Don’t get perplexed when you catch sight of a dome in any direction you turn to, it’s just that you are in the city of domes, Vijayapura. The largest of course is the Gol Gumbaz which is an architectural masterpiece built around the same time as the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. Muhammed Adil Shah decided to build a grand mausoleum, the Gol Gumbaz, for himself in order to out-do his father Ibrahim Adil Shah II who built what is today known as Ibrahim Rauza located outside the walls of the city. Ibrahim Rauza is the most ornamental and aesthetic of all Adil Shahi mausoleums. Though started by Ibrahim Adil Shah, the monument was completed by his principal wife Taj Sultana who is also buried there.

ibrahim rauza
Ibrahim Rauza (Photo by Dr. Arun Varma Thampan)

Upon a high platform within a great square enclosure are two large buildings facing one another with a reservoir and fountain between them, and between this platform and the surrounding walls are green manicured lawns. The building on the east side of the platform is the tomb of Ibrahim Adil Shah II, his queen Taj Sultana, and four other members of his family. The walls and ceilings of the tomb are completely covered with calligraphy and floral motifs. The perforated windows are beautiful. One of those which amazed me is filled with interlaced Arabic writing, and the perforations are the blank spaces in and around the letters. Opposite the tomb is a simple elegant mosque with symmetric arches supporting the structure.

Both these mausoleums are popular with the tourists and are well maintained. But it was Ali Adil Shah I, Ibrahim II’s father, who started the tradition of building royal mausoleums in Bijapur. His tomb, known as Ali-I-Rauza, is a modest square structure sans any dome. There are five cenotaphs housed within the chamber surrounded by an arched corridor.  Prince Daulat Afza, the grandson of Aurangzeb is buried on a platform north of this tomb within the same compound. Finding this monument was a wild goose chase as no one knew the monument by its name and we happened to find it only after a local recognised it from a photo I had of the monument!

Ali-I-Rauza. The mausoleum of the first Adil Shahi ruler lies in obscurity.

The last royal funerary monument built in Bijapur is that of Ali Adil Shah II which is unfinished. Under him the glory of Bijapur began its decline and the Mughals made their way in. The tomb is called Bara Kaman colloquially as it has twelve arches both horizontally and vertically. Bara Kaman has the tombs of Ali Adil Shah, his wife Chand Bibi and maybe some other women in his zenana. Unfortunately it was never completed and no one knows why.

ali-II-rauza, barakaman
The incomplete mausoleum of Ali-II locally known as Bara Kaman

Another interesting mausoleum apart from the royal ones is the Jod Gumbaz (Twin Domes). I didn’t find any information about the monument and whose remains it houses save one source according to which the octagonal building on the south is the resting place of a traitor Khan Muhammad and of his son Khavas Khan, Vizier to Sikandar Adil Shah (the last Adil Shah). Khan Muhammad who was in command of the troops in the field was bought over by the commander of the imperial forces of Aurangzeb. He remained inactive at a critical juncture when he had the enemy entirely in his hands thereby leading to the defeat of the Adil Shahis. He was assassinated on his way back to the city but the victor Aurangzeb ordered a mausoleum to be built for him. The larger square tomb is that of Abdul Razaq Qadir, Khawas Khan’s religious tutor. To the west of these two tombs is a third which is said to be that of Siddi Rehan. Siddi Rehan was an officer who distinguished himself during the reign of Mohammad Adil Shah. There is also a mosque attached to the mausoleum. The cenotaph of Abdul Razaq is worshipped by locals who believe him to be saint. Women aren’t allowed inside the vaults containing the graves and the halls beneath the domes are locked so I could only admire the external beauty of the monuments. Sadly no information about the monument is put up by the authority in-charge and the locals too are totally unaware of the history of the place.

jod gumbaz
Jod Gumbaz is more of a pilgrim centre today

The last of the large mausoleums I visited is that of Ein-ul-Mulk who was an officer of Ibrahim Adil Shah I but rebelled against him and was killed. His mausoleum is a few kilometres east of the Gol Gumbaz outside the city walls but it is surprising why a rebel was allowed such an honour. The locals call it mini Gol Gumbaz as it served as the prototype for the Gol Gumbaz. In this dome too the acoustics are noteworthy but obviously not as brilliant as that of Gol Gumbaz.  The cenotaphs have been destroyed and the guard told us that this monument was used for anti-social activities till a few years ago when a compound wall was built and a guard posted. There is a mosque nearby and a couple of ruined monuments further away. This monument too is largely unknown even to the locals. It is visible from atop the Gol Gumbaz and you can ask someone at the ASI office there for directions.

tomb of ein-ul-mulk
The mausoleum of Ein-ul-Mulk served as an inspiration for the architects of the Gol Gumbaz

Bijapur attracted numerous Sufi saints from the North and the entire city is dotted with dargahs of these saints and seers. Usually they are simple open structures with a dome on top. Some of the dome capped mausoleums house the cenotaphs of nobles and military generals too though their names have faded into oblivion. Grand funerary monuments are typical of the Rajputs and Mughals but those of the Adil Shahis are no less in their splendour and style. The next time you are in Bijapur walk off the well-trodden path and explore some of the lesser known mausoleums and get a taste of Indo-Persian-Ottoman architecture.

Royal Mausoleums in Bijapur

  • Ali – I – Rauza
  • Ibrahim Rauza
  • Gol Gumbaz
  • Bara Kaman/ Ali – I – Rauza
  • Jahan Begum’s Tomb, Ainapur

Other Mausoleums

  • Jod Gumbaz
  • Ein-Ul-Mulk’s Tomb

Other interesting monuments in Bijapur

  • Jami Masjid – largest mosque in Bijapur
  • Asar Mahal – houses relics of Prophet Muhammad
  • Mehtar/ Behtar Mahal – an architectural marvel
  • Karimuddin’s Mosque – earliest mosque in Bijapur
  • Mecca Masjid
  • Narsoba Temple – ancient temple
  • All Saint’s Church – A colonial addition
  • Sahastraphani Parshwanath Temple, Mahendragiri – ancient Jain temple
  • Siddeshwara Temple
  • Sharza Burj/ Malik-e-Maidan – one of the largest canons
  • Haidar Burj/ Upli Burj – a watchtower housing a couple of canons
  • Gagan Mahal – former durbar hall
  • Jal Mahal
  • Sangeet Mahal, Nauraspur
  • Ainapur – Jahan Begum’s Tomb and palace
  • Taj Baoli – stepped well
  • Chand Baoli – stepped well

Day trip from Bijapur

Bijapur – Basavana Bagewadi (Birth Place of Basavanna) – Hanuman Temple, Yalagur – Kudala Sangama – Almatti Dam – Bijapur

This article was published in Spectrum, Deccan Herald on 21st March, 2017. DH Article


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