The initial plan was to head to Badami/ Aihole/ Patadakkal, but I wanted to see the Gol Gumbaz, so we thought we could do a quick trip to Bijapur and then head to Badami..and just hop and skip and jump to the rest.
Not possible in one day, I realised too late. The roads are good, excellent stretch from Hospet to Bijapur, but the city itself is dusty and languishes in gray tones . The entire stretch is filled with patches of lovely sunflower fields, a real treat to see. I actually saw how the sunflower raises itself towards the sky and slowly bends down, at the end of the day.
Bijapur was done on a Tonga. Actually the plan was to just see the Gol Gumbaz and the Ibrahim Roza. But this very enterprising Tonga wallah said he would show us 5 important features, so I fell for the bait.
We clip -clopped through this dusty city, trying not to fall off the tonga, and also trying not to smile sheepishly as the Tonga criss-crossed, left to right and back again, causing quite a bit of nuisance value to other vehicles. He took us to 2 mosques (the Jod Gumbaz and the Jammi Masjid), not bothered that they were functional shrines of worship, and we were hardly prepared to enter these holy precincts. My son was very bothered with the way he was goading the poor horse, initially with his hands, and then in between he found himself a sturdy piece of stick.
Ibrahim Roza is considered a precursor to the Taj Mahal, and is a tomb/ mosque built for Ibrahim Adil Shah 11, started during his own life time.
Our guide (tonga wallah) tells us, that before this monument was completed, Ibrahim Adil Shah died, and the entire structure was constructed under the guidance of his wife.
Also he gave us a bit of history, of how Aurengazeb's tomb in Ahmed Nagar is a copy of this monument.
More than what he was telling in terms of facts and fiction, I was quite impressed with the earnestness with which he insisted on taking us around the city, stopping and explaining and really sharing his knowledge with us. It is his daily bread and butter, but these storytellers by default/ necessity are so sincere in their efforts to educate us, the visitors, that I am sure many of us don't even bother to verify the veracity of the statements they make!
Here is the Gol Gumbaz, a Tomb with a Dome. It's claim to fame is that it possess the second largest free standing dome in the world, in terms of diameter, just smaller than the St. Peter's at Rome.
Inside of the Tomb
The Whispering Gallery: everyone was shouting and screaming, and combined with my fear of heights, I hated it. But it is an imposing Gallery running right around the dome, where even a slight whisper gets amplified manifold.
We then trotted our way to see a huge Cannon, brought from Ahmed Nagar. it needed 9 elephants to drag it!
An aerial view of the city
Personally I was very disappointed to see how badly these monuments are being maintained. Though we see some beautifully landscaped garden in front of the Gumbaz, there is a sense of neglect and despair around these monuments.
Where is the story?
History says, bloody feuds were a norm here(obviously), and Ibrahim Adil Shah built the Gumbaz. But the dome kept falling off and would remain stable. A famous Pir, visiting Bijapur then suggested he change the angle of the Gumbaz such that its shadow does not fall on the Jammi Masjid. Once the restructuring was done, the Gumbaz stabilised, and did not fall off.
There came a time when Ibrahim's son started building a monument, his own Mausoleum (very morbid) but somehow these monarchs seemed to be quite resigned to their inevitable demise, and even glorified it I guess.It was to be 12 stories high and was to overshadow even the Gumbaz.
Hearing this blasphemous ambition of his son Ibrahim Adil Shah, had him executed, to uphold the promise he had made to retain the Masjid as the tallest standing structure, on which no shadow should fall.
I wish we had sped on to Badami and Pattadakkal.