Somewhere in the back of my mind, there was always a trip to Hubli –Hampi. There were many 3 days long weekends in the Year 2014. My mind started sorting combinations in advance as soon as new schedule for the year came in hand. Many combinations were drafted and planned. Infact, most of the 3 days long weekends of the first half of the year went right into the bin. Because of my dependence on some people, thinking not to go without them, but then when I saw people change their loyalty according to the opportunity, I recoiled. I decided not to wait for anyone. Lesson learnt and started planning!
Plan started with Bijapur in the month of April, but because of extreme heat and other reasons it was pushed ahead. As a routine, my research on Bijapur started. As a rule, I never intend to visit one place at a time. It was always a combination of 2-3 places adding up to the original one. And I was struck with that splendid image of Badami, waterfall on the backdrop. I made up my mind to add Badami as prime place and sidelined Bijapur. More research gave way to Pattadakal, Aihole, Banashankari, Mahakut and subsequently it was rounded off with Hampi.
Biggest task was to complete these place in 3 days, which seemed impossible, and downsizing the places would have been unfair for the time taken to travel to these place. However, addition of more two days would have made the plan perfect, to complete it at our pace. So, there it was 5 days plan with inclusive of all must visit places. Initially, when I drafted the budget, it was around 3.5k. But when the final plan was ready, it surged to 4K. I sent out the emails to the usual people who join me without much persuasion. Some responded some didn’t. Finally 5 of us came in. All set. Tickets booked well in advance, we waited for the much needed break that we all were desperately itching to take. We had a small meeting prior to the trip, it was a compulsion from my side to make the people joining my trip, aware of the places, the time-limits, things to carry, dress code etc. so as to synchronize our enthusiasm as well as responsibility for the trip.
And the day arrived, bags packed, waited for the dusk to approach and we ran off to home to leave for our destination. Unfortunately, my tragic episode began from here. I kept 30 minutes buffer to reach CST to catch the train which was the ultimate mistake. Because of late evening with the added dose of heavy rainfall, I lost 15 minutes in traffic at Goregaon and remaining 20 minutes was consumed while waiting for fast train, offcourse with intermittent running, heavy haversack strapped to my back to catch trains here and there (did cause problem later on). It was unintentional silly mistake which snowballed into further misfortune. Two friends of mine had already boarded the train, My saga was something altogether different in some different timeline called Siddeshwar Express.
I saw the Hussain Sagar express leave, right before my eyes, with me standing in the opposite local train, which unfortunately had halted few metres prior to CST station. Somehow, I had to reach Solapur come what may. And with that determination, I enquired and came to know that there was next train called Siddeshwar express, which would have reached 1 hour later but who cares in such situation.
I did the marathon run for the ticket window and saw a long queue. Hoped to reach the counter in time. With just 5 minutes to spare, again, there was a run for life. First compartment I saw was Ladies, without thinking anything, got into it. And there it was – packed to the brim, barely a foot distance to stand. Children sleeping on the floor, ladies arguing over space. Somehow managed to get my haversack a place to keep, after a little persuasion (I realized I am so inexperienced in that) and 2 x 2 feet place to stand where for the rest of the night I sat wondering what was actually happening? I could barely sleep because every 5 minutes there was some noisy argument. I kept my cool hoping these 6 hours would pass soon. I never realized I was so patient in such adverse conditions. Ladies next to me were kind enough to let me occasionally sit on the proper seat while they slept uncomfortably on the floor. They actually felt sorry for me, while I was laughing like insane for missing the train with 3AC reserved seat and seating here in such a pathetic state, all crumbled up. After the initial bout of uncontrollable laugh there was long pause of sadness, I kept wondering when the dawn would arise. It was a long wait, with occasional stories from these ladies with my intermittent laugh. It was a lifetime experience, which made me promise myself to keep 2 hours buffer for any train. Somehow, reached Solapur, my phone battery too had drained, the aunties in the train helped me to call my friends and I was informed that they missed the next train to Bijapur because the former train was late to reach Solapur. Blame it on Rain Gods.
Anyways, it was a blessing in disguise for me. After the harrowing experience of Siddeshwar Express, I needed some happy moments. What better sunshine than to talk and talk, jibber jabber about last night and get some gyaan from friends about ‘never be late’ or ‘keep more buffer’ blah blah blah. One friend got the TC to sign our ticket, because the connecting train had already left before Hussain Sagar express which was supposed to reach in time for next connecting train arrived. The next train arrived and it left around 8.30 am, supposed to reach Bijapur by 11.00 am. Amidst all the banter, there was one friend who was supposed to reach Bijapur by Bus. She had confirmed late for the trip, her train tickets couldn’t be booked, she chose to come by bus. The main key for the success of any venture was communication. We four kept communicating throughout this ordeal.
