Bijapur city is the district headquarters of Bijapur District of Karnataka state. Bijapur city is well known for its historical monuments of architectural importance built during the rule of the Adil Shahi dynasty. Bijapur is located 530 km northwest of Bangalore and about 550 km inland from Mumbai, and 384 km west of the city of Hyderabad.
The City of Victory’ is what Vijaypur, the olden name of Bijapur during the days of Chalukyas, means. Situated about 579km from the preset state capital Bengalooru, it was the capital of the Adilshahis between 1489 and 1586. Bijapur, one of the five sovereign states born after the fall of the Bamani Empire, was founded by Yusuf Adil Khan. And it is noted as one of the centres of Indo Saracenic Art suffused with extravagant architecture. This city has inside its safe walls some exciting elements such as the beautiful lakes and the wonderful gardens. It was also an important commercial centre in the past and was called the ‘Queen of Deccan’. There are magnificent edifices predominant of which is the ‘Gol Gumbaz’ which holds the tomb of Mohammad Adhil Shah the 7th of the Adilishahi rulers during whose reign the Islamic glory of the region reached its pinnacle. Besides, there is a number of monuments of Indo-Saracenic architecture.
Bijapur's urban population as per 2011 census is 3.26 lakhs, perhaps the 9th biggest city in Karnataka. Bijapur Municipal Corporation is the newest(9th) city corporation formed under the KMC act along with Shimoga(10th) (3.22 lakhs) and Tumkur (11th) (3.05 lakhs) city corporations as per 2011 census. The other existing city corporations in Karnataka state in descending order of population are Bengaluru, Hubli-Dharwad, Mysore, Gulbarga, Belgaum, Mangalore, Davangere and Bellary.
Administratively, Bijapur district comes under Belgaum division along with Bagalkote, Belgaum, Dharwad, Gadag, Haveri and Uttara Kannada (Karwar) districts. The city was established in the 10th-11th centuries by the Kalyani Chalukyas and was known as Vijayapura (City of victory). The city was passed to Yadavas after Chalukya's demise. The city came under the influence of the Khilji Sultanate in Delhi by the late 13th century. In 1347, the area was conquered by the Bahmani Sultanate of Gulbarga. By this time, the city was being referred as Vijapur or Bijapur. Bijapur, Karnataka. Ironically the name Beejpur literally means replete with seeds in Sanskrit, meaning Pomegranate.
In 1518, the Bahmani Sultanate split into five splinter states known as the Deccan sultanates, one of which was Bijapur, ruled by the kings of the Adil Shahi dynasty (1490–1686). The city of Bijapur owes much of its greatness to Yusuf Adil Shah, the founder of the independent state of Bijapur. The rule of this dynasty ended in 1686, when Bijapur was conquered during the reign of Mughal emperor Aurangzeb. In 1724 the Nizam of Hyderabad established his independence in the Deccan, and included Bijapur within his dominions. In 1760, the Nizam suffered a defeat by the Marathas, and ceded the region of Bijapur to the Maratha Peshwa. After the 1818 defeat of the Peshwa by the British in the Third Anglo-Maratha War, Bijapur passed into the hands of the British East India Company, and was assigned to the princely state Satara.
In 1848 the territory of Satara, along with Bijapur, was annexed to Britain's Bombay Presidency when the last ruler died without a male heir. The British carved a new district by the name Kaladagi. The district included present-day Bijapur and Bagalkot districts. Bijapur was made the administrative headquarters of the district in 1885, when the headquarters were moved from Bagalkot. After India's Independence in 1947, the district became part of Bombay state, and was reassigned to Mysore State, later Karnataka, in 1956.
Around the headquarters there are places of tourists’ interests. The Basaveswara at Basavanawadi is a holy structure of excellent Chalukyan architecture. The place also hosts other important monuments: ‘Badami’ a place of legendary importance was the archaic city of ‘Vatapi’ which is associated with the mythical sage ‘Agasthya’. This place was also the venue of some important historic events. There are tranquil temples here. A 7th century Jain Temple can also be seen.
Gol Gumbaz is situated on the east of the city this mammoth rotunda with a base diameter of 126ft and the biggest dome in India, came into existence in 1659. Four seven-storeyed minarets stand majestically around the capacious hall which measures 38m, 66m and 1704 sq m in circumference, height and area respectively. Circumference wise it is second only to St. Peters at the Vatican City, which is 42m. This grand edifice encapsulates the tomb of Mohammed Adil Shah, the 7th ruler of the dynasty and also that of his daughter, grandson, his lady-adviser Rambha and two of his wives after whom he was enamoured. The huge hall is surprisingly bereft of propping pillars.
