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BIJAPUR HISTORY & TRAVEL INFORMATION
Bijapur District and City are situated in the state of Karnataka. The best time to visit Bijapur is between October and February.
The Chalukya Rulers of Kalyani established the city in 10th and 11th centuries and originally named Vijayapura or city of victory. In the 13th century the Khilji Sultanate of Delhi conquered the territory. In 1347 the Bahmani Sultanate of Gulbarga annexed it to their kingdom. Bijapur was later one of the five successor kingdoms to Bahmani Sultanate in 1518. The Adil Shahi Dynasty rulers governed this territory from 1490 to 1686. Most of the important historical monuments in Bijapur were built under the patronage of Adil Shah and the rulers who succeed him in the Adil Shahi Dynasty. Adil Shah was the founder of the sovereign state of Bijapur and his successors ruled the area until Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb conquered the territory. In 1724 the Nizam of Hyderabad included Bijapur in his domains after declaring his sovereignty. The Maratha Peshwa Rulers defeated the armies of the Nizam of Hyderabad in 1760 and they ruled Bijapur until the British East India Company defeated them in the Third Anglo-Maratha War in 1818. The British assigned Bijapur to the princely state of Satara who administered the territory. In 1848 after there was no male heir to the throne of Satara, its territories were annexed by the British East India Company and merged with their Bombay Presidency. After India was independent in 1947 Bijapur was assigned initially to Bombay State. In 1956 it was merged to Karnataka State that was then known as Mysore.
Bijapur has three distinct sections comprising of the Citadel, the Fort and the remaining part of the city. The citadel was built under Yusuf Adil Shah. It has a circumference of about one mile with massive walls and a surrounding 100 yards wide moat that used to have water in it. The moat has now been completely filled up. There are remains of a Hindu Temple in the citadel leading to the conclusion that Bijapur was an important town even before the Islamic Sultanate was established. The construction of the Fort was completed during the reign of Au Adil Shah in 1566. Its wall is about 6 miles in circumference and it is between 30 to 50 feet high. It has 96 massive bastions of different architectural styles. In addition to these there are another 10 bastions that have gateways in them. The width of the bastions is about 25 feet or 7.6 meters. The wall between the bastions is about 10 feet or 3 meters high. The entire wall is surrounded by a 30 to 40 feet moat that is quite wide. The remains of the ancient city outside the walls are mostly in ruins now. There are tombs of various rulers, mosques, caravanserais and many other buildings in the ancient city. In the neighboring region there are some very important Hindu temples at Badami, Aihole and Pattadakal dating mostly from the Chulukyan Dynasty period.
Gol Gumbaj is definitely the most famous monument in Bijapur. It is the tomb of the seventh ruler of Adil Shahi Dynasty, Sultan Mohammed Adil Shah who ruled from 1627 to 1657. The name literally means a round dome. He ordered a renowned architect, Yaqut of Dabul to design and build his mausoleum in his own lifetime. He wished his tomb to be as good as that of his father, Sultan Ibrahim Adil Shah II. It is the second largest dome ever built in the world, next in size only to St. Peters Basilica in Rome, Italy. The floor area of the chamber is 1700 square meters or 5577 square feet. The diameter of the chamber is 37 meters or 121 feet. The height of the dome above the chamber floor is 51 meters or 167 feet. The walls of this chamber are 3 meters or almost 10 feet thick. The dome does not rest on any pillars.
The construction of the central chamber was done in a way that even the slightest sound echoes 11 times. In the whispering gallery of the central chamber minutest sound can be heard 37 meters or 121 feet away. The mausoleum has a mosque, a Naqqar Khana or the hall of the trumpeters that is now converted into a museum and the ruins of guest houses. The construction of the tomb was never finished with the result that there are only two minarets on the corners of the tomb. The exterior face shows three huge blind arches. The central arch is wider than the other two and has a small entrance gate with three rows of arched windows. The entrance to the tomb is in the south. A meteorite (Bijli Patthar) that had fallen during the reign of Muhammad Adil Shah, is hung by a chain from a cornice. They believed that it guarded the tomb from lightening. The base of the dome is beautifully carved with elegant petals that hide the drum. On the exterior the diameter of the dome is 44 meters or 144 feet and its height from a surrounding circular platform is about 27 meters or 88 feet. The total height of the dome from ground level in its exterior is about 60 meters or 196 feet. There was a unique architectural style utilized to support the huge dome that has not been used any where else in India and the only other example of it is in the Great Mosque of Cordoba in Spain. The dome has a thickness of 3.5 meters or 11 feet. There are six openings at its base. The corner minarets are not in harmony with the rest of the architecture of the mausoleum. Because of the projecting cornices at seven levels they give the tomb the look of a Chinese pagoda.