Finally, kept our first foot on the land of Bijapur – The City of Victory. Being Independence day, there was air of patriotism everywhere, even we chose to wore the tricolor bands on our wrist, which I had got a day prior while shopping. We were supposed to get some surprises from another friend, he being from this side of State offered to throw some surprises. We unloaded our haversacks at the Cloak room located at the Bijapur Station. Since, our return journey was from same place in the evening, we chose to leave our stuff there. Carried whatever necessary, in smaller bags.
First on itinerary was Gol Gumbaz, which was directly outside the Station, but the entrance to the same was to go from the other side, almost like circumnavigating it. One of the surprises of Shrishail was guided tour by the Security official. He took us around, explaining each and every structure. Gol Gumbaz is the largest dome in India and largest second only to St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. The dome was built by Muhammad Adil Shah in the year 1656. Some of the parts were incomplete. The Monument itself was so enormous, we wondered how extravagant it would have been, if completed. The dome contains tombs of Muhammad Adil Shah, his two wives, his mistress, his daughter and grandson. Gol Gumbaz is an architectural wonder as it stands unsupported by pillars.
The most amazing feature of Gol Gumbaz is its acoustical system. Even the faintest whisper around the dome echoes several times. Since, we were almost there in the afternoon, the crowd was already pouring in numbers being a holiday. So, everyone was experimenting to their highest pitch.
We also managed to blare our vocals. Early morning visit would be advisable to try the ‘whispering gallery’. From the top of dome, entire city could be viewed in 360 degrees. Did some photo shoots and took some information on the rest of the monuments in Bijapur and we were off for next grandeur.
To tour Bijapur, City bus is advisable, as suggested by the Security personnel. We hoped into one, took the whole day pass, and were dropped first to Ibrahim Rouza. It was a architecture marvel . Reminded me of Majestic Taj Mahal.
This architecture marvel was built by Ibrahim ‘Adil Shah II, as a future mausoleum for his queen, Taj Sultana. Ironically, he died before her, and was thus the first person to be rested there. With Ibrahim Adil Shah and his queen are his daughter, his two sons, and his mother, Haji Badi Sahiba. It’s 24m-high minarets are said to have inspired those of the Taj Mahal.
The mausoleum designed by Malik Sandal was surrounded by a royal garden during the Shahi rule and still it exists.
Before coming to Bijapur, I had read about the 600+ years old Legendary Adansonia digitata (Baobab tree) standing proudly at Ibrahim Rouza complex. It was a must visit tree for me. We enquired with locals, who guided us to that tree. It was little farther away from the Rouza. We continued on foot, till we saw its canopy. It was a wonder of nature! We wondered, how much this historical living legend must have witnessed, so much blood-shed and Wars by human and is still standing tall. If it could talk, imagine the stories and pain that it must have seen. After hugging the living legend, we went ahead to next destination called Barah Kaman.
Bara Kaman means ’12 Arches’ is the unfinished mausoleum of Ali Adil Shah. Bara Kaman has the tombs of Ali Adil Shah, his wife Chand Bibi, mistress and his daughters.” It is an elegant structure with 12 interleaving graceful arches. Some say, It was previously named as Ali Roza, but later ruler of Bijapur changed its name to its current name of Barah Kaman as this was the 12th monument during his reign. Bara Kaman was planned in such a way that twelve arches would be placed vertically as well as horizontally surrounding the tomb of Ali Adil Shah. Many stone columns, some still linked by arches remain to this day. They surround the central courtyard with a single tomb placed in the centre, on huge square base plinth that raises high above landscaped garden. We relaxed here a bit, with photography and imagined how it would have been, if completed.
We had been delayed by almost 2 hours to reach Bijapur, which further affected our Bijapur schedule. We had decided to cover the major ones at Bijapur and leave for Badami. It was around 3 pm. Our train was scheduled to arrive at 4.00 pm. We had light snacks next to Bijapur station. Retrieved our bags and were off to Badami.
P.S. This is Part I of the trip – Bijapur, Badami, Pattadakal, Banashankari, Mahakut, Aihole and Hampi.
Link for Part II – Badami – Pattadakal-Banashankari – Mahakuta – Aihole : http://wp.me/p8Wdl9-fU
Link for Part III – Hampi : http://wp.me/p8Wdl9-eY