Vijayapur is a place where one can stumble upon nuggets of history, almost at every other corner. With many tombs, forts and palaces dotting its skyline, Vijayapur makes for a perfect architectural trip. For those who are big fans of Islamic architecture, it is among the best places in Southern India.
The story of the city’s beginnings starts with the Kalyani Chalukyas during the 10-11 century AD. The 13th century saw the city coming under the control of the Khilji Sultanate, who ruled from Delhi. However, in 1347, the Bahmani Sultans conquered Vijayapur, who gave the city its name. After the Bahmani Sultanate split, the city came under the control of the Adil Shahi dynasty from 1490 AD to 1686 AD. Yusuf Adil Shah, founder of the Adil Shahi dynasty, ruled the Bijapur Sultanate for almost two decades. The rule of the dynasty ended when Aurangzeb conquered the city in 1686 AD.
One can find many citadels and forts that formed the first line of defence for the capital city here. Apart from this, the sultans also built many palaces and tombs in and around the city. The best known monument is the Gol Gumbaz, which has one of the largest domes in the world. Housing the tomb of Mohammed Adil Shah, who ruled Vijayapur between 1627 and 1656, the structure is known for its beautiful architecture. In fact, many consider it to be one among the finest examples of Deccan architecture.
Spread over 18,000 sq ft, this second largest dome in the world is also popular for its whispering gallery. This gallery, running alongside the dome interiors, has phenomenal acoustics, which amplifies every sound several times. Even the softest sound can be heard on the other side of the dome. Next to it is the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) Museum which displays several interesting artefacts of the bygone era of the Adil Shahi reign.
The Bijapur Fort is an expansive space that houses many historical monuments like Jumma Masjid, Mehtar Mahal, Bara Kaman, Malik-e-Maidan, Taj Bawdi, Asar Mahal, Jal Mahal and many more. Jumma Masjid, one of the largest mosques in Southern India, was also a remnant of the Adil Shahi dynasty. The mehrab on the western wall of the mosque has Quran inscribed in gold. The mosque is functional even today and prayers are offered regularly.
Built in honour of the first wife of Ibrahim II, Taj Sultana, Taj Bawdi is essentially a water reservoir. Many marvel at the beautiful entrance arch of the structure, surrounding which are two octagonal towers used as rest houses back then. Malik-e-Maidan is a huge artillery field gun that shows no sign of rust, despite having spent a considerable amount of time in the open. Ibrahim Roza is a stunning symmetrical monument in a nice garden that has tombs of Ibrahim Adil Shah, his two sons, wife and mother.
Jod Gumbaz is a twin dome monument built in memory of Khan Mohammed and Abdul Razzaq Qadiri, who were actually considered to be traitors in the empire, as they helped Aurangzeb defeat Adil Shahi. Upali Buruz is a tall formidable structure over which a cannon is placed. This served as a lookout point during the reign of the Sultans. This structure is credited to Hyder Khan. Bara Kaman is known to be the unfinished mausoleum of Ali Adil Shah II and his wives. Initially, 12 vertical arches were planned to be built, but plans didn’t materialise. The common belief is that if this structure was completed, its shadow would fall on Gol Gumbaz, which was not acceptable.
The historic city known for its heritage structures could benefit from a well-planned tourism. The government needs to work on roads, cleanliness and take up on more tourist-friendly measures. They can also take up on heritage walks, tours and cater to a wider audience.
Vijayapur is around 460 km from Bengaluru and is well-connected by road and rail. The best time to visit would be from October to March.