To take a historical detour

To take a historical detour

To take a historical detour

Few people have not heard of the plethora of monuments that are housed in Vijayapura. With renowned mausoleums like Gol Gumbaz and Ibrahim Roza, and artistic structures like Bara Kaman dotting the city, Vijayapura has emerged as a city of monuments. The Adil Shahi dynasty  that successfully ruled the Vijayapura Sultanate for a little over two centuries during the medieval period was known to have developed the Deccan region, particularly Vijayapura, in almost all spheres of life.

Not only did they envisage amenities for citizens, but also had a penchant for cultural awareness, music and arts. Among their many other interests was the development of gardens, tanks and reservoirs.

Given that they had to survive the scorching heat of the Deccan plateau, it was only prudent that they gave more importance to water bodies and greenery to keep the surroundings cooler.

A pleasant break
As a result, they even built a summer resort, not far from the city, where the royal family would head to enjoy cool and pleasant environs. While the Adil Shahi rulers were busy building and beautifying their own capital, one of their nobles, Mubarak Khan, took up the task of building a summer resort for the kings. Located appropriately beside a beautiful lake in the village of Kumatgi are the remnants of the resort that once thrived.

Most of the present day tourists zealously visit the umpteen monuments and mausoleums at Vijayapura, but skip the visit to Kumatgi. Of course, Kumatgi does not offer architectural masterpieces like Vijayapura. But whatever structures remain there serve as a testimonial to the ingenuity of those kings to have a full-fledged home in a cooler atmosphere.

During my latest visit to Vijayapura, a day was dedicated to visit the lesser- known monuments on the outskirts. At hardly 12 km east of Vijayapura on the Sindagi road, it was quite easy to reach Kumatgi on a sunny afternoon. Strolling across the field as I approached a ruined edifice that looked like a watchtower, I was met by a caretaker. Unlocking the gate, he offered to show me around the place. There was a rather smallish two-tiered structure in the centre, on a platform surrounded by a moat. This was the summer palace, I was told, where the kings and their entourage would make it to beat the heat.

The channels were filled with water and the walls of the ground floor used to have pipes through which water constantly flowed. The palace itself is surrounded by waterways and cisterns to cool the air. The upper floor has four rooms and four large windows for good ventilation. This was probably where the kings used to stay. Devoid of decorative motifs and sculptures, the palace appeared simple, yet purposeful.

To the north of the palace is another building that is said to be the royal bath house. Though not spacious, it has tiny ponds for bathing. It was a surprise to know that they even had showers. The ceiling has artistic patterns. To top it all, there are frescoes along the walls of the bath. Though the paintings have not retained colours, the fading figures of people, the royalty, hunters and animals can all still be seen.

Tragic end
The place once had a fine garden dotted with numerous fountains and abundant trees. But now, a few tamarind trees are all that can be seen. At the north western corner is a broken bastion. It served the dual purpose of a watchtower, as also a storage tank for water. Such towers adorned the four corners. In the western periphery is the tank of Kumatgi, the source of water for the palace.

If Kumatgi was a pleasure palace for the kings, on the other side of Vijayapura is a place known for a tragedy. Just on the western fringes of the town, off the Athani road is a bizarre spot, Saat Kabar. You do not find any monument here, but a cluster of graves. During the 17th century, Afzal Khan, a chief of Adil Shah II, was about to embark on a battle with the legendary Shivaji. His astrologer prophesied that he would lose the battle and die.

Fearing that if he died, his 60 wives would remarry, he beckoned all of them to a well and mercilessly pushed them to death. This bizarre incident has gone down in history as a tragedy. Rows of graves stand together as if to wail the sad end of his innocent wives. Though there is nothing to rejoice here, this is something unusual that deserves to be seen.

So the next time you head to Vijayapura, take out an extra day to visit these little-known historical sites.

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