Inside the mausoleum in the central chamber there are cenotaphs of Sultan Mohammad Adil Shah, his two queens, his mistress Rambha, his daughter and his grandson. The main cenotaph is made of a wooden canopy. The real graves are in the basement which can be reached by going into a staircase below the western entrance.
There is an Archaeological Survey of India Museum in the Gol Gumbaj complex. The museum located in the Naqquar Khana (Trumpet House) of the Gol Gumbaz Complex, was originally established as a district museum in 1892. Later on it was taken over to develop it as a site museum in 1982. Naqquar Khana is in typical Adilshahi architectural style and has elevated platforms and tall and loft arches raised over massive piers. The large and good massive showcases introduced by the British officers, themselves have become good examples of antique furniture.
The collection comprises of stone inscriptions of Arabic, Persian, Kannada and Sanskrit languages in different scripts and written in varied calligraphy, Brahmanical and Jaina sculptures, hero stones, illustrated and plain manuscripts, coins, China wares, wooden carving, carpets, maps, sanads and firmans, miniature pantings, Bidiri ware and other house hold articles, datable from 6th to 18th century AD.
The museum has six galleries, three in the ground floor and the rest in upper story. It houses a majority of movable cultural property of the region with a special collection of Adilshahi art objects.
The first gallery displays Brahmanical sculptures and second gallery has Jain sculptures. Third gallery displays inscriptions of Arabic, Persian, Sanskrit and Kannada languages with a variety of calligraphy. Fourth gallery exhibits arms, weapons and other metal wares. Fifth gallery has miniature painting, carpets, smaller metal objects. Sixth gallery exhibits Arabic and Persian manuscript, China porcelain wares etc. Inscribed slabs depicting excellent calligraphy, illustrated manuscripts of the Holy Quran, arms and weapons, well attired torso of a royal person, photo enlargements of excellent specimens of Adilshahi miniatures, translides of kings and queens and world’s famous monuments comparable with Gol Gumbaz are the main attractions in the museum.
There is an entrance fee of INR 2 per person. The museum is open from 10 AM to 5 PM on all days except Fridays.
Ibrahim Rauza is the tomb of Sultan Ibrahim Adil Shah II who reigned from 1580 to 1627 and was the fifth ruler of the dynasty. He was renowned for his religious tolerance in the tradition of Mughal Emperor Akbar. The tomb is built on a single rock bed. The Ibrahim Rouza area has the Sultan's tomb and a mosque facing each other. There is an entrance fee of US$ 2 or INR 100 for foreigners other than from SAARC countries.
Malik e Maidan or the monarch of the plains is the largest medieval cannon in the world. It is 4 meters or 13 feet long, 1.5 meters or 4 feet in diameter and weighs 55 tons. 400 oxen, 10 elephants and many men helped carry the gun from Ahmednagar in 17th century as a trophy. It was placed on Sherza (Lion) gate on a platform that was especially constructed for it. It is said the gunner dived into a pool of water after firing it to avoid the deafening noise. The cannon remains cool even in the hot summer temperature and clings like a bell when tapped.
Upri Buruj is an 80 feet or 24 meters high minaret in the north of Dakhani Idgah Mosque in Bijapur and was constructed in 1584. It is a spherical structure with stone steps winding around the outside. On top of the Buruj there are two huge guns.
Chand Bawdi was a water tank in the eastern part of Bijapur that was constructed during the reign of Ali Adil Shah between 1557 and 1580. After the fall of Vijayanagar Empire there was a large influx of people into Bijapur and this tank was built for the water supply. The Sultan named this tank after his queen, Chand Bibi.
The mausoleum of Adil Shah commonly known as Barakaman (12 arches in Urdu) or Ali Roza II. This was also never completed.
Asar Mahal was the hall of justice and was constructed during the reign of Mohammad Adil Shah in about 1646. It is believed that the building used to house the hairs from the beard of Prophet Muhammad. Women are not allowed to enter this building.
The nearest airport is at Belgaum where flights from Mumbai and Bangalore land.
The nearest train station is at Hotgi. Other train stations in the neighborhood are at Gulbarga and Sholapur.
Hotel Madhuvan nearest to Gol Gumbaj Complex - 28 rooms
Hotel Pleasant Stay (newer hotel) - 28 rooms
Distances from Bijapur:
Sholapur – 101 kilometers or 63 miles
Gulbarga – 145 kilometers or 90 miles
Belgaum – 205 kilometers or 127 miles
Hyderabad – 420 kilometers or 261 miles
Mumbai – 500 kilometers or 311 miles
Bangalore – 530 kilometers or 329 miles
Hampi - 235 kilometers or 146 miles