Bijapur (ಬಿಜಾಪುರ) is a fine example of Islamic style of architecture and sculpture. The fort, the mosques, the mousoleums and the palaces constitute the major categories. Some Hindu temples have sprung up during the recent period. But they hardly hold any sculptural significance.

It is possible to give only a cursory account of the monuments of Bijapur in this introductory note. It should be supplemented by the bibliographical references that are provided. The fort of Bijapur ranks among the biggest forts of India . This elliptical fort has an external circumference of more than six miles and the walls are almost fifty feet thick. It stands 1820 ft tall and it is surrounded by a moat which is 30’-50’ deep. The wall is strengthened with ninety-six massive bastions of various designs. In addition to these there are ten more bastions at various gateways. There are five doors that give an entry in to the fort and they are called Mecca darvazaa, Shahpur darwazaa, Bahamani darwazaa, Alipur darwazaa and Managali darwazaa. It is said that no enemy has succeeded in breaching these during the entire history of this fort. Outside the walls are the remains of a vast city, most of it in ruins. However the innumerable tombs, mosques, palaces and other edifices, afford abundant evidence of the ancient splendour of the place. Gol Gumbaz is the most attractive monument in Bijapur. This was raised by Muhammaed Adil Shah (1627-56) as a tomb and monument for himself. It was built by the renowned architect Yaqub of Dabul. This is essentially a square measuring 205’ by 205’. It is surrounded by walls that are 198 feet in height and the Gumbaz stands atop the structure without any visible support. The hall surrounded by these walls occupies an area of 1833767 square feet. Gol Gumbaj is one of the biggest single chamber structures in the world. Each of these walls had three arches. The central dome of Gol Gumbaj does not rest on any pillar and is second to the dome of St Peters Basilica, Rome in size. The dome rests on the system of pendantive, which is a system of intersecting arches. It was not used anywhere else in India . The only other example of this kind was the Great Mosque of Cordoba. The eight high pointed arches bisect in the interior of the cube at regular intervals. The unique feature of the tomb is its acoustic quality. A sound echoes 11 times over and can be heard at a distance 37 km. At a height of 33.22 m from the floor of the hall, projects a 3.25 m wide gallery, all round the inner periphery of the dome. This gallery is called the ‘Whispering Gallery’, because even the finest whisper or sound made in it is heard from side to side and even a single loud clap is distinctly echoed over ten times.

The outer walls of the Gumbaz are decorated with the etchings and sculptures of pigeons, elephants, lotus petals and necklaces. A platform in the inner hall contains artificial tombs of the Muhammed Adil Shah and his relatives. The real tombs are located in the under ground.

‘Arakilla’ (The Citadel) is the inner fort located in the centre of the city. Anandamahal is a palace built in 1589 by Ibrahim Adil Shah-2 and Gaganamahal is one of the royal courts commisioned in 1561. Asar mahal is another important monument. Mecca masjid, Jami masjid, Yakut Dabuli masjid,and Ain Ul Mulk masjid are the famous mosques located in the various parts of the city. Barakaman is about five miles from Bijapur and it an unfinished masoleum. It has twelve arches. (Barah Kaman)

Malik E Maidan is a huge cannon made of bronze, weighing fifty five tons. Its exit is shaped like the mouth of a lion and its smooth surface consists of inscrptions in Arabic and Persian.

Ibrahim Roza is perhaps the most famous among the Islamic architectures in Karnataka. This contains the tomb of Ibrahim Adil Shah-2 along with the accompanying mosque. This structure built before the Tajmahal bears many resemblances to the great monument. Mehtar mahal is another small but elegant structure.

Bijapura contains many more monuments of historical and architectural interest. A more detailed account can be found in web sites dealing with Islamic architecture. Bijapura is also known for its Sufi saints who have provided commendable models of religious harmony and have created poetry of lasting merit.


References: 1. Sufis of Bijapur, 1300-1700: Social Roles of Sufis in Medieval India (Hardcover) by Richard M.Eaton, published by Princeton Univ Pr (January 1978)

2. The New Cambridge History of India : Architecture and Art of the Deccan Sultanates by George Michell.

3. ‘Karnatakada Sufigalu’ by Rahamath Tarikere, Kannada University , Hampi.

4. Indian Islamic Architecture: Forms and Typologies, Sites and Monuments J Burton , 2007 - Brill Academic Publishers.

5. A History of Karnataka: From Pre-history to Unification by P.B. Desai, 1970, Kannada Research Institute, Karnatak University .

6. Bijapur Web Site Main Page


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