31 December, 2006

Gol Gumbaz - Bijapur

Gol Gumbaz is the tomb of Mohammad Adil Shah. Besides the tomb of Mohammad Adil Shah, it also has the tombs of his younger wife Arus Bibi, grandson, his mistress Rambha, his daughter and his senior wife. The mausoleum was constructed during Mohammad Adil Shah's rule (1626-56). The dome second only to Pantheon in Rome has a diameter of 124.5 ft.

Tombs of grandson of Mohammad Adil Shah, Mohammad's younger wife Arus-Bibi, the sultan himself, his mistress Rambha, his daugher and his senior wife

The 'whispering gallery' runs round the interior of the dome. A single clap is echoed 7 times. But the gallery is always filled with tourists who don't seem to understand the meaning of 'whisper'. They shout and hoot the whole day. If you have to really enjoy the whispering gallery and listen to the whispers you need to reach the dome quite early in the day. Fortunately our hotel was opposite to the Gumbaz and we reached the dome by about 6:30AM. But a few noisy tourists had beaten us to the top :(. They were already shouting when we went in. A man probably a guard, was playing a 'harmonium' in one corner of the gallery. Another guard lit a match stick in one corner of the dome and we heard its sound being echoed 7 times standing on the opposite end of the dome. He clapped his hands once and we heard its echo too.

We sat on the opposite sides of the dome on the stone benches and whispered to each other. But the noise of the crowd was quite deafening. We could barely hear the person sitting next to us. I walked up to one of the guards and requested him to quiten the group. He said he had already tried it and the noisy group had told him to mind his own business as they had paid the entry fee to shout and not whisper. The noisy crowd seemed to be from the state of Maharashtra as they were shouting in Marathi. It was high time someone told them to maintain silence.

I walked up to one man in the group and told him to keep quite. He probably was the sole person in the entire group who understood Kannada. He translated what I said to the others. It was quite evident that their ego was hurt (how could they listen to a woman reprimand?!) as they walked out of the dome. The man then spoke to me in Kannada and told me that they would wait outside for a few minutes and then return to the dome. We had to be satisified with the little time that we got to enjoy the whispering gallery.

We (J and myself) whispered to V and U who were seated on the stone bench on the opposite end of the dome. We heard them whisper the replies to our questions! WOW! It was definitely an architectural marvel!

The noisy crowd was back again in five minutes time :(. They continued doing the only thing that they probably were good at... shouting. That ended the few moments of peace and quite that we were enjoying. We climbed down the stairs and went to the chamber containing the tombs of the Royal family.

We read the description board of the gumbaz and as we were walking out, U sighted a flight of steps leading to the floor above. I remembered from my earlier visit to Gol Gumbaz that visitors were not allowed to climb these stairs. But now we didn't sight any board restricting us from doing so. Just as we climbed the stairs, we saw one of the guards signalling us to come down :(.

30 December, 2006

Basanta Vana - Bijapur

This 85 feet cement and steel idol at Rambapur village 3Kms from City of Bijapur on the Ukkali road was unveiled on Feb 26th 2006 -- the auspicious day of Shivarathri. Sculptors from Shimoga toiled for 13 months to create the idol based on the design provided by the civil engineers from Bangalore.


Second tallest idol of Shiva in India

Idol of ShivaLinga

A small idol of Shivalinga is installed beneath the big statue. "Shiva Charite" will also be inscribed in Kannada on the inner walls of the temple to help the devotees learn the mythological stories related to Lord Shiva.

Film producer Basantkumar Patil, the chairman of the T.K.Patil Banakatti Charitable trust has started a series of charitable work. An old age home "Basant Van" will accomodate 52 members initially and gradually enhance the capacity. Preference will be given to women. The trust will also sponsor education to meritorious students belonging the socially and economically backward classes and start free boarding for them. The trust has also decided to deposit 4.5 Crores of rupess in a bank and the interest earned on this money will be used for charity work.

There were a couple of camels in the garden around the temple and little kids were enjoying riding them. V wanted to sit on the grass in the garden and as usual :)... I didn't let him. I wanted us to return to the hotel as early as possible, have dinner and sleep well, so that we would not feel tired the next morning. We had to visit Gol Gumbaz the next morning and then continue to Gulbarga.

