It’s been close to two weeks since I was back home from my Hyderabad to Bijapur road trip. It wasn’t my first visit to the town. I was here in 2004 as part of my school’s educational trip. However, back then little did I know about the town and the places we visited. Hence I decided to revisit & explore Bijapur Gol Gumbaz and Ibrahim Roza.
This blog post is about discovering the history of Bijapur and exploring the must-see sights of Gol Gumbaz and Ibrahim Roza. But before I talk about the places actually, a little brief about the town of Bijapur.
Bijapur – Throne Of Multiple Empires
Bijapur today features amongst the top 10 populated cities in Karnataka. In fact, it was upgraded to have its own municipal corporation in 2013. It is one of the popular tourist destinations in Karnataka and attracts thousands of visitors.
However, going down the history books, I learned that Bijapur has been a throne for many empires. Originally founded in the 11th century by the Kalyani Chalukya dynasty, it was ruled by powerful dynasties like Bahami Sultanate, Vijaynagar Empire, and Adil Shahi Dynasty. The town was also under fire from the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, the Nizam from Deccan as well as Shivaji from the Maratha empire. (And I don’t know if it’s because of this, but Bijapur has a very strong Marathi influence. I found a lot of people talking in Marathi, and Vada Pavs being sold as well)
While there were so many rulers that ruled the town, there was one particular dynasty under which the town flourished as a center for trade, art, and culture. Before being absorbed by the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb in the late 16th century, Bijapur was ruled by Adil Shahis for almost 2 centuries. The groundwork was started by the initial rulers, however, the beautification of Bijapur with palaces, mosques, and mausoleum was done by Ibrahim Adil Shah II, Mohammad Adil Shah.
It was during this period that architectural wonders like the iconic Gol Gumbaz and the serene Ibrahim Roza were erected. These are fine examples of Indo-Islamic architecture as well remind us of the rich past of Bijapur.
Explore Bijapur – Visiting The Historic Sites
Gol Gumbaz – The Architectural Marvel
As I mentioned in my earlier post as well, if you arrive in Bijapur by road, there is a high chance that you’ll spot the marvelous Gol Gumbaz. While the monument hasn’t changed much since my last visit in 2004, the area around it has surely improved. There’s a lot of greenery, large parking spaces, and public washrooms.
One of the good things here is that you can buy your entry ticket online instead of queuing up at the counter. While it is Rs 5 cheaper than the ticket window price, you need to get the QR code scanned at the counter which can take a while.
Talking about the Gol Gumbaz itself, it’s a mausoleum that houses the remains of Mohammad Adil Shah, the 7th sultan of the Adil Shahi dynasty, and his relatives. It is interesting to note that though the construction started in the 17th century, it never reached completion. It’s not a UNESCO World Heritage Site but has been on their tentative list for many years now.
Gol Gumbaz is a fine example of Indo-Islamic architecture and is considered among the largest domed structures in the world. The unique feature of Gol Gumbaz is its circular shape with a dome whose diameter is 44 meters. The pillar-less structure is supposed by four pillars on each side. The 60-meter-high chamber has a raised platform that has the tomb of Mohammad Adil Shah & his family.
Further, one can reach the top through the steep & narrow stairs in the four towers. However, currently, only a couple of them are used. One for entry and the other for exit. The base of the dome is called ‘Whispering Gallery‘. Whatever is spoken on one side of the dome can be heard clearly on the other end due to the design. So when you enter the interior, you’ll hear screams of people.
So whenever you’re in Bijapur, make sure to visit the Gol Gumbaz and experience the amazing architecture.
Ibrahim Roza – Timeless Elegance
This complex is built in the 16th century is one of the most beautiful tombs in India. Ibrahim Roza (Ibrahim Rouza ) is a complex of two buildings, a tomb and a mosque facing each other.
The tomb is the most ornate building in the complex. There are tombs of Ibrahim Adil Shah II along with his wife and children. Like a typical tomb, there’s a central hall that has tombs surrounded by a courtyard with beautiful arches. There are beautiful windows interlaced with Arabic script. As per history books, some of these scripts have a chronogram while there’s another that praises Ibrahim and the architects of the tomb. The ceilings too are beautifully carved and surely is a spectacle to the eyes. There are four minarets in each corner of the tomb that just add to the beauty of the tomb.
The mosque on the other side adds to the charm and elegance of the complex. Built at the same time, this is a fine example of the Deccani style of architecture. The mosque is designed with a central courtyard surrounded by arched galleries and domed roofs. The walls and ceilings of the mosque are adorned with intricate carvings, calligraphy, and stonework, creating a breathtaking atmosphere of beauty and serenity.
At one side of the mosque is the tomb of Begum Sahib, the wife of Aurangzeb who died due to the bubonic plague that wreaked havoc in the region. The entrance to the complex itself is breathtaking and is surely a sight to behold. There are parks where you can sit and appreciate the marvelous architecture. The ticket price here as well is Rs 20 if booked online or Rs 25 otherwise.
When are you visiting Bijapur?
Because I was short on time, I visited these two important must-see sights in Bijapur. There’s also the Jama Masjid, Bara Kaman, and a few other places of interest in Bijapur. If you’re planning a trip to Bijapur, make sure you have at least two days to explore the town. Apart from that you can also visit nearby places of Almatti, Aihole, and Pattadakal. I visited these two and will talk more about them in the upcoming blog posts.
Until then, if you have any queries about Bijapur, places to stay, or places to eat, do let me know in the comments below. You can also connect with me at @Atulmaharaj on Twitter, @Atulmaharaj on Instagram as well as Get In Touch.