From the top of Gol Gumbaz, we could see lots of domes jutting out all over the city. The security guide pointed out the main ones and kind of created a mental map of the city for us and we knew the general direction in which we need to go around for Bijapur Sightseeing.
Bijapur Tourist Places
Bara Kaman, Bijapur
We kept the Ibrahim Rauza for the next day, as we wanted to shoot it in the morning light. And decided to explore the rest of the city in the afternoon dome hopping. We started with Jama Masjid, which had the biggest dome after Gol Gumbaz. We reached there to discover just outside it two more domes belonging to the dargahs of two Sufi saints. Similarly, at Jod Gumbaz or the twin domes – we found a third one standing right next to them. Most of these domes stand on top of the tombs of some important people.
The most interesting of these tombs and domes is Bara Kaman – an incomplete structure of the tomb of one of the Adil Shah Sultans. Who wanted to build a structure similar to Gol Gumbaz but 12-stories high Gol Gumbaz is only 7-stories high. It could not be completed as it collapsed at some point in time during the construction. Leaving the bare arches and the graves with the sky as the roof on top of them. Unfinished tall and narrow arches with birds chirping in them create an interesting interplay against the sky.
Malik-e-Maidan has a war piece on display – the largest medieval cannon in the world. Covered in a green Patina, this metal wonder is lying proudly on top of a bastion of the fort wall. You can go around it and see the elephants carved on its sides and go on top to see the top view that reveals the lion carved on top of its mouth. At another bastion lies the place that used to hold this cannon with a provision to rotate it. This was a war trophy and sits on a platform specially built to showcase it. Imagine once this was auctioned for a mere Rs 150/-.
Opposite this Malik-e-maidan lies another interesting structure – an open bastion with a staircase going around it called Upri Burz. This one also showcases two very long cannons and gives a panoramic view of the city all around it.
An unusual piece of architecture we saw at a place called Mehtar Mahal – which is an ornate entrance to what is a rather plain-looking mosque. Our auto guy called it Bhangi Mahal – I am sure there is a genesis to this name but no one could explain that to me. The young men lounging inside said it is called Behtar or Behtareen Mahal. What is exclusive about this place is the ornate ceiling at the entrance, which looked like it belonged to a temple as it is flat and intricately carved.
There are some beautifully carved brackets with lions and horses on them. There is a jharokha-like window on top with three openings as if for women to look out.
Another similar but freestanding structure we discovered near a bus stand that seemed it was built to stand in the middle of a pond.
A fort gate stands not too far from the city bus stand. It has bastions flanked by pillars carved in very Chalukyan style. Not far from it is Panch Pandu as it is known in the city, though the board outside said Karim Uddin mosque. It is definitely a temple that was converted into a mosque at some point in time. There was scaffolding all over the place, but we could still admire some of the stonework and a few rotating pillars that have survived the ravages of time while dome hopping.
At various places, we stopped by to admire an arch or a gateway. The two water tanks – Taj Baodi and Chand Baodi were utter disappointments – filled with filth. Asar Mahal, Gagan Mahal, and many other big and small monuments are sprinkled across the city. If you take the bus stand as the center and just walk around randomly you will end up covering most of the dome hopping exercise.
The fort, city walls, and remains of many old structures peacefully co-exist with the modern-day Bijapur or Vijayapura. Some of them act as public places for the citizens, some attractions for the visitors, and some playgrounds for children but most importantly dome hopping finds that they are living, while you can see them moving towards their last days at a steady pace.
Dome-hopping most of the monuments requires you to climb up and down on uneven steep steps and it needs quite a bit of energy – Just be aware of that. Enjoy your dome hopping in this heritage city.
Of course, Gol Gumbaz & Ibrahim Rauza are the Tourist attractions in the city. I have written about them and here are the links, do read.
Recommend you to read the following Places to visit in Karnataka.