Jamma Masjid - Bijapur

Jumma Masjid

The mosque is known as "Jumma Masjid" because the Khutba is recited here on Jumma ie. Friday.

crescent proclaims the Adil Shahi's dynasty's Turkish origin

Notice the arabasque pattern in stucco on the second arch from left

This was the first mosque to be constructed in the Adil Shahi kingdom. Ali Adil Shah I began the construction in 1576 using the booty gained by defeating the Vijayanagar kingdom in the battle of Talikota fought at Rakkasatangadi. Ali Adil Shah was a Shiaite and the sect prefers not to decorate the place of worship. Hence the mosque wasn't decorated during his reign. Mohammad Adil Shah was a Sunni and probably the elaborate mural decorations near the mihrab were added during his reign. This is recorded in an inscription to the right of the Mihrab. Teakwood additions to the ceiling were also made during his reign. The mihrab was gilded and decorated in black and gold. It was then inscribed with Persian verses.
Six Persian inscriptions found in mihrab are translated as:

1. Put no trust in life; it is short

2. The passing world has no rest

3. The world pleases the senses

4. Life is the best of gifts, but it lasts not.

5. Malik Yaqub, a servant of the mosque and the slave of Sultan Muhammad finished the mosque

6. This gilding and ornament were done by order of Sultan Muhammad Adil Shah, A.H. 1045.

Mihrab in Jumma Masjid

It is said that the Raja of Satara built the side walls connecting the original mosque or main prayer hall to the eastern wall. By 1686AD the mosque was mostly completed.

The mosque can accommodate 4000 worshippers at a time. The floor was divided on the orders of Emperor Aurangzeb into 2250 rectangular inlays that mimic prayer rugs.

I was expecting one of the men in the mosque to walk up to us and inform us that "WOMEN" were not permitted in the prayer hall. But I was surprised that we women were allowed to walk upto the mihrab and offer our prayers. The priest pointed to two women and asked us if we were with them. We informed him we weren't. Then he pointed to the "hundi" (donation box) and told us to drop our offerings in it. He probably realised we weren't followers of Islam and so he ensured that we were informed about the donation box :). We dropped a few rupees in the box and sat in the courtyard for a while.

Persian (I guess) inscription on the wall near Mihrab

The prayer hall on the west side has a fa├žade of seven bays, each bay having an arched opening. The arches are equal in size, while the central arch is delineated through delicate arabesque patterns in stucco. The prayer hall is crowned by an elegant, well-proportioned dome. The large inner courtyard contains fountain and a reservoir. We sat here for a while chatting and also had a pretend :) fight with V :).

29 December, 2006

Mehtar Mahal - Bijapur

Mehtar MahalBeautifully decorated balcony

Munir Khan (I can't seem to recall the name of our Tongawallah. I guess that is what I overheard when V asked the name of the Tongawallah. But then I could be wrong.) took us to Mehtar Mahal and told us to see the monument from outside as this structure is a gateway to the mosque. As usual women might not be allowed to enter this place of worship.

The architectural design of the mahal indicate that it might have been built about 1620AD. But there is no documentation of the architect or the person who got this structure erected. There are a lot of interesting stories related to this monument.

Some say that a sweeper built this gateway with the handsome gift he received from the king Ibrahim Adil Shah-I.

According to another story, a fakir erected this monument with the charity money that he received from King Ibrahim Adil Shah II.

Yet another story credits Mehtra Gada for the construction.

The most interesting story and my personal favourite of them all is the one that seems to be linked to the first story I mentioned earler. It credits the palace sweeper for the construction of the mahal. Legend has it that muslim divines would wave a plate containing gold coins and an auspicious lamp, before the king's face every night and offer prayers for his safety and well-being. The divine men would then spread the gold coins around the king's cot. The palace sweeper collected these coins and used it to build the mosque and the Mehtra mahal leading to the mosque.

The ground floor entrance hall has a staicase that leads to a room above. The stone elephant and lion motif is breath-taking. Munir Khan told us to notice this bracket and probably I was the first one to notice it. I showed this to U and J while V walked over to the other side of the road to take a picture of the monument. Though he took this picture :) he said he couldn't see it clearly until he saw it in the photo :).


Percy Brown Observes :
The fineness of the workmanship is astonising, the stone being manipulated as it it were plastic clay. Either in the chiselling of the low relief pattern around the doorway or in the deep moulding of the coffered ceiling of the ground storey, all is executed with a loving are recalling that of the artists of the Italian Quottro-Cento. The entire structure seems to imply that not only the artisans themselves took a pride in the perfection of the handiwork, but they were encouraged to do so by their patrons who experienced an equal pleasure in seeing such exquisite forms grow under their hands.

