Bijapur / Vijayapur – City of Victory!

HIGHLIGHTS:

The land of ruins literally! It should be actually called as “land of Bawdis” or “Land of Masjids” or “Land of amazing Topes”

City was first founded by Chalukyas, some traces can still be seen- The lion and the elephant symbol.

Palmyra of Deccan, palaces, arches, tombs, cisterns, gateways, minarets, slowly being engulfed by weeds, due to neglect.

When I first visited this city, visited barely 2-3 monuments, while studying further realised the numerous things that this amazing city is hiding in plain sight.

The Bawdis or wells, more than 150 were built and now other than Taj and Chand Bawdi, rest are relatively unknown. Still, 30 are in use and mostly filled with garbage.

The pathetic sight was locating the Landa Kasab Gun and finding it in midst of garbage. People use that place as dumping ground. 

We have so much amazing heritage structures and we don’t care for them.

Places covered: Bara Kaman, Saat manjli, Gagan Mahal, Ibrahim Rouza, Taj Bawdi, Malik- e- Maidan, Upli Buruz, Shivgiri, Gol Gumbaz, Mustafabad Cannon, Badi Kaman, Jami Masjid, Asar Mahal, Jod Gumbaz, Mehtar Mahal, Afzal Khan Cenotaph, Sangeet Nari Mahal, Saath Kabar, Landa Kasab Tope, Caravanserai tombs, Chand Bawdi.

Still some or other remains. Maybe after some years again will visit🤪



Bijapur also called as Vijayapura (City of Victory) was founded by the Kalyani Chalukyas in the 10th – 11th Century. Later, it came under Yadavas and then under Bahmani Sultanate of Gulbarga. It was the capital of Adil Shahi Kings, thereafter Aurangazeb ruled from 1686 and downfall started for this once glorious city. Because of various rules, Islamic as well as Shaivik influence can be seen in the architecture.

There is a direct train from Mumbai to Bijapur (CSTM-Gadag Express) via Solapur which leaves at 09:20 PM and the same train can be boarded back at 5:45 PM from Bijapur station.

3AC tickets were booked for to & fro Journey. Hotel was booked at Sagar Deluxe, which was very closer to Bara Kaman. Reached by 09:30 am. First thing I did was, checked in Hotel and left the hotel by 10.30 am. Since, Bara Kaman was nearby, went there first.  There were hardly any soul around, good for me, I got to click without photobombs.

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Bara Kaman

Bara Kaman (12 arches) was built in 1672 as a Mausoleum. However, it remained incomplete and only two arched were raised vertically. Earlier, it was called as Ali Rouza. It was changed to Bara Kaman by Shah Nawaz Khan. (It houses the tombs of Ali, his Queens and eleven other females with even greenish tomb laid with art work in itself. This is built of brown basaltic stone in Gothic style built on a raised platform with 215 feet (66m) square building.)

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Gagan Mahal

After Bara kaman, hired an auto to visit few nearby monuments starting with Gagan Mahal. Gagan Mahal meant touching the sky was built in 1561 AD by Sultan Ali Adil Shah. It was used as Sultani Residence and Royal Court. There is lots of woodwork. One of the notable moments happened here was when Mughal emperor Aurangazeb defeated the last Adil Shahi ruler Sikandar, Aurangazeb sat on the throne at this palace and Sikandar was brought in silver chains as captive before Aurangazeb.

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Saat Manzil

Saat Manzil is next to Gagan Mahal on the other side of the road. Although, now it is used for administrative purpose, saw it from outside. It was a seven storied Palace built by Ibrahim Adil Shah II in 1583 (Also, known for Gol Gumbaz). Out of 7, only 5 storey of about 97 feet exists. The Chini Mahal or Faroukh Mahal also formed part of Sath manzil Palace. This building was mostly used for pleasure and royal bath because of presence of ornamental baths and cistern in different rooms, which are connected by water pipes.

On the way to Ibrahim Rouza, stopped at Jod Gumbaz situated near the Mecca Gate. Jod Gumbaz as referred as ‘Two Sisters or Twin Domes’ was known as Abdul Razaq Darga and was built in the year 1687. This twin domes are tombs of Khan Muhammad and Abdul Razzaq Qadiri.

