Wednesday 24 October 2012

Bijapur and its monuments

It is called the Queen of the Deccan. Another name is Palmyra of the South. During the later part of the medieval age, it was the centre of art, architecture and literature. Hemmed in by the Mughals and on constant attacks from Shivaji, the kingdom collapsed when Aurangzeb personally led an attack on the city. Today, the city of Bijapur is a mere shadow of the great metropolis it once was.
Located about 575 kms from Bangalore, Bijapur today is a city of ruins. There are a number of palaces, mosques, tombs and other structures belonging to the Adil Shahi dynasty.
The history of the Adil Shahi dynasty commenced in 1489 when Yusuf Adil Shah, one of the Governors of the Bahamani Kingdom, broke away and established the Adil Shahi dynasty with Bijapur as its headquarters.
The Adil Shahi kingdom soon grew from strength to strength and for almost 200 years it became the showpiece of Muslim architecture and literature. The Adil Shahi kings played a vital role in the development of Urdu language. The Mushaira has its origin in Bijapur.
Almost all the kings who ruled over Bijapur were patrons of art and architecture and encouraged all  the arts. No wonder, the City is dominated by several ruins of the period.
Bijapur can be divided into three sections-the citadel, the fort and the city. Both the citadel and the fort are massively built and were once surrounded by a moat.
The fort, which is broken in many places has 106 bastions. The moat surrounds the entire fort and is between 30 feet to 40 feet deep. All the major monuments are within the fort except for a few, including the Ibrahim Roza.
Here is a list of some of the monuments:

Gol Gumbaz:

Arguably the most famous monument of Bijapur, it has the second largest dome in the world (The first is St.Peter’s Bascilica in the Vatican, Italy.) This is the tomb of Muhammad Adil Shah (1627-1657). The whispering gallery is awesome. If one whispers at a particular point, it can be heard at the other or opposite side. The whisper can be heard seven times. A romantic story is told about one of the mistresses of Muhammad Adil Shah. He had a beautiful mistress Ramba. When the Gol Gumbaz was completed, he took her up the gallery and showed her around. She was astounded and said she loved him all the more. “I will do anything you want.” She said to which Muhammad jocularly asked whether she would also die for him. “Cheerfully”, she replied and leapt to her death.      
Just before you enter the Gol Gumbaz is the Naqqar Khana (a hall for the trumpeters).Today, it houses a small but beautiful museum which exhibits artefacts from the Adil Shahi period.

Ibrahim Roza:

This is perhaps the most exquisite monument in Bijapur. It is believed to have been the inspiration for Shahajan for constructing the Taj Mahal. This is the tomb of Ibrahim Adil Shah 2 and his wife. This emperor also decided to build a city of music and named it Navraspur. It is near Torvi, a small village near Bijapur. Navraspur was never completed but there are ruins there such as the Sangeeth Mahal.


It is located off the Athani Road and it can be easily accessed after  visiting Ibrahim Rouza. Check out the Sangeeth Mahal, the hall of music, constructed by Ibrahim Adil Shah 2. A short distance away from Navraspur is Torvi which has an underground temple of  Narasimha.

Saat Khabar

This is perhaps the most poignant monument of Bijapur. One of the greatest generals of Bijapur, Afzal Khan, drowned all but one of  his 64 wives and had them buried here.  He did this as he was sure of death when he was asked by Emperor Ali Adil Shah 2 and the Queen Mother to kill Shivaji, the Maratha Emperor. Afzal killed his wives to preempt them from being taken into somebody’s else harem.
Mulk-e-Maidan Tope
It is one of the biggest cannons of the world and its name means “The Monarch of the Plains.” The cannon weighs 55 tons and is made of Panchaloha. It is cool even in the sweltering summer heat. This mammoth cannon is placed atop a specially made stone structure called Sherza Burz. It was cast in 1549 and it is believed to have played a major role in the Battle of Talikota. The British auctioned the cannon for Rs. 150 in 1854 but could not dismantle it. They, therefore, dropped the idea of  either breaking up the cannon or shipping it to Britain.

Uppali Burz

 Near the Mulk Maidan is the Uppali Burz. It is a tower atop which are several cannons. How the cannons came to be dragged on to the top of the circular tower is a mystery. It was built in 1584 by Hyder Khan and is 80 feet in height.

Bara Kaman   

This is an unfinished structure belonging to Ali Adil Shah. It was supposed to comprise of 12 arches and Ali wanted its shadow to fall on the Gol Gumbaz. He died before the structure could be completed and now there are only seven arches. The king lies buried here along with his wife and it is, therefore, called Ali Roza.  