The ‘Whispering Gallery’, a prime attraction of about 3m width is an astounding feature which has been so ingeniously designed that even a feeble whisper made here is amplified 10 times and echoed several times, however the intensity waning with each echo. This acoustically engineered gallery which is above a case of 100 steps also offers a spellbinding view of the town-scape.
Besides, there is also a mosque, a dharmasala and a quarter for servants.
Facing the grand Gol Gumbaz, Nagarkhana has an archaeological museum which houses some interesting artefacts. The tremor of the earthquake which hit the region in 1993 has left cracks in the dome of this structure.
This grand holy structure of 10,804 sq m built by Adil Shah I was later ameliorated by Aurangzeb with two minarets and a gateway. This mosque which can hold upto 2500 devotees in its various blocks stands out in its architecture. The array of astounding arches, the gorgeous terrace gardens, the placid lake ad a fountain present a picture of serene beauty.
Ibrahim Adil Shah II who ruled form 1580 to 1626 and his family are laid to rest here. There are beautiful gardens and tall minarets. The paintings and stone work also deserve mention. The dome is refulgent with the holy Quran inscribed on gold. The tomb of Ali Rouza is also situated near here. Ibrahim Rouza lies on the western part of the town.
This is a war memorial of Khan Mohammed, the general of the Adilsahi ruler who fought Aurangzeb, and his son Khawas Khan who were executed charged with treason as they aided in the victory of Aurangzeb, who later arised the tomb where the father and son were buried. This masjid inside which women are not allowed is situated near the bus terminus.
Situated in the heart of the city this grand edifice of high court was built by Mohammed Adil Shah in the year 1646. The vivacious frescoes depicting figurine of men and women wih beautiful blossoms and leaves are gradually losing lusture. It was here that the two sacred strands of the beard of Prophet Mohammed had been preserved until 1700 which was when they were taken to Hazratbal in Srinagar.
This ground on which stands the huge cannon with the massive dimensions of 1.5m circumference and 4.45m length, is situated near Asar-I-Sharif. A seething lion’s head forms the mouth of the long barrel of this cannon which was made out of an alloy of copper, iron and tin by Mohammed Bin Hasan Rumi of Trukey in 1549. About 10 elephants, 400 bulls and more than 100 men were used in transporting this 55 tonne weapon from Bijapur to Ahmednagar. And today, it is looked upon as a granter of wish as it is believed that by touching the cannon with a wish in mind one can get it realised.
The beautiful conference hall known as ‘Durbar Hall’ in this city fort was built by Adil Shah I in 1561. The fort has seven massive gates and a separate enclosure for royal women, called the Ananda Mahal. The tall watchtower or ‘Promod Mahal’ nearby is a grand seven-storeyed structure wherefrom the guards dept vigil, day in and day out. A ‘Lake Palace’ known as the ‘Jala Majil’ is situated in front of the fort. There is also a mosque which is patterned on, and hence named after the Mecca Mosque. A Jain shrine here which has been transformed into a mosque can also be seen. The ‘Mehtar Mahal’ is a masterpiece of the Indo-Saracenic architecture with splendid sculptures and captivating gardens.
A mausoleum which houses the tomb of Ali Adil Shah is situated near Gandhi Chowk. This mausoleum, though rich in architecture with a dozen arches bowing beautifully to add to the grandeur remains incomplete.
The observation tower built by Haridar Khan in 1585 rises to about 24m in height. A panorama of the townscape and its surroundings cab be had from the top of the tower to which there are as many as 70 steps. Olden arms and ammunitions are stored here.
The taluk headquarters which is also the birth place of Saint Basaveswara is about 43km from bijapur. The ancient Basaveswara Temple which in the archives is referred to as Sangamanatha Temple brandishes the grand architecture of the Chalukyas. The other important monuments here are the ‘Samadis’ or the ‘Holy Tombs’ of the saints Siddharameswara and Gurupadeswara of the Inchegeri School of Spiritual Pursuits.
This place of versatile importance, situated about 113km from Bijapur and 500km from Bengalooru was known as ‘Vathapi’ the place associated with the sage Agasthya of the mythical era. The legendary place is marked by a number of sacred and historic monuments. The Chalukyas made Badami their capital and constructed some important monuments. In 640, Narasingha Varman the Pallava King conquered the region. But again the Chalukya rule was restored by Vikramaditya in 653. Then a series of conquests placed the region under the rule of Kalchuris, Yadavas the Vijayanagara rulers, other Bijapur rulers and Marathas.