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Jod Gumbaz

Further, went to Ibrahim Rouza. Sun was already on the top of the head. Here, spent more time capturing the beauty of marvelous Rouza. It is a square structure with twin buildings and delicate carvings. I had been here earlier with others friends of mine. Still, took more time to admire the artworks and minarets. It is a Tomb Complex which houses Ibrahim Adil Shah II and his wife Queen Taj Sultana. It was completed in the year 1627.

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Ibrahim Rouza

As per some notes, this building was designed by the Persian architect Malik Sandal incorporating some of the verses of Quran on the walls. It is known for its arches, halls and large bulbous dome, which rises from a Lotus petal base. The fountain in the decorative tank separates the Tomb and the Mosque.

 

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Ibrahim Rouza

Scholars have said that the Ibrahim Rouza has a well-executed plan of a building in its entirety, harmonizing architecture with ornamentation. If it had been built of marble, Ibrahim Rouza would have been a close challenger to the glory of Taj Mahal. And, I do second that.

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Taj Baudi

Later, proceeded to Taj Baudi. The gates were closed. Auto driver informed that, few months back this tank was drained completely and cleaned, and to avoid local people to wash or utilize the water, they had locked it up. I managed to click it from outside. This water reservoir was built by Ibrahim Adil Shah in the honor of his wife Queen Taj Sultana in the year 1620. It has a Gothic style arched entrance bordered by two octagonal towers

After Taj Baudi, had lunch at Seesha Restaurant (read good reviews online), which was at the crossroad near the bus stand. Food was okay-ish.

After Lunch, went to see the Mallik-e-maidan Cannon also called as “Lord of Plains”. This cannon is placed on the Sherza-i-Burj (Lion Gate), which is the largest bastion of the fort. The cannon weighs 55 tonnes, is 15 feet long and five feet wide.  There is inscription on the cannon which states the name of th (The unique aspect about it is that it’s cast in an unknown alloy, unlike most other cannons that are cast in iron.)

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Mallik-e-maidan Cannon

The inscriptions on the cannon say that it was cast by Muhammad bin Hasan Rumi in 1549. Aurangzeb added an inscription after he conquered the city, recording his victory. The muzzle is shaped like a lion’s head with the jaws open and sharp teeth digging into the elephant.

The cannon was cast for the Nizam Shahi rulers of Ahmednagar and was used in the Battle of Talikota (1565) in which the Vijayanagar Empire was brought down by the confederacy of   Deccan Sultanates. It was then mounted on a fort under the Ahmednagar Sultan, but was captured from him by the Sultan of Bijapur in the mid-17th century as a war trophy. The mount of the gun is missing and the tourists have defaced the surface of the cannon by carving initials onto it.

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Upli Buruz

Thereafter, went to see the Upli Buruz cannons. Upli Buruz also called as Hyder Buruz, since it was built by Hyder Khan, one of the famous commanders in the Adil Shahi Army. This Buruz is a tall cylindrical tower with  a stair case winding around it. It mainly served the defence purpose, two cannons were placed on top of it. Entire city can be viewed from the top.

Rounding off the day with Shivgiri. Shivgiri was more of Picnic spot. There is a huge Shiva Statue, and well maintained garden.

In the night, had dinner at Bangalore Restaurant, which was nearby on the main road. Food was good and reasonably priced. In the night, I thought of enquiring regarding Motorbike rentals, luckily got one. Because most of the places are within the city except 2-3 of them. It would be easier to roam on 2-wheeler than spending again on Autos (who quote quite exorbitantly).

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Cannons displayed outside the Museum

For next day, were supposed to get 2-wheeler after 8.30 am. Instead of wasting time, got into shared auto (Rs. 10/-) to Gol Gumbaz. This place should be visited in the early morning because the “whispering gallery” becomes too crowded and noisy. I was dropped at the gate, Gol Gumbaz is behind the Museum. Early morning Sunrays were lighting up the Gumbaz beautifully. Gol Gumbaz has the biggest Dome in Asia and second largest in the World. There are six sided enclosed narrow staircases with small domes on all the four sides. This monument is considered as an engineering marvel because of its enormous size and stability over the years. The whispering gallery has its own fame, even the mild sound is multiplied hundred fold and it reverberates back. This magnificent monument was commissioned by Muhammad Adil Shah. At the ground level, there is tomb of Muhammad Adil Shah, his two wives, son, daughter, his mistress and grandson. Gol Gumbaz also houses Mosque Naqqar Khana, Gateway and a Dharamshala, the building opposite to Gol Gumbaz. Dharamshala has been turned into a gallery which showcases Adil Shah Dynasty’s history.

