Bijapur, the ‘city of domes and minarets’ was the capital of Adil Shahi’s and is known as a ‘treasure house of Islamic architecture’. The Chalukyan rulers of Kalyana originally founded Vijayapura or the ‘city of victory’, which came under the reigns of Bahmani rulers of Bidar in 1347. Yusuf Adil Shah, the Governor of Bijapur declared independence in 1481 and established the Adil Shahi dynasty. The Adil Shahi’s were great builder and Bijapur became a centre for architectural activity. The town has about 50 mosques, 20 tombs and numerous palaces and it is one of the ‘classic tourism’ destinations of India.
Gol Gumbaz dominates the landscape for miles around in this historic city of Bijapur situated in the northern part of the Karnataka. It is bounded by Maharashtra on north, Gulbarga in east, Dharwad on south and Raichur on the west. It was once the capital of the Adil Shahi kings (1489-1686). The district that the formed a part of earlier Bombay Province was integrated with the Mysore State in 1956.
The town has an architectural character strongly influenced by the Adil Shahi dynasty of Turkish origin that swayed until 1686. The town is dotted with mosques, mausoleums, palaces, fortifications, watchtowers and strong gateways.
The region is renowned for its vineyards and the grapes are exported as well as extensively used in making good quality wine. Bijapur can be a base for the visit to Aihole (109km), Pattadakal(120km), and Badami.
The walled city of Bijapur, in the far north of Karnataka, is often referred to as the “Agra of the South” because of its profusion of Muslim architecture. First founded during the reign of the Chalukyan dynasty, between the 10th and 11th centuries, Bijapur passed into Muslim rule and later into the hands of the Bahamani kings. When these rulers fell into decline, the city was taken over by its governor, Yusuf Adil Khan, the founder of the Adil Shahi dynasty, who established rule over the Deccan during the 16th and 17th centuries, with Bijapur as their capital. Muslim mausoleums, mosques, palaces, pavilions, and burkha-clad women will remind you that this is a city unlike any other in Karnataka. Head to the very helpful local tourism office to hire a guide and get assistance with sightseeing. Monuments are open from sunrise to sunset and entry is free except where listed. Within the fortified Citadel in the city center lie the remains of royal structures, including Anand Mahal (pleasure palace), and Saat Manzil. Outside Saat Manzil is beautiful Jal Mandir, or water pavilion, now dry, so you can admire its carvings and porticos. Not far away (near the tourist office) is incomplete Bara Kaman (“12 Arches”), the roofless tomb of Ali Adil Shah II—a wonderful piece of architecture comprising 12 arches—surrounded by a garden. Outside the Citadel’s walls, near the edge of the city, is Ibrahim Rouza , the gorgeously proportioned and heavily decorated mausoleum of Ibrahim Adil Shah II and his wife, Taj Sultana (admission $2; daily 6am–6pm; leave shoes outside). Ignore the garbage dump near the entrance and admire what is considered the most beautiful Muslim structure in the Deccan, featuring richly engraved walls and inscribed ornamental stone windows. Move on to Gol Gumbaz , the world’s secondlargest dome (after St. Peter’s in Rome), atop the mausoleum of 17th-century sultan Muhammad Adil Shah (Mahatma Gandhi Rd.; admission $5, video cameras 50¢; leave shoes outside; daily 6am–6pm). Renowned for its remarkable engineering and stereophonic acoustics, the Gol Gumbaz can get noisy as visitors test the echo effect created by the massive dome—multiple distinct echoes are said to be produced for each sound uttered in the whispering gallery upstairs. Most visitors don’t bother to whisper, however, which may leave you with an experience akin to an auditory hallucination. As is the case with the Taj, try to arrive as soon as the gates open for the most atmospheric visit. It’s worth scaling the 115 steps to reach the dome’s terrace for the excellent views of the formal gardens and tombs. Jami Masjid (free admission; daily 6am–6pm), close to Gol Gumbaz, is the city’s other major attraction. Also incomplete, this is the largest mosque in the region, dating back to A.D. 1576, when Ali Adil Shah I reigned. Consisting of a large dome and gorgeous white arcaded bays, this impressive mosque is spread over some 10,000 sq. m (107,639 sq. ft.).
