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Bijapur Travel Guide

Discussion in 'Destination Guides' started by Debapriya Deb, Sep 8, 2015.

  1. Debapriya Deb

    Debapriya Deb Active Member

    Bijapur, recently rechristened as Vijayapura, is a town located in the Northern part of Karnataka which is famous for its rich historical heritage. It was the Kingdom of the Adil Shahi dynasty between the 15th and 17th century. The ancint city of Bijapur, surrounded by fortified walls, has a distinct old-world charm. With its legacy of historical monuments, including the world famous Gol Gumbaz (Rounded Dome), Gagan Mahal and Sat Manzil, a tour to Bijapur is no less than a 'dream-come-true' experience for the Indian history enthusiasts.

    Did You Know? When it was constructed in 1659, the Gol Gumbaz in Bijapur (44.0 m) was the largest dome in Asia and the second largest dome in the world after the Saint Peter’s Basalica in Rome.

    A Brief History of Bijapur:

    Bijapur was not built in a day and one can’t appreciate the true beauty of the place, unless you know about its history. So here's a brief introduction to Bijapur's illustrious past.

    The foundations of this city were laid during the Chalukyan dynasty between the 10th and 11th century. The city was initially named as Vijayapura (or the City of Victory) from which the present name Bijapur evolved when it came under the Muslim influence in the 13th century.

    The first Muslim ruler of Bijapur is Allaudin Khilji, the Sultan of Delhi. He ruled the Bijapur Kingdom till 1347 when the Bahamani Kings of Bidar took control of the empire. Bijapur was under the influence of Bahamani Kings till 1481 when Yusuf Adil Khan was appointed as the Governor of Bijapur by the then Bahamani Sultan Mohammed III.

    Yusuf Adil Khan took the advantage of the Bahamani power's steady decline and declared Bijapur as an independent state in 1489 - which marks the foundation of the Adil Shahi dynasty at Bijapur.

    From 1489 to 1686, the Adil Shahi dynasty ruled the Kingdom of Bijapur. During this period, Bijapur experienced a great burst of architectural activity and most of its noted monements were constructued during this era. The year 1686 marked the fall of great Adil Shahi dynasty as the Bijapur kingdom was occupied by the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb.

    Bijapur exhibits a unique blend of Persian Islamic architecture with traditional Indian craftsmenship. It has many important monuments and historical remnants - including minarets, domes and palaces - which bear the proofs of architectural brilliance of its regal past.

    How to Get There?

    By Road:

    Bijapur is well connected to all major cities within Karnataka via road network. Regular buses are available from Badami, Gulbarga, Bidar, Hubli and Bangalore. There are bus connectivity from across the state borders as well. Hyderabad, Mumbai, Pune and Aurangabad have overnight bus services to and from Bijapur.

    You can also hire a taxi or drive to Bijapur on your own vehicle.

    Hyderabad to Bijapur Route (364 KM via NH218): Hyderabad -> Chevella -> Pargi -> Mudhol -> Shahabad -> Sindagi -> Bijapur.

    Mumbai to Bijapur Route (496 KM via NH9): Mumbai -> Pune -> Diksal -> Madha -> Solapur -> Bijapur.

    Bangalore to Bijapur Route (524 KM via NH4 & NH13): Bangalore -> Tumkur -> Chitradurga -> Hospet -> Kushtagi -> Yelaguru -> Bijapur.

    By Train:

    Bijapur Railway station comes under South Central Railway and it is well connected to many cities in and around the state. There are daily train services from Bangalore, Mysore, Pune, Mumbai, Solapur, Hyderabad, Gulbarga and Hubli. Few important trains to Bijapur are -

    FromTrain NoTrain Name
    Bangalore16535Solapur Express
    Mysore17307Basava Express
    Hubli65906Hubli-Solapur Passenger
    Mumbai51029BB-BJP Fast Passenger
    Hyderabad57130HYD-BJP Passenger

    By Air:

    Belgaum is the nearest domestic airport to Bijapur. It is located at a distance of around 210 KM from Bijpur. On arrival at Belgaum airport, you can hire a taxi or avail the state-run KSRTC bus service to reach Bijapur town. International travellers can travel by air to Hyderabad International airport. From Hyderabad, you can either catch a train, bus or taxi to reach Bijapur.