28 December, 2006

Jod Gumbad - Bijapur

Built in the year 1687 Jod Gumbad is also known as "Abdul Razak Darga".
There are twin-domed memorial structures to two traitors, the father and son who helped the Moghul Aurangzeb defeat Sikandar, the young Adil Shahi ruler on the throne.
Text borrowed from http://www.bijapur.nic.in/tour.html I am not really sure why the people built a memorial to traitors. I haven't found further information on the internet as to how Aurangzeb succeeded in conquering the Adil Shahi capital either.

Now these structures have dargahs. They offered us a spoon full of holy water to drink in one of the dargahs. This ritual is very similar to the Hindu ritual that is observed in temples. We then went to the other dargah in the next gumbad and there were no priests or maulvis offering prayers but there were a few women seated outside the dargah. We enquired if we could go in and one of them told us that women aren't allowed to enter the dargah. So we waited outside for V, who had gone into the dargah.

Jod Gumbad

Dargah in Jod Gumbad

1 Dhanno aur 3 basanti? Bahut naa insaafi hain

This was probably the last of the monuments where we could take a picture in the tonga. We requested the tongawallah to position the tonga so that we could get the gumbad as the backdrop. With the tonga so positioned, we finally managed to take this picture seated in the tonga. How could we not remember the ever so famous Dhanno and Bansanti from Sholay while we were riding a tonga? U mentioned Dhanno and Basanti and we couldn't help but smile :).

27 December, 2006

Taj Bawdi - Bijapur

Bahamani empire broke-up into five kingdoms and Bijapur was one of them. Yousuf AdilShah was crowned the king of the new Adil Shahi kingdom. The new kingdom rose to great heights in the middle of the 16th C under Ali Adil Shah, the grandson of Yousuf AdilShah, who brought down the mighty Vijayanagar empire in 1565. Soon after he undertook ambitious building projects in his capital that included the public water supply system and the new Jami Masjid. There was a large influx of people into Bijapur after the fall of the Vijayanagar empire, and new settlements came up within the walled city raising the need for better infrastructure and providing water supply. Ibrahim Adil Shah followed his father's footsteps and built Taj Bawdi in 1620 in honour of his queen Taj Sultana.

Taj Bawdi

The well is 223 sq feet and 52 feet deep. The well has a 35 feet span majestic arch and is flanked by two octagonal towers. The eastern and western wings of the tower formed rest houses for the tired travellers. A small platform from the archway leads you to the well. Fligts of stairs on either sides of the platform lead you to the water. There is a narraw gallery on the inner side of the four walls covered by arch surfaces. The gallery passes through large rooms with lancet-shaped windows on all the three sides except the front. The rooms were meant for the use of travellers.

Travellers' rooms with lancet shaped windows

This well might have supplied water to the entire kingdom of Bijapur at one time. Little girls clinging to their mother while they filled water in their pots, little boys diving into the well from atop the platform, dames giggling while gossipping, young lads hanging around the well to catch a glimpse of the dames, tired travellers resting in the rooms beside the well... this probably was an everyday scene near the bawdi.

This tank was used until the Bhutnal tank was constructed in the 20th C after which it was used as a garbage dumping pit for decades. Recognising the historical importance of this tank, NSI declared it as a protected monument and spent about 8 lakh rupees in the latter part of 2005 to remove 10,000 tonnes of waste that was dumped in the well and filled it with water.

But exactly after a year, the tank seems to be slowly turning into a dumping pit. The stagnant water has turned green and it shall soon stink. The ignorant citizens of the city who do not realise the national importance of this monument are using the well to wash the clothes and dump garbage. There were a few women washing clothes when we visited this monument.

Time to Act
The Muslima Muttahida Council (MMC) "called to rebuild babri Masjid" on Dec 07 2006, 14 years after the incident. They hoisted black flags and observed "black day". They submitted a memorandum to the president and pressed the UP and the Union Govt. to rebuild the Babri Masjid. They can instead use the youth potential to maintain this historic monument in their own city.

Or will they wait until the bawdi is destroyed completely and then "call to rebuild the bawdi"?http://www.hindu.com/2006/12/07/stories/2006120707700300.htm

If you have been to Taj Bawdi in the recent past; have noticed the garbage and would like to complain then click here
and hope the garbage is cleared.