Part of the citadel, it served the two fold purpose of a royal residence and durbar hall. It was named so as it was thought to be touching the sky (Gagan). It was here that the queen Chand Bibi sat for many years at the helm of the state. The main feature of this palace is its great central arch spanning over 21m.
Other architectural sites in Bijapur include richly ornated Mehtar Mahal, serves as gateway leading to the mosque and a garden; Jala Manzil, the water pavilion - an architectural gem with beautiful carvings of rosettes and pendants on its exterior, was part of the pleasure gardens of the Adil Shah. Not too far from Gagan Mahal is the Bara Kaman the incomplete Mausoleum of Ali Adil Shah II with its magnificent lines of 12 arches. commenced in 1656, it was intended to rival the Gol Gumbaz; Upli Buruj (lofty tower), built around 1584, is a 24m high tower with its hefty cannons and water tanks, that formed part of the military defense of Bijapur. One can climb up the external flight of stairs to set a good view of the city and the Taj Bavadi - a large 70m well, 16m deep built by Ibrahim Adil Shah in honor of his wife. Inside the archway a broad landing juts out from which flights of stone steps lead down to the water's edge; Asar Mahal used as a court house and a tank in front; Jod Gumbaz the twin tomb where the General Khan Mohammed and his spiritual adviser Abul Razzaq are buried.
The Narasimha Temple is where Ibrahim Adil Shah II is said to offer prayers. A big attraction in Bijapur is Arethina Bhavi inside which there is a shine of Mahadeva built in 1708. The Siddheswara Temple has a 10m tall monolithic pillar built in 1589, in its front. It is site of a famous temple festival in January-February.
It was built in 1626 – 1656, by Mohammed Adil Shah, as a mausoleum for himself and is recognised as “one of the finest structural triumphs of the Indian builders”. The four minarets have four stair cases, leading to the top of the enormous dome, measuring 44m in diameter. It is regarded as the second largest dome in the world, unsupported by pillar. A circular ‘Whispering Gallery’ underneath is famous for it amazing acoustical system, where a faintest whisper is echoed 9 times. On a raised platform in the centre of the hall are the replica tombs of Mohammed Adil Shah and his family, while the actual tombs lie in a crypt below. The gallery around the dome affords a fine view of the city. To the east of the city near the railway station, the second largest dome in the world caps it. This wonderful mausoleum of Mohammed Adil Shah is the most famous structure of Bijapur. Phone: 08352-250725; sunrise to sunset.
The huge fort bilt by Yusf Adil Shah-I, has relics of palaces and pleasure gardens. Gangan Mahal was built in 1561, as a royal residence as well as Durbar Hall. The Sat Manzil, the seven storeyed palace of Mohammed Adil Shah and the Jala Manzil are noted for its architectural beauty. Another attraction is the Malik-i-Maidan, a 55 tonne, 4.3 m long cannon of Adil Shahi’s, which is perhaps one of thelargest bell metal guns in the world. Bara Baman, located nearby is the incomplete mausoleum of Ali-II and is noted for its graceful arches.
It is a massive construction about 10km in length and surrounded by a wide moat (12-15m). Strengthened by 106 bastions and guarded by five gates once it contained the palaces and pleasure gardens, but in ruins.
This lares and oldest mosque of Bijapur was built by Adil Shah-I between 1557 and 1686. The finely proportioned, rectangular mosque is known for its graceful minarets and bulbous domes. Aurangzeb added a grand entrance and painted the floor with 2,250 musullahs (space for prayers). But the jewel of Adil Shah architecture is the Jamia Masjid a well proportioned rectangular building with its graceful arches, onion shaped dome and arcaded court, set in grounds that are a perfect square. It has room for 2250 worshippers, defined by black borders, each large enough for one worshipper. What makes it even more special is the priceless Koram written in letter of gold, which is carefully preserved here. Timing: 09.00 to 17.30.
