on it in letters of gold.
The Ibrahim Roza: A palatial mosque and tomb is very beautiful and symmetrical with its many delicate minarets. It is said to have inspired the Taj Mahal and was chosen by Aurangzeb as his residence. Its architect Malik Sandal claimed, “At the beauty of this structure paradise stood amazed”. Panels decorated with crosses, lotuses and wheels signify the religious tolerance of the Adil Shahi dynasty. Built in the 17th century as a tomb for the wife of the 6th Adil Shahi Sultan-Ibrahim Adil Shahll, it also houses his tomb, since he died before she did.
Malik-i-Maidan: Perched on top of the fort wall, the Malik-i-Maidan a 55 tonne, 4.3 m long cannon was hauled from battle-scarred Purandar in Maharashtra with the help of 400 bullocks, 10 elephants and men. The cannon is really the jaws and throat of a lion devouring elephants. To avoid the deafening explosion, the gunner would submerge himself in a tank of water on the platform. The gunmetal is cool even in the heat. It is said that if you touch it and make a wish, it is granted. You’ll pass by the Mehtar Mahal with filigreed balconies and slender minarets built for the sweepers of the royal house!
STD Code: 08352
Around Bijapur (Distances and directions from Bijapur): 110 kms, 134 kms and 120 kms away are the rock cut temples of Aihole, Pattadakal and Badami . Standing close to each other (within a 13 km radius), these temple towns represent Chalukyan architecture at its best.
Aihole : Famous as the ‘cradle of Indian temple architecture’, Aihole has 125 temples intricately carved, rich in detail. The oldest temple is perhaps the 5th century Lad Khan Temple. The Durga (Fort) Temple has a semi-circular apse and a complete portico. The Hutchmalli Temple, the Ravalphadi Cave Temple, the Konti Temple complex, the Uma Meheshwari Temple, the Jain Meghuti Temple and the two-storied Buddhist Temple are the other attractions at Aihole.
Pattadakal : A World Heritage Centre, it has 10 major temples representing early Chalukyan architecture. The biggest temple dedicated to Virupaksheshvara, has a huge gateway and several inscriptions. In fron of the temple is a majestic 2.6 m high Nandi. The Mallikarjuna and Papanatha Temples, and the Jain Temple from the Rashrakuta period are well worth a visit.
Badami : 120 Km from Bijapur is picturesquely situated at the mouth of a ravine between gold-rust sandstone cliffs . It is a lovely land with the Hindu and Jain temples carved out of the sandstone hills, beneath which the ancient Bhuthanatha Lake (so called after temples on its shore) spreads out green and-tranquil. It is said to have healing properties. The natural gorge embellished with temples and gateways, leading to this hill city, is one of the most to-be-seen attractions of Badami, besides the famous cave temples with sculpture that seems to come alive under your eyes, graceful and full of vigour. There is a wealth of indispensable inscriptions here about Indian history. The gun point, to reach which you must climb almost chest-high steps, offers a panorama of haunting Badami