Bijapur (now renamed as Vijapura), is a small city which is situated about 530 kilometers from Bangalore, the capital city of the Southern Indian state of Karnataka. Bijapur is famous for its beautiful monuments built in the Islamic architectural style during the reign of the Adil Shahi dynasty. Bijapur was also the home of Chand Bibi, the brave Muslim woman warrior who later moved to Ahmednagar and is famous for defending the city of Ahmednagar against the Mughal forces of Emperor Akbar in the sixteenth century. Gol Gumbaz, the Taj Mahal of south India, located in Bijapur, is the most popular heritage structure in Bijapur.
What is the Gol Gumbaz
Gol Gumbaz literally means ‘Circular Dome’. It is the mausoleum of Sultan Mohammed Adil Shah who once ruled the city of Bijapur. The mausoleum was built in the year 1656 by an architect named Yaqut who ostensibly hailed from a place called Dabul, also known as Dabhol, a small seaport town in Ratnagiri District, Maharashtra, India.
The Gol Gumbaz stands majestically, as an ode to the symmetry and elegance of Islamic architecture, it bears the hallmark of the Islamic style of architecture in its overall structure, the dome, the minarets and semi-circular doorways, etc. What really makes this structure unique is:
• The central dome of the Gol Gumbaz has a diameter of 44 meters, making it the second largest dome in the world after the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican. Another remarkable feature of the dome is that it stands proudly without the support of pillars!
• The inside of the mausoleum has a chamber which has an area of 1,700 Sq./meters, making it one of the biggest single chamber spaces in the world.
• Inside the mausoleum is a circular gallery, right below the tomb, this is known as the whispering gallery, the unique structure is built in such a way that a small whisper gets amplified and is carried across a distance of more than 40 meters in the vast dome and can be heard clearly. Another remarkable feature is that any sound made inside, is echoed back 7 to 10 times!
How to get to Bijapur
• You can travel by road or rail from Bangalore to Bijapur. It is at a distance of about 530 kilometers.
• You can also reach Bijapur from Mumbai by covering a distance of about 497 kilometers by road or rail.
• Belgaum at a distance of about 214 kilometers, is the nearest airport and is covered by a limited number of domestic flights.
Where to Stay in Bijapur
• Bijapur is a small city and if you are looking for really luxurious accommodation you may be disappointed, however some of the hotels that you may wish to consider are Hotel Pearl (near to Gol Gumbaz), Shushing Residency and Madhuvan International.
Where to Eat in Bijapur
• For food too, you will not have too many options. But I recommend you go for the local food. You can eat either in Madhuvan International, which is a favourite amongst locals or settle for the more well known brand, Kamath Restaurant.
Tips for a great experience in Gol Gumbaz
• The monument is open from 10 AM to 5 PM on all days expect Fridays, make sure to go there early and preferably on weekdays to avoid crowds and really enjoy your whispering gallery experience.
• The best season to visit is winter as it can get pretty hot from March to June. Nothing like it if you can get there between September to February.
Other Attractions in Bijapur
• Ibrahim Rauza
• Jumma Masjid
• Bara Kaman
• Mehtar Mahal
This article was originally published on Voyager site.
The magnificent dome of Gol Gumbaz, the whispering gallery and the beautiful architecture is definitely a must see for lovers of history and architecture.