Top Places To See in Bijapur

  • Post by: Apoorva Shetty
  • Dec 27, 2020
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Top Places To See in Bijapur

Vijayapura, as it is now called formally, is a popular heritage city in northern Karnataka sharing borders with the state of Maharashtra. The region rose to prominence during the rule of its most famous sons - the Bijapur Sultanates (also called the Adil Shahi dynasty) that comprised of 9 rulers starting with Yusuf Ali Shah and ending with Sikandar Ali Shah. The Bijapur Sultanates belonged to the Shia Muslims branch of Islam. Bijapur remained their capital throughout their existence. All the monuments in the city were built during their reign mostly as forts, mosques and mausoleums. Kannada is the official spoken language in the city, however Urdu, Marathi and Hindi are widely spoken as well.

I must say I was pleasantly surprised at the architectural prowess of the designers and workers who created these monuments in Bijapur. The city itself is not very developed and one would not expect such intricate pieces of architecture hidden in its streets. There are a number of monuments to see in the city, but we’ve highlighted the top 4 to visit in Bijapur that really steal the show and are worth visiting. All 4 of them are along the same road and cover a total distance of 5 km.

1) Ibrahim Roza

 💳 ₹25 (Indians) ; ₹500 (Non-Indians)  | 🕑 1 hr 

The striking Ibrahim Roza in Vijayapura
The striking Ibrahim Roza captured from the entrance

The mosque at Ibrahim Roza
The mosque at Ibrahim Roza

What is it?

Ibrahim Roza consists of 2 main structures - A tomb on the left-hand side and a mosque on the right. Both are placed in perfect symmetry on a raised platform facing each other. The tomb was built by Ibrahim Adil Shah II (Bijapur Sultanates 6th ruler) for his queen Taj Sultana for her future burial - This is the reason it has attracted the title of “Taj Mahal of South India”. But such was the will of destiny that Ibrahim died before Taj and his body was buried at the center of the tomb. His queen Taj was buried right next to him as he would have wished, along with his mother, daughter and other family members. A total of 7 bodies are buried in the main tomb. Designed by a Persian architect under the guidance of Ibrahim, there are calligraphic quotes in Persian language throughout the walls. The doors & windows are very decorative and the carving details in every nook and corner is exemplary. A very serene and peaceful place - highly recommend visiting.

What to expect?

Elegant 15th century Indo Islamic inspired architectural style, it is said that the monuments when built were filled with precious stones and looked like a piece of jewelry! Today, the surface of both the tomb and the mosque has developed a black layer over time and one can only imagine the grandeur and beauty of it in its prime time. The interiors remain cool even when the temperatures outside are soaring. The complex has a huge beautiful garden with a lot of parrots visiting.

🕕 Timings
⌛ 9 am - 5 pm; Closed on Fridays

2) Gol Gumbuz

 💳 ₹25 (Indians) ; ₹500 (Non-Indians)  | 🕑 1.5 hrs 

Gol Gumaz in Bijapur
Gol Gumaz with its 4 dome-capped towers

What is it?

A mausoleum built for Mohammed Adil Shah, the 7th ruler of the Adil Shahi dynasty. “Gombadh” in Urdu means dome and thus Gol Gumbaz literally translates to the circular dome. Inside the crypt, as you enter on the ground floor is a raised platform at the center. A decorative frame covers a white slab below which is the actual grave.

The crypt where Mohammed Adil Shah was buried inside Gol Gumaz
The crypt inside Gol Gumaz where Mohammed Adil Shahi was buried
The tomb has 4 dome-capped octagonal towers, each seven floors high with steep staircases inside. Each floor has a platform with caged windows and tired visitors can make a quick pit-stop here before starting their next climb. The upper floor of each tower opens on to a round gallery which surrounds the dome.

The Jumma Masjid (also known as Gol Gumbaz Masjid) is a functional mosque located within the same enclosure, just beside the Gol Gumbaz.

Jumma Masjid beside Gol Gumbaz in Bijapur
Jumma Masjid beside Gol Gumbaz

What to expect?

The dome of Gol Gumbaz is an architectural marvel and is most famous for its echoing experience. Anything said while in the round gallery at the top floor of Gol Gumbaz, is echoed 12 times within the building however meek or loud the voice. You would hear a ton of people screaming and clapping in the gallery trying to get their voice echoed. The reverberations get so acoustic at times that they almost sound spooky.

There is a museum in front of the mausoleum that encapsulates the history, stories, significance and engineering behind Gol Gumbaz. Apart from the mosque and the museum, the enclosure also houses a Dharamshala and Nakkar Khana (drum house) along with very well maintained gardens.

🕕 Timings
⌛ Open all days 6am - 5pm

3) Shivagiri

 💳 Free  | 🕑 30 minutes 

The sitting Shiva statue in Shivagiri, Bijapur
Shiva statue in sitting posture at Shivagiri, Bijapur

What is it?

An 85 feet statue of Lord Shiva erected in the outskirts of Bijapur. Made of cement and metal it is counted among the largest statues of Shiva in India. It is placed inside a complex that has a large garden and 2 temples - one dedicated to Lord Shiva and the other dedicated to Lord Ganesha. Behind the temples stands this magnificent sculpture! The idol was inaugurated in 2006 on the occasion of Maha Shivaratri.

What to expect?

The sitting statue of Lord Shiva is a visual treat. Recommend visiting during evening times to visit the temples and also spend some quality time in the garden area. It seems as though Lord Shiva is overlooking the city and making sure all are protected. It reminded me of a similar Lord Shiva statue I’d seen in Murdeshwara in South Karnataka.

🕕 Timings
⌛ Open 24*7

4) Bara Kaman

 💳 Free  | 🕑 30 minutes 

Bara Kaman in Bijapur
Bara Kaman, Bijapur

What is it?

Bara Kaman, or twelve arches is the uncompleted mausoleum of Ali Adil Shah II, the 8th ruler of the Bijapur Sultanates. He wanted to build this tomb for himself and wanted this to be of unmatched architectural excellence. However, for reasons unknown he passed away before the construction could complete and the structure remained unfinished. His body along with all of his queens and daughters were buried in this site. Black bricked tall pillars on a raised platform forms the skeleton of the tomb. Some of these pillars are connected to form arches while some stand on their own. The tomb has no roof.

What to expect?

There are many theories as to why the mausoleum was left incomplete. One of the main ones is that Ali Adil Shah II’s father Mohammed Adil Shah did not want Bara Kaman to overshadow the Gol Gumbaz which was the mausoleum built for him and hence had him killed. One can only imagine what an absolute treasure it would have been, had it completed as per plan.

🕕 Timings
⌛ Open 24*7

Where to stay?

Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation (KSTDC) runs a huge lodging complex named Mayura Adil Shahi in the city and provides clean accommodation with helpful staff and a restaurant within the complex at reasonable rates! Definitely recommend.


📌 Use the below interactive map for directions:

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Santosada Prayana! :)
  • architecture and heritage
  • south india

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