The tranquil cave temples carved out of mammoth rocks, as manyas 5 of them with one being a natural cave are located on the inspiring incline of a scenic hill. The first of these caves is the temple dedicated to ‘Lord Nataraja’ or Lord Siva dancing in divine ecstasy. The image of the Lord has 18 mighty and protecting hands. The lord portrays 81 ‘Natya Mudhras’ or ‘Stamps’ of dance. The splendid sculpture includes among others two icons of Lord Ganesa, the principal deity, one of Mahishasuramardhini, the Ardhanariswara the deity constituted on the right half by Lord Siva and on the left by His consort Goddess Parvathi. The second cave is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The Lord can be seen in the reposing posture and also in His various ‘Avatars’ or incarnations. There are also images of Lord Siva, Lord Brahma and the ‘Ashtadikpalakas’ or the presiding deities of the 8 directions. The third one which gives a hint of the Buddhist influence is a natural cave. The fourth cave, larger than the others, contains beautifully sculpted sacred images of Lord Siva and Lord Vishnu. The cave is also adorned with marvellous murals but these are gradually fading away. The last but certainly not the least of the caves, is a Jain shrine contemporary to the 7th century Ajantha Caves. The sculpture here is a replica of those at Ajanta.
A ‘Holy Tank’ called the ‘Agasthya Theertha’ situated at the foot of the hill tenders some good news to lepers. The sacred waters of this tank with amazing curative powers are believed to cure leprosy. There are also two wonderful temples dedicated to Lord Siva, known as Mahakutteswar and Maligatti Temples on the tank side. A little away is the ancient temple dedicated to ‘Lord Boothanatha’ one of the forms of Lord Siva. The sacred reliefs of Lord Ganesa, Lord Varaha, Lord Narasimha the reposing Lord Vishnu and Goddess Durga ad a host others mark the grandeur of the sculpture. The courtyard and the vestibule of the temple are replete with ethereal artwork.
The flight of rockcut stairs leading to the cave temples is about 1km from Badami bus terminus and 5km from the railway station.
This citadel houses Tipu’s cannon. A further trek up the hill from the cave temple leads to this massive fort.
This museum which houses several interesting archaeological specimen is situated on the north of the tank ‘Agasthya Theertham’. It remains closed on Fridays and can be visited on all other days between 9.00 and 17.00 hours.
This historic place which has seen the coronation of kings, situated on the banks of the river Malaprabha was also the second capital of Chalukyas. Pattadakal abounds in ancient temples. There are about 10 predominant temples and many more. All the temples are adorned with ornate carvings. The superb architecture and sculpture of the Chalukyas has been at one of its best in the temples here. The famous temple of Pattadakal is the one dedicated to Lord Siva. The Papanas Temple built in 680, with its grand architectureis identical to the Kailashof Ellora. Scenes from the great epics are depicted on the walls as also are other figurines and friezes. The Pillars are rife with artfully carved images of deities.
The ancient Virupaksha Temple built by queen Lok Mahadevi as an act of Thanks giving to the Lord after her victory over the Pallavas testifies the grandeur of the Dravidian architecture. The vast ceiling of the huge hall is propped up by 16mighty and ornate pillars, all monolithis which schematise the social setup of the olden times Events from the great epics can be seen on the Walls. A ‘Nandi’ the scared bull mount of Lord Siva can also be seen in front of the Sanctorum. This temple was formerly known s Lokeswar Temple.
The Mallikarjuna Temple built by queen Trailokya Mahadevi bears a close resemblance to the Virupaksha Temple. The sculptre and architecture are excellent. An image of Goddess Mahishasuramardini can also be seen here. The ceiling is engraved with the images of Lord Siva. His consort Goddess Parvathi and Goddess Gajalakshmi, a variation of Goddess Lakshmi the consort of Lord Vishnu. The holy ‘BhagavatGita’ is depicted through several puranic stories on the pillars.
The Sangamaeswara Temple is the most ancient of the group of temples her. It was built by the King Vijayaditya who ruled between 696 and 733 AD.
Pattadakal is situated about 29km from Badami on the way to Aihole.
This sacred place abounds in temples. About 125 ancient architectural temples dedicated to various deities are located in tight proximity to one another. These temples have been built over a span of about 250 years from 450 AD. There are wonderful rock cut caves, and a unique temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The exquisite artwork of this temple is a fusion of Hindu and Buddhist styles. The architecture and sculpture of these temples take the observer to new heights of sheer astonishment. There is also a museum which houses sculptural specimens, in front of the Durga Temple. It can be visited between 10.00 and 17.00 hrs.
Aihole ir ‘Ayyavvike’ according to the ancient stone inscriptions is situated at an altitude of 593m and 17, 46 and 129 km from Pattadakal, Badami and Bijapur respectively.