Ibrahim Rauza (2km)
This exquisite group of buildings lie on the western outskirts of the city. The palatial mosque and tomb with delicate minarets at each corner is regarded as one of the most beautifully proportioned Islamic structures in the country and an inspiration for the famous Taj Mahal. Said to have inspired the Taj Mahal in Agra, this palatial 17-century tomb is rated as one of themost beautifully proportioned Islamic monuments in India. Built by Ibrahim Adil Shah II for his wife, Taj Sultana, the Ibrahim Roza contains the twin edifices of the sepulcher of Ibrahim Adil Shah and a mosque facing each other.
It has slender minarets (24m high) at each corners, fine stone filigree and decorative panels with lotus, wheel and cross patterns. Ibrahim Adil Shah is buried here with his queen, daughter, sons and mother. The mosque is also a beautiful edifice with five grand arches, ornamented by carved medallions and hanging stone chains. A lofty tower ornamented with four graceful minarets approachable by a path through well-laid gardens fames the two buildings. Timing: 06.00 to 18.00.
Asar Mahal (5km)
It was built in 1646 by Muhammad Adil Shah as “Hall of Justice’ and has some holy relics of Prophet Mohammed, Other interesting monuments are the Mehtar Mahal, Jod Gumbaz, Afzal Khan’s Cenotaph, Anand Mahal, Ark-Killa, etc.
One of the largest medieval cannons in India, Malik-e-Maidan, perched on a platform was cast in 1549 for Adil Shah to subdue the empire of Vijayanagar. This gun metal cannon weighting 55 ton was bought to Bijapur from Ahmednagar thanks to the effort of 10 elephants, 400 oxen and hundreds of men. The head of the cannon is fashioned into the shape of a lion whose Jaws are trying to devour an elephant.
Jamkhandi is about 62km to southwest of Bijapur. Jamkhandi is once the capital of the former Marathas. The temple of Kadapatti Basaveshwara and an old temple of Lord Jambeshwara are widely respected. There is a mosque of considerable antiquity in the town and the dargah (mosque) of Abubakar. The royal residence of its former rulers, Ramachandraprasad stands on a hillock to the west of the town.
It is about 30km west of Jamkhandi, the twin towns, Rabkavi and Banahatti. These towns are famous centers of handloom weaving and have some interesting temples. About 10km from Banahatti is Gombigudda (Hill of Pictures) having prehistoric linear drawings and figures cut on the slopes of the hill.
Mudhol near Jamkhandi is the birthplace of the celebrated Kannada poet, Ranna, and there are remnants of a hermitage ascribed to him. It is also famous for its temple of Shiva and Kamaleshwar, the Brahmagaddi Veershaiva Math, and the Mahavir Basadi.
Other places of interest around Bijapur include the Almatti Dam, 60km south across the river ghatbrabha. 61 south of Bijapur is Bilagi known for the interesting sites of Aretthina Bhavi, the Siddeshwara Temple, and the tomb of Hazrat Hassan. Kudalasanama, 85km south of Bijapur has an 11-century Chalukyan style temple and the underwater memorial of social reformer Basaveshwar.
Bagalkot is about 90km south of Bijapur, Bagalkot was once the heart of Badami Chalukyas (540-753). The district is known for the wonderful monuments of Badami, Pattakadal and Aihole and important centers of pilgrimage including Banashankari and Mahakuta. The district is also famous for its handloom weaving especially saris and blouse pieces from Guledgad.
The town of Bagalkot is situated on the banks of river Ghataprabha. It is noted for the temples of Shri Bhawani, Panduranga, Kotthalesha, Raghavendraswamy, the Motagi Basaveshwara, and the Jain Basadi of Lord Parshwanath.
Bagalkot is approachable from the railhead of Gadag, which is 70km away. It is linked by road to Bangalore and Hubli. The nearest airport is Dabolim (in Goa), 70km away.
Bijapur Distance Guide