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Gol Gumbaz

(A popular Adil Shahi legend has it that the kings of that dynasty had chased and caught a “bolt of lightning and later hung it in front of the world famous Gol Gumbaz in Bijapur.” And that ‘bolt of lightning’ can be spotted even today! Tied in a tripod-like ring and hung through a solid rust-resistant steel chain on the facade of the Gol Gumbaz, the ‘bolt of lightning’ that can be seen only from a close angle, has been a subject of curious debate for people in this part of Karnataka for centuries. Known as sidilu among local people, this object is in reality a piece of meteorite.

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Museum on the way to Gol Gumbaz

There is an interesting story associated with the meteorite. A story that talks of the Adil Shahi Sultans’ faith in astrology and how the meteorite metamorphosed into ‘lightning’. Local legend has it that the meteorite landed in a village where the Gol Gumbaz was being constructed. On hearing the news, Mohammed Ali Adil Shah, who built the Gol Gumbaz, personally went to the site to bring the piece of rock from space in a grand procession. A strong believer in astrology, King Mohammed Ali thought it was a good omen and would help him expand his kingdom further if it was preserved safely. Therefore, he brought the meteorite and hung it on the facade of the Gol Gumbaz. This meteorite was almost forgotten after the Adil Shahi dynasty collapsed in the late 17th century. Later, many stories were concocted around it and there was an aura of mystery surrounding the meteorite. But it was Henry Cousens, a British officer who served as the chief archaeology officer in Western India in 1896, who re-discovered and recorded it.

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Talking about this artefact in his magnum opus ‘Ruins of Bijapur City,’ Cousens says, “This is a rare piece of rock and believed to bring good luck to those who possess it. Therefore, Mohammed Ali Adil Shah might have brought and dangled it before the Gol Gumbaz.” H Venkateshaiah, the Regional Director of the Archeological Survey of India (ASI), also endorses this theory. After the Adil Shahis, only Cousens had the opportunity to touch this object during the Gol Gumbaz renovation during his period.

_DSC6169There were no proper records available about this meteorite after the Adil Shahi dynasty ended. Because it resembles lightning, a majority of people in the region still think that it causes havoc when it strikes. They continue to believe that it was the great Adil Shahi kings who chased and caught ‘lightning’ and later hung it in front of the Gol Gumbaz, without verifying the authenticity of the information. Ironically, in an era of huge advancements in science and technology, people in the region refuse to believe that it is a meteorite. – Sourced from net).

Above picture is of Mustafabad Cannon, which can be seen from one side of Gol Gumbaz. Bike had reached the gates, picked it up after handing over the deposit amount of Rs. 1000/- and rent for the day of Rs. 500/-. First got the tank fueled up (Rs. 80) and had breakfast at Kamat Restaurant .

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Asar Mahal

First on the map was Asar Mahal, although in total ruined condition, it is quite a spread out structure. There is a mosque which is still functional. The arches and some part are almost on verge of collapse. Asar Mahal also called as Adalat Mahal was built in 1646 by Muhammad Shah. There is a big square tank outside in front of the building just opposite the Mosque.

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Arches almost on the verge of collapse

Passed through Badi Kaman. It was a big gate, through which vehicles pass.

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Badi Kaman Gate

Next was Jama Masjid. It was one of the finest structure with 3 gates. Two gates on front and one from back or vice versa. Jama Masjid was built in 1578 by Ali Adil Shah I. THe Mosque displays the combination of early Adil Shahi Architecture along with Bahmani styles. The arches seems incomplete.

