Thursday, February 14, 2008


Gol Gumbaj - 2nd largest dome in the world

Bijapur is famous for two things:
· Its acoustic wonder Gol Gumbaj - with its 2nd largest dome in the world, and the
· Malik-e-Maidan (Monarch of the Fields) - one of the largest bell metal guns in the world.

A single visit to Bijapur was not enough.
I had to visit Bijapur a second time to really soak in the sights and sounds of Bijapur.

Moreover, about two hours drive from Bijapur are the fabulous rock cut temples of Aihole, Pattadakal and Badami representing the best of Chalukyan architecture.


Bijapur is about a thousand years old.
The foundations of Bijapur were laid during the reign of the Chalukya dynasty between the tenth and eleventh centuries.
It was then called Vijayapura or the “City of Victory” which over the years has become distorted to the present Bijapur.

Bijapur came under Muslim rule, first under Allaudin Khilji, the Sultan of Delhi, towards the end of the 13th century, and then under the Bahamani Kings of Bidar in 1347.

Bahamani power declined. In 1489, Yusuf Adil Khan, the Bahamani Governor of Bijapur declared Bijapur independent and founded the Adil Shahi dynasty which survived till the kingdom was annexed by the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb in 1686.

Bijapur reached its zenith under the Adil Shahi dynasty.
During this period, more than 50 mosques, more than 20 tombs and a large number of palaces were built.

One remarkable change the rulers of the Adil Shahi dynasty made was that they employed large numbers of Indian craftsmen whereas the earlier Muslim rulers employed Persian craftsmen and architects.

In 1724, the Nizam of Hyderabad became the ruler of Bijapur.
In 1760, the Marathas defeated the Nizam.
The Marathas in turn were defeated by the British in 1818.

The City

The city consists of three distinct portions:
· the citadel,
· the fort, and
· the remains of the city.

The citadel, which is one mile in circumference, was built by Yusuf Adil Shah.
It is very strong and well built with massive materials.

It is encompassed by a 100 yards wide ditch, which was originally filled with water, but now nearly filled up with rubbish.
Within the citadel are the remains of old Hindu temples which prove that Bijapur was an important Hindu town in pre Islam times.

The fort, which was completed by Au Adil Shah in 1566, is surrounded by a wall 6 m. in circumference.

Its wall is between 30 to 50 ft. high, reinforced with ninety six massive bastions of different designs.
In addition, there are ten others at the various gateways.
The width is about 25 ft.
A battlemented curtained wall about 10 ft. high runs from bastion to bastion.
The whole is surrounded by a deep moat 30 to 40 ft. wide.
Outside the walls are the remains of a vast city, now mostly in ruins.

But the remains of the innumerable tombs, mosques, caravan serais and other edifices, offer clear evidence of the ancient splendour of the place.

What to see

Gol Gumbaz

The most important monument in Bijapur is the world famous Gol Gumbaz with its unique dome.

The Gol Gumbaz is actually the tomb of Mohammed Adil Shah (1627-56), the 7th ruler of the Adil Shahi dynasty.
It was completed in 20 years and is visible for miles around.

The Gol Gumbaz was built on a 200 yards square platform.
The diameter of the dome is 124 feet.
The external height of the dome is 198 ft.
Its internal height is 175 ft.
There are no supporting pillars within the dome.
There are 4 minarets or towers 8 storeys high, 12 ft broad.
You can climb up the minarets by winding staircases.

Its dome, measuring 38 meters in diameter, is the second largest in the world - second only to St Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
The central chamber of Gol Gumbaz is unique because every sound echoes seven times.

The Whispering Gallery is even more unique.
You can clearly hear the ticking of a watch, or the rustle of paper, 37 metres away.

From the gallery around the dome, you can have a bird’s eye view of the entire town.

The Gol Gumbaz complex includes a mosque, a Naqqar Khana (hall for the trumpeteers) (Now it is used as museum) and ruins of guest houses.

A cenotaph slab in the floor in the basement marks the site of the grave.
This is the only instance of this practice in Adil Shahi architecture.

Ibrahim Roza

Roza literally means a garden.

The Ibrahim Roza is a square enclosure encompassing 2 buildings - one building houses the tombs of Ibrahim Adil Shah II and his family.
The tomb was constructed under the orders of Ibrahim Adil Shah (1580-1627).

The other is a mosque.

The doors are

It has striking symmetry of proportion, exquisite minarets cupolas, parapets & cornices and is believed to have been the inspiration for the Taj Mahal at Agra.

The entire structure has been built on a single slab of bed-rock with the mausoleum on the left and the prayer hall to the right.
The gardens are beautifully sculpted and enclosed within an imposing wall and have some superb gateways.

Two stone chains (each carved from a single rock) hang from the sides of the prayer hall.
Each door (made in teak wood and re-enforced in metal) in this complex is unique.

The arches in the hallway surrounding the inner perimeter of the mausoleum are superbly crafted.
The facades of the building provide some stunning art-work in stone, including a map to the basement, which lies under the mausoleum.


Malik-e-Maidan (meaning Monarch of the Plains) is one of the largest bell metal guns in the world.

It was built under the orders of Burham Nizam Shah I for his son-in-law Adil Shah.

It measures 4.45 m in length, is 1.5 m in diameter and weighs 55 tons.
It is installed on the walls of the city on one of the bastions of the fort (called the Buruz or Lion Tower).

I marveled at the unique cannon.
I touched it in the blistering sun.
It was surprisingly cool.
It is made of some alloy which keep it always cool - even under the blazing sun.
When tapped gently, it tinkles softly like a bell.

The muzzle of the gun is shaped like the head of a lion with open jaws.
Depicted between the carved fangs of the lion is an elephant being crushed to death.

Jumma Masjid

This is the largest and first constructed mosque in Bijapur.
The total area of the mosque is 10,810 sq m.It was built between 1557 -1686, most of it during Ali Adil Shah reign, who acquired the land after defeating the rich Ramaraja of Vijayanagar.

The main part of the mosque stands to the west and has nine huge arches on their facade that deepen into five arches and form 45 compartments.
The majestic tomb rises above the roof in a semicircle resembling the bud of a flower.

This imposing mosque (the rectangle is 170m x 70 m) is incomplete, lacking in 2 minarets.

The original gateway is on the northern side.
Aurangzeb extended the mosque in the east, the south and the north verandah and built the eastern gate.

The interior of the mosque shows restraint, except for some decorative motifs on the apexes of the arches.
The heavy curtain hangs over the "Mehrab", which has domes, minarets, niches with books, flower vases & Persian writings inscribed on it.

Gol-Gumbaz Archaeological Museum

This museum is located in the building just in front of the Gol-Gumbaz.
It contains art from the Chalukya as well as Adil Shahi periods.

Getting there


The nearest airport is Belgaum(205 kms), which is well connected to Mumbai and Bangalore.


Bijapur is well connected to Bangalore, Mumbai (via Solapur) ; Hyderabad (via Solapur or Hotgi Jn); Hospet (via Gadag) ; Vasco da Gama (via Hubli and Londa).


Bijapur is well connected to many cities in south and west India.

Around Bijapur

110 kms, 134 kms and 120 kms away from Bijapur are the fabulous rock cut temples of Aihole, Pattadakal and Badami representing the best of Chalukyan architecture.
These are places which you cannot possibly afford to miss.


kranthi P said...
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snigdha G said...
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