Where spiritualism and history meet...

As I got off the auto-rickshaw, which I had engaged to see the attractions of Bijapur, I hesitantly approached one of the largest masjids in the state, the Jumma Masjid, where a religious function was in progress.

I stood at the entrance, not sure whether I could intrude into the solemn proceedings. As people got up from the ceremony, I requested a person, who was coming out, whether I could take some pictures. “Sure, except that place,” he pointed smilingly to me indicating that the holy man was still sitting and speaking to a few persons near the pulpit.

The masjid, belonging to the rule of Adil Shah I, has a huge area of about 10,810 sq meters and a height of about 37 meters, with a seating capacity of about 2,250 people. It was built in 1578 AD to commemorate Adil Shah’s victory in the battle of Talikota and was the first to be built in Bijapur. Later on, Aurangzeb ordered some alterations. It is one of the few ancient masjids, still used for prayers.

The masjid is also known by other names such as Jamia Masjid and Jama Masjid. It has in its possession a Koran written in gold letters kept at the far-end of the entrance where learned scholars lead prayers. It has a huge central dome and 33 onion-shaped domes embellishing the top. What struck me was the symmetrical arches, 12 in number, in the interior of the hall that added beauty to the impressive prayer hall. In front is a big open courtyard. The flooring is attractive too.

Bijapur is about 580 km from Bangalore and is well connected by rail and road. The masjid located within the city is easily accessible on foot. However, engaging an auto rickshaw or taxi is useful to see the other attractions in Bijapur.

D B N Murthy

Clean and green tourism

St Mary’s Island is a beautiful little piece of land in the Arabian Sea, off the coast of Malpe. This tourist hotspot is just 20 minutes away by motor boat, from Malpe dockyard.

The island is known for its hexagonal rock pillars, which are picture perfect. Its serene beaches are treasure troves filled with beautiful shells, pebbles, cobbles and boulders. Unfortunately, as we stepped off the boat,  and set foot on the island, we realised that it was no longer what it had been — idyllic. There were bottles and plastics and tins thrown everywhere and had an open garbage dump. The beautiful pillars, with all their natural crevices had become a dumping ground for empty bottles.

We had to search for a place to just sit and enjoy the waves. The beach was that extremely dirty. Meanwhile, there were batches of tourists thronging the place.  Are the authorities concerned listening? Will something be done to clean up the beach and restore it to its past glory? In order to promote tourist destinations, local authorities need to be responsible and maintain such places.

Lakshmi M Bhat