"Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions" ~ Dalai Lama



Bijapur or the city of victory was the capital of the Adilshahi dynasty (1489 to 1686 A.D.). One among the confederacy of five states which saw the eclipse of Hindu rule in the south, the Bijapur kingdom played a significant role in the history of Karnataka by its contribution to art and architecture and by propagating Islam in the land.

The city abounds in mosques, mausoleums, palaces and fortifications. These art heritages of Karnataka appear starkly simple when compared to the exuberance of the Chalukyan and Hoysala architecture but are rated as some of the finest Islamic architecture in the world. The main attraction of the city is the well known Golgumbaz. Dominating the landscape of Bijapur is its hemispherical dome, believed to be the world's second largest. Unsupported by pillars, it stands testimony to a major engineering feat. Its acoustical qualities are so phenomenal that a whisper is echoed 12 times over and the slightest sound made by the rustle of a paper carries over a distance of 38 metres.

Under the dome lies the tomb of the 7th Adilshahi King Muhammed Adil Shah. His two wives, his mistress, his daughter and his grandson were also buried alongside.

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Adjoining the Gumbaz is a fine mosque. Nearby is the museum displaying Bijapur carpets.

It can be visited on any day of the week between sunrise and sunset. A nominal entrance fee is levied but on Fridays this is also exempt.


Ibrahim Rouza
Said to be the inspiration for Taj Mahal, this magnificent monument has the tomb of Ibahim Adil Shah II. Quranic verses are inscribed in gold on the royal tomb.

Mehtar Mahal
A gateway of a mosque, it has a flat roof stone supported by delicately carved stone trellis in Hindu style. The ornamentation of Mehtar Mahal is described "as equal, if not superior, to anything in Cairo".

Jami-E-Masjid a large building with a huge shallow dome, Asar Mahal with beautiful fresco paintings, Jal Manzil or the water pavilion, an old mosque formerly a Jain temple, are worth visiting to recall the original beauty of Bijapur.

Another interesting object to be seen is Malik-I-Maidan, the legendary cannon of the Adil-shahis. Weighing a solid 55 tons, it was cast in Ahmednagar in 1549 A.D. and sports a muzzle shaped into a lion's head with an elephant being crushed to death between the fangs.


Getting to Bijapur
Bijapur is linked by rail and road with all important cities in South India. It is at a distance of 613 kms from Bangalore via Hubli. Conducted tours and local transport is available for sightseeing in the city.

With Bijapur as the base, the following places can be visited.

Nestling between sandstone cliffs and overlooking the picturesque Agasthyathirtha lake (built in the 5th century A.D.) is the town of Badami, the ancient capital of the Western Chalukyas. Scooped out of these cliffs are the famous rock caves, four of them in a row. The first masterpiece among these is the 18 armed Nataraja (Shiva), portraying 81 dance poses in vigorous abandon. Two cave temples relate to Vishnu and the fourth one to Durga. Cave 4 is the only Jain temple in Badami, of Mahavira, the 24th Thirthankara. The natural cave is a Buddhist temple. Among the remarkable carvings are the `Flying Gandharvas' (Cave II) and the elaborate legend is also found in cave II.


Badami which witnessed the promotion of its art and architecture under the Kalyan Chalukyas, the Kalachuryas, the Yadavas of Deogiri, the Vijayanagar empire, the Adil Shahi dynasty and the Marathas has a wealth of inscriptions on Indian history. Among the monuments, the most beautiful ones are two Shiv temples, glorified as Bhuthanatha, God of souls. Set beside a natural pool, the tranquility of the temples is reflected in the moss green of the pool and exudes a freshness similar to the Pallava Shore temple at Mahabalipuram. Badami has a Pallava inscription (642 A.D.) installed during a brief spell of rule by Narasimhavarman.

The Archaeological museum at Badami has many interesting sculptures relating to the era among which is Lajja-Gauri a seated goddess with associations of a fertility cult.

How to reach Badami
Badami is on the Hubli-Sholapur rail route, 163 kms from Bijapur and 128 kms from Hubli. The nearest airport is at Belgaum, 150 kms away. The best season to visit Badami is between October and February.


A mere 30 kms away from Badami is Pattadakal, where, as the name suggests all the Chalukyan kings were crowned. Situated on the banks of the Malaprabha river, it became a centre for experimentation in southern ad northern styles of temple architecture conducted by the Chalukyas. Viewed across the river, the cluster of ten temples reflect the architect's aesthetic approach to space and form.

The Virupaksha temple, which is an amalgam of the Chalukyan and Pallava styles of architecture has some exceptionally beautiful sculptures. This is also called as the Lokeshwari temple, named after the queen of Vikramaditya II and built in 740 A.D. s it is believed to have been worked on by Pallava artists. A 2.6 m high Nandi in deep green stone faces the temple, which is still in use.

While the Papanatha temple is a fusion of southern and northern styles of architecture, the Galaganatha temple resembles the North Indian temples. The Mallikarjuna temple built in the Dravidian style has sculptures depicting the life of Krishna. An old Jain temple containing two stone elephants is also noteworthy.


Aihole is at a distance of about 20 kms from Pattadakal. It was the capital of the Chalukyans between the 4th and the 7th centuries and symbolises Hindu temple architecture in its formative years. Gandaragudi and Ladkhan are the earliest temples and the Durga temple, unusually built like a horse-shoe is another important structure in Aihole. The Durga temple complex has the first model of the intricate Hoysala pillars.

There are more than 70 structures in Aihole, most of them still in good condition. Kunta temple complex, Ravanaphadi Cave, Meguti temple (dedicated to Mahavira) and a Buddhist temple are a few among them.

(Information courtesy Karnataka Tourism Department)

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Editor: Romola Butalia       (c) India Travelogue. All rights reserved.