Ibrahim Rauza - Bijapur

Ibrahim Rauza entombs the mortal remains of Ibrahim Adil Shah II -- the greatest of the Adil Shahi rulers. After several years of deligent work, the mausoleum was completed in 1626 just in time for the departed soul to rest here till eternity. Eight years later the remains of his wife Taj Sultana were also burried here. An inscription on the north door reads
"Heaven stood astonished at this building when it's head rose as it were from the earth to another heaven. The garden of paradise has borrowed its beauty from this garden and every column in this building is graceful as a cyprus tree in the garden of purity. An angel from heaven told the date of building in words `This heart-gladdening building is the memorial of Taj Sultana."

The mausoleum has a mosque and four graceful minarates within a rectangular enclosure and can be accessed by a lofty entrance tower. The mausoleum designed by Malik Sandal was surrounded by a royal garden during the Shahi rule.

Mosque and Mausoleum

The mausoleum entombs the remains of Ibrahim Adil Shah II, his wife Taj Sultana, his mother Haji Badi Sahiba, his daughter and two sons. The tombs are placed at the centre of the inner chamber.

Overhanging decorative roof

Decorated entrance to inner chamber

Fergusson, the author of "Indian and Eastern Architecture" says:

"There is nothing in Hindustan which can be compared for grandeur of conception with the tomb of Muhammed nor any so elaborately rich in ornamental detail as the group of buildings comprised in the Ibrahim Rouza. The tombs of Humayun and Akbar will not bear comparision with them. Some will no doubt be inclined to think that the Taj Mahal at Agra is superior to anything in the south; but it is difficult to institute any very satisfactory comparison between it and them. The white marble of Taj, and its in-laying of precious stones, are most important adjuncts, but hardly legitimate circumstances to take into consideration in criticizing an architectural design. The situation too of the Taj on the banks of the Jumna river far surpasses that of any building at Bijapur, and it retains its gardens and its range of marble fountains, which every Rouza had, but only very few indeed now possess; all these add immensely to the charming effect of the Taj Mahal as it now stands, but must not be allowed to mislead us in judging of the advantages, the architect of the Gol Gumbaz would certainly have produced a far grander building, and the architect of Ibrahim Rouza one more picturesquely magnificent, either, in all probability, much more impressive than the pride of the northern capital."

V wanted to sit in the Mausoleum garden for a while before we continued to Taj Bawdi. But I had to remind everyone constantly that all the historic monuments in Bijapur closed at 6:00 PM and we had to visit a few more places. We rested on the cool stone in front of the mausoleum on which ASI had placed the description board of the monument. I fumbled in my backpack for a pencil to update the daily expenditure report and I felt the wrapper of a chocolate. It was the chocolate bar that Varsha had given me on her birthday a month ago. We savoured the "melted" chocolate and walked out of the mausoleum garden gate searching for our tonga. The tongawallah had suggested us to take a picture sitting in the tonga with the mausoleum as the backdrop. But he seemed to have forgotten; as he had already taken the tonga out of the mausoleum gate. We were disappointed that we couldn't take a picture :(.

Hazrat Khaja Ameenoddeen Ali Ala Shere Khuda Chishti - Bijapur

The kingdoms of the Bahamanis (1348-1527 C.E.) and the Adilshahis (1489-1686 C.E.) in the north of Karnataka and the interregnum of Hyder Ali and Tippu Sultan(1761-1799 C.E.) in Mysore were the main Islamic kingdoms in Karnataka.Bijapur thrived alongside the Mughal glory in the north. Masjids (mosques) big and small appeared in the newly conquered territories as if to match those built by the aesthete Mughals.


 Bijapur is a historically Muslim region. There are a large number of dargas in this little town. We first visited Hazrat Khaja Ammenoddeen Ali Ala Shere Khuda Chishti darga. Though women are allowed to go up to the darga doorstep, their entry into the room containing the tomb is barred.

There were a few women sitting outside the door with little children running around. We enquired if we could enter the darga and they said that women couldn't. So we sent V into the darga and waited outside for him to return.

When he came out of the room one of the women handed him her child and requested him to take the child in and seek the blessings of the saint. He took the baby in and held it on the tomb as per the woman's request and brought the baby out. The women were probably waiting for a man to come that way so that they could request him to take the baby in coz they left the dargah as soon as V handed the mother her child.

Strange are the religions' restrictions that doesn't allow women to go up to the tomb to seek the blessings of a saint! I fail to understand this discrimination between men and women. I am sure God created all creatures to be treated equally. Then why do men differentiate? This question will probably not be received well by most of the men but will they be able to provide a logical reasoning to this question?