    Getting Around Bijapur:

    Auto-rickshaws are the main mode of transport in and around the Bijapur town. You can also book a taxi/cab to take you to the notable tourist attractions. But don't forget to experience the tanga ride (horse-cart) - a must do activity when at Bijapur.

    Best Season to Travel to Bijapur:

    The Northern part of Karnataka is usually burning hot in summer days. If you are not comfortable with temperature in the range of 35-40 degree celsius, then refrain from planning your Bijapur trip between April and August. North-West monsoon arrives here by the end of August and hence the weather remains pleasant from October to February, - which is considered to be the ideal time to visit Bijapur.

    Tourist Attractions in Bijapur:

    Gol Gumbaz:

    Bijapur’s greatest attraction is unarguably the gigantic Gol Gumbaz - which is the the largest unsupported dome in the world. The dome is an engineering marvel in the sense that it does not have a single supporting pillar. It has a floor area of 1700 square meters, height of 51 meters and diameter of 37 meters. The thickness of its exterior wall is 3 meters. The highlight of Gol Gumbaz is its resonance effect. Even the slightest of sounds turns in to a series echos which can be heard from the opposite side of the dome. You can climb up the turret passages and can have a fabulous view of the town from the top of Gol Gumbaz.

    Constructed by Mohammed Adil Shah (1627 - 56) who was the 7th ruler of Adil Shahi dynasty, it took 20 long years for the completion of Gol Gumbaz. It is the mausoleum of the Sultan and his family. The commemorative plaque of Muhammad Adil Shah, his two wives, his mistress Rambha, his daughter and grandson are placed in this monument.

    Gol Gumbaz is open to the tourists from 6 AM to 6 PM everyday. The entry fee for Indian tourists is INR 5 only, while foreigners would need to shell out INR 100 to enter the premises.

    Ibrahim Rouza:

    Bijapur's second important historical interest is the Ibrahim Rouza which is the tomb of Ibrahim Adil Shah II & his family constructed in the year 1626. It is a square-shaped enclosure which houses the tomb with an adjacent mosque and a garden.

    More than 5 thousand craftsmen took nearly two decades to build this marvel. When you stand in front of this magnificient monument, you can't but wonder whether the world famous Taj Mahal drew its inspiration from Bijapur's Ibrahim Rouza.

    Tourists can access Ibrahim Rouza throughout the week from 6 AM to 6 PM. If you are a citizen of India, you will be charged INR 5 as the entry fee. The entry fee is priced at INR 100 for the foreign nationals.

    Burj-E-Sherz & Malik-e-Maidan:

    Burj-E-Sherz (Lion's Gate) is the platform especially built for installing the huge Malik-e-Maidan cannon. Malik-e-Maidan can literally be translated as the monarch of the battle field. Made of 'Panchaloha' or five metals and weighing 5500 Kilograms, this 4.5 meters long cannon was the largest cannon in India during the medieval era. It is still considered to be one of the largest bell-metal cannons in the world. The nozzle of this cannon has a unique design. It appears like a lion’s head with open jaws and an elephant being crushed to death between its teeth.

    This cannon helped Bijapur to get the better of the mighty Vijayanagar empire in the battle of Rakkasatangadi (Talikot) in 1565.

    Jumma Masjid:

    Jumma Masjid is a mosque built by Ali Adil Shah - I. It was the largest mosque in India at the time of its construction in 1576. The mosque has the Islamic holy book 'Kuran' inscribed in gold. The total area of the mosque is 10810 square meters and the huge prayer hall can contain up to 2250 individuals. The most beautiful feature of this building is its majestic dome - semi-circular in shape which resembles a budding flower. There's no entry fee for visiting the Jumma Masjid.