Taj Baudi and Chanda Baudi are two major wells in the City. Ali Adil Shah (1557–1580) built Chand Baudi in memory of his wife Chand Bibi and Ibrahim Adil Shah the Taj Baudi in honour of Taj Sultana, his wife.

Asar Mahal:

Built by Muhammad Adil Shah around 1646, it was the hall go justice. It has a hair of  Prophet Mohammad. Women are not allowed here. Writings of the period have given us details of some of the most beautiful paintings which were painted on its walls. Aurangzeb, who was a devout Sunni, got the entire wall whitewashed. It was restored later. But some of the paintings are lost forever. It is also called the Adalat Mahal.
Gagan Mahal:

It is also called Sky Palace. It has an unfortunate history to tell. Sikander Adil Shah was the last Emperor of Adil Shahis. The Mughal emperor Aurangzeb personally led a campaign against Bijapur in 1686.Sikander surrendered after a long siege. He was brought before Aurangzeb here. He was bound in chains. As soon as he entered, he bowed to Aurangzeb who was seated on the Bijapur throne. Aurangzeb accepted the surrender and nominated Sikander as one of the officers in his army. He was subsequently imprisoned in Daulatabad where he died a lonely death.

Anand Mahal:

It was once the palace of kings. Today it houses Government offices. It is a two-storied building and it was constructed by Ibrahim Adil Shah 2.

Jumma Masjid:

This is near the Gol Gumbaz. It is the second largest mosque in India after the Jumma Masjid in Delhi. The Koran is engraved in gold here. This is the largest and oldest mosque of the Deccan. It was built by Ali Adil Shah 1.

Andu Masjid:

It probably was built for women of  royal family to offer prayers. It is a two-storied structure and it was constructed by Itbar Khan in 1608.

Aurangzeb Idgah:

This is one of the two buildings constructed by Aurangzeb after he defeated the Adil Shahis. It has a large enclosure.

Bukhati Masjid:

This building was constructed by Chand Bibi, wife of Ali Adil Shah. It was constructed for a moulvi from the Bukhari family.

Chini Mahal:

This was the durbar hall built by Yusuf Adil Shah, It is also called  Faroukh Mahal.


This is the citadel at the centre of the city. Yusuf Adil Shah chose it as the site for his fort.

Mehtar Mahal:

This is located south of the Jumma Masjid-Ark-killa road. It is an ornamental gate leading  to a mosque and garden. Its flat stone roof has been a construction puzzle for engineers.

Mecca mosque:

Though it is the smallest of the masjids, it is the most beautiful of all. It was constructed during the period of Ibrahim Adil Shah 2.

Jala Manzil:

This is in the middle of a dry reservoir which was constructed as a pleasure water body for the members of the royal family. It is near the Sat Manzil.

Landa Kasab Gun:

This gun lies is located in the centre of the southern fort of  Bijapur. It weighs about 46.5 tons, and there is another small gun on the same bastion.

Green Stone Sarchophagus:

This is a tomb a little away from the tomb of  Ali Adil Shah 1. There is no mention of  the name of the person buried in this building.

Malika Jahan Begam Mosque:

This is a beautiful structure built by Ibrahim Adil Shah 2 in honour of his wife Mallika Jahan Begam.

The mosque of Malik Sandal:

Makil Sandal was the architect of Bijapur. His tomb is a combination of Hindu-Muslim architecture.
Other monuments worth a visit are  Jod Gumbaz, Sat Manzil, Ain-ul-mulk’s tomb, the tomb of Ali Adil Shah 1, Ali Shahi Pir’s mosque and tomb, Amin Dargah, Chota Asar and the  Malik-Karim-ud-din mosque
Bijapur is today famous for the 85-foot tall statue of Shiva. It is said to be the second biggest statue of Shiva in India. It weighs over 1,500 tons.
The Parshwanath Basadi dedicated to the Jain Thirthankara Parshwanath is also a must see. The black stone idol of Parsavanath is about 3 feet high. A serpent with 1008 small hoods spread over the deity as umbrella is delicately carved.
Bijapur has the tombs of more than 300 Sufi saints. Some of the most revered and important Sufi saints are buried here. Check out the article on Sufi saints in Bijapur for more information.
Bijapur was established in a rainfed area where water was not available easily. The Adil Shahis constructed wells and tanks. These water bodies supplied water to the huge population. If there is time, please check out the water system.

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