Ali Adil Shah I constructed this mosque to mark his victory from the Battle of Rakkasagi – Tangadagi in Talikoti in 1565 against Ramaraya of Vijayanagara. Since, his treasury was overflowing with spoils of war, he constructed a place of worship (Mosque) with a bio-cast door and 33 designer windows to the east. It has about 2250 grand arches. Many Quraan Slokas with beautiful designs of about 91000 sq. ft. Liger Kaman called Aurangzeb Gate.

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Jama Masjid

Almost 2250 – 2500 people can offer prayers in a 1,16,300 sq.ft area. Dome is beautifully painted and considered to be one of the finest of all in Bijapur.

_DSC6225The Central Mihrab (a semicircular niche in the wall of a mosque that indicates the Qibla i.e, the direction of the Kaaba in Mecca and hence the direction that Muslims should face when praying) on the western wall is inscribed with lines from the Holy Koran in gold and it consists of elaborate mural design in relief with bright colors.

There are 2,250 black squares on the floor. It is said that this mosque is one of the first mosques in India and holds a copy of Quran written in gold.

Again, on the way, saw Mehtar Mahal. It was also a mosque. Actually, every  250 mtrs, there is a masjid of that era. Some functional, some in dilapidated condition.

As per my observation, Mehtar Mahal has some Chalukyan architecture on outside.

Left for Sangeet Nari Mahal which was outside the city, further 7 kms, built in 16th century, comprises of a Palace building, Tank & high wall surrounding it. It was secluded area, maintained well, but hardly anyone visits it. Saw group of guys making tiktok videos. I couldnt find much data about this. Place comes alive during Navraspur Festival.

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Sangeet Nari Mahal

After going around for some time, left for Afzal Khan’s Tomb. It was also on outskirts along with Saath (60) Kabar. Navigating though map, reached Afzal Khan’s Tomb. But first, curiosity lied with Saath Kabar, which I had missed in my last trip to Bijapur alongwith some other. The story behind it gave a sense of eerie feeling.  Reached the wrong place, on a barren land. Came back to Afzal Khan’s Tomb, explored it and again.

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Afzal Khan’s Tomb

There was a local person, who guided to the Saath kabar. There was a road from Main road itself. Went back to the Main road, and finally reached the Saath Kabar. There were few workers working on the gates and renovating it. The graves were lined and some had deteriorated over time. Felt bad for the wives, who were killed by the overzealous Husband. There were 63 wives of Afzal Khan – the Army General of Adil Shah II, on learning from the Astrologer that he won’t return alive from the war against Chattrapati Shivaji Maharaj, he kills all his wives by pushing them in the well, two of them tried to run away, they were caught and killed. There are 63 graves lined acorss and the well is located near the graves.

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Saath (60) Kabar

Came back to the City. I had Fresh Fruit Juices like Water Melon, Coconuts though out day, thus keeping myself hydrated. Being January, it was bit pleasant. Then, went in search of Landa Kasab Tope. This is the largest cannon in Bujapur with diameter of almost 4.5 ft and more than 20 feet long with bore diameter of 1.75 ft. The cannon weighs 55 tonnes and is considered one of the largest forged medieval Cannons.

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The path to same, was through garbage. It was positioned on one of the Bastion, which is being used by locals as dumping ground. I felt bad at the condition of same. It was one of the biggest and largest Cannon I have ever seen, and lying there in pathetic condition screaming for attention. Almost 4.5 feet in diameter, I felt puny in front of this magnificent structure.

While going towards Mehtar Mahal, had seen some structures, Google map showed it as Caravan Serai Tombs, which was kept for last.

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Caravanserai Tombs

Reached the Caravanserai Tombs, again one part is functioning Mosque. Rounded up the trip with Chand Baudi.

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Chand Baudi

I did try to locate many Baudis that were mentioned, but found few, and locals hardly knew about them. Some Baudis were covered with garbage, some has been filled up and now houses have been built over it, as the population grew.I think, slowly over the years, even the few existing Baudis will also vanish, and after centuries later these will be found by some excavation team, hopefully.

Chand Baudi was also locked up with garbage strewn around. I managed to get a pic though.

Left for Railway Station at 5.00 pm. I got the Vijayapura-Mumbai express and reached by 5.00 am in the Morning in Mumbai.

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