    Gagan Mahal:

    Constructed by Adil Shah I in the year 1561, the Gagan Mahal or 'Heavenly Palace' is a palace cum 'durbar' hall where the Sultan used to meet his visitors. The ground floor was the Durbar Hall, while the royal family used to reside on the first floor. There are three magnificent arches - the central one being the worthy of a special mention. The central arch of the Gagan Mahal is an imposing structure which is the largest arch in Bijapur both length-wise and width-wise. Although a major portion of the palace is now in ruins, the gigantic central structure still deserves a visit.

    Bara Kaman:

    This was supposed to be the tomb of Adil Shah II, which unfortunately remained unfinished due to his death. It is a roofless wonder with an array of 12 huge brown basalt stone arches spanning about 20 feet each. If it could have been completed, then it might have surpassed all other monuments in Bijapur by its sheer grace and size.

    Asar Mahal:

    This building was constructed in 1646 by the Sultan Mohammed Shah for using it as a court-yard or justice hall. The portico has impressive wooden columns of octagonal shape. It is believed to house two hairs from the beard of Prophet Mohammed called as the 'Asar-e-Sharief'. Considered as a holy place, you would need to take off your shoes when you enter the hall. Women are not allowed inside Asar Mahal due to Islamic religious reasons. The walls and ceiling of the hall are portrayed with beautiful landscapes and other designs.

    Sat Manjil:

    Sat Manzil or the seven-storeyed tower, is a pleasure pavilion located in front of the Gagan Mahal. It was built in 1583 during the reign of Ibrahim Adil Shah II. This structure is also in ruins and now only five floors exist, but you can still imagine what an imposing presence it had in front of the Sultan's citadel.

    Upali Buruj (Upli Burz):

    Located in close vicinity of the Malik E Maidan, this is a large 80 feet tall structure built in 1584. Two cannons are perched at the top of this tower. One can get a 360 degrees panoramic view of Bijapur town from this view point.

    Bijapur Castle:

    Bijapur Fort has a plethora of historical monuments built during the rule of Adil Shahi dynasty. The Bijapur Castle was built by Yusuf Adil Shah in 1565. The citadel was built at the centre of two concentric circles that acted as the bastions. It is a strongly fortified structure with ninety-six large bastions of various designs. There are 5 main gateways to get in to the citadel. It is surrounded by a moat of 50 feet (15 m) width - although mostly in ruins at the moment.

    Mehtar Mahal:

    Mehtar Mahal is a relatively smaller yet exquisite structure which bears the influence of the Indo-Saracenic style of architecture. Established in 1620, this is one of the most elegant structures in the Bijapur Fort. This palace is decorated with impressive fence work which resembles the splendors of Italian Quattrocento.

    A pathway from the Mehtar Mahal leads to the three-storey Mehtar mosque and a beautiful garden. The mosque is believed to be built by a 'Fakir' who used to work as a sweeper in the palace using the charity money gifted to him by the Sultan Ibrahim Adil Shah II. It has two slender minarets that are covered with delicately carved artwork in Hindu architectural style.

    Where to Stay?

    Bijapur has hotels aplenty that ranges right from modest guest houses to luxury cottages. Here are a few of the reliable staying options at Bijapur town.

    NoHotelLocationMinimum TariffContact
    1Hotel Pleasant StayNear Gol GumbazINR 750(+91) 98800 12225
    2KSTDC Hotel MayuraStation RoadINR 1000(+91) 83522 50401
    3Hotel Kanishka InternationalStation RoadINR 1250(+91) 83522 23788
    4Madhuvan HotelShivaji NagarINR 1500(+91) 83522 23878
    5Hotel PearlNear Gol GumbazINR 2000(+91) 83522 56002
    6Hotel Godavari InternationalShastri NagarINR 2500(+91) 83522 71305
    7Shashinag HotelBypass RoadINR 3500(+91) 83522 60344
    If you are planning for a trip to Bijapur in the coming winter, then be assured that you are making the right choice, at the right time. With its rich heritage, warm hospitality and uncanny old-age charm, a tour to Bijapur can potentially turn in to one helluva of an experience.

    And yeah, we will be eager to listen to your part of the story. So don't forget to share your Bijapur experience with the rest of the forum members.

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