Where kings & traitors rest

Where kings & traitors rest

Where kings & traitors rest
Don’t get perplexed when you catch sight of a dome in any direction you turn to, it’s just that you are in the city of domes, Vijayapura. The largest, of course, is Gol Gumbaz, which is an architectural masterpiece and it is said to been built around the same time as the dome of St Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. Muhammed Adil Shah decided to build a grand mausoleum, Gol Gumbaz, for himself in order to outdo his father, Ibrahim Adil Shah II, who built what is today known as Ibrahim Rauza, located outside the walls of the city. Ibrahim Rauza is the most ornamental and aesthetic of all Adil Shahi mausoleums. Both these mausoleums are popular with the tourists and are well-maintained.

But it was Ali Adil Shah I, Ibrahim II’s father, who started the tradition of building royal mausoleums in Vijayapura. His tomb, known as Ali-I-Rauza, is a modest square structure sans any dome. There are five cenotaphs housed within the chamber surrounded by an arched corridor. Prince Daulat Afza, the grandson of Aurangzeb is buried on a platform north of this tomb within the same compound. Finding this monument was a wild goose chase as no one knew the monument by its name and we happened to find it only after a local recognised it from a photo I had of the monument!

Royal tombs
The last royal funerary monument built in Vijayapura is that of Ali Adil Shah II which is unfinished. Under him, the glory of Vijayapura began to decline and the Mughals made their way in. The tomb is called Bara Kaman colloquially, as it has 12 arches both horizontally and vertically. Bara Kaman has the tombs of Ali Adil Shah, his wife Chand Bibi, and maybe, some other women in his zenana. Unfortunately, it was never completed and no one knows why.

Another interesting mausoleum, apart from the royal ones, is the Jod Gumbaz (twin domes). I didn’t find any information about the monument and whose remains it houses save one source. According to the source, the octagonal building on the south is the resting place of a traitor Khan Muhammad and of his son Khavas Khan, Vizier to Sikandar Adil Shah (the last Adil Shah).

Khan Muhammad, who was in command of the troops in the field, was bought over by the commander of the imperial forces of Aurangzeb. He remained inactive at a critical juncture when he had the enemy entirely in his hands thereby leading to the defeat of the Adil Shahis. He was assassinated on his way back to the city but Aurangzeb ordered a mausoleum to be built for him.

The larger square tomb is that of Abdul Razaq Qadir, Khawas Khan’s religious tutor. To the west of these two tombs is a third one, which is said to be that of Siddi Rehan. Siddi Rehan was an officer who distinguished himself during the reign of Mohammad Adil Shah. There is also a mosque attached to the mausoleum. The cenotaph of Abdul Razaq is worshipped by locals who believe him to be a saint. Women aren’t allowed inside the vaults containing the graves and the halls beneath the domes are locked. So I could only admire the external beauty of the monuments. Sadly, no information about the monument is put up by the authority in-charge and the locals too are totally unaware of the history of the place. 

The last of the large mausoleums I visited is that of Ain-ul-Mulk who was an officer of Ibrahim Adil Shah I, the Shah of the kingdom of Vijayapura. However, Ain-ul-Mulk rebelled against him and was killed. His mausoleum is a few kilometres east of  Gol Gumbaz outside the city walls, but it is surprising why a rebel was allowed such an honour. The locals call it mini Gol Gumbaz as it served as the prototype for Gol Gumbaz. In this dome too, the acoustics are noteworthy, but not as brilliant as that of Gol Gumbaz.

The cenotaphs have been destroyed and the guard said that this monument was used for anti-social activities till a few years ago when a compound wall was built and a guard was posted. There is a mosque nearby, and a couple of ruined monuments further away. This monument too is largely unknown even to the locals. It is visible from atop Gol Gumbaz and you can ask someone at the ASI office there for directions.

Vijayapura attracted numerous Sufi saints from the North and the entire city is dotted with dargahs of these saints and seers. Usually they are simple open structures with a dome on top. Some of the dome capped mausoleums house the cenotaphs of nobles and military generals too, though their names have faded into oblivion. Grand funerary monuments are typical of the Rajputs and Mughals but those of the Adil Shahis are no less in their splendour and style. The next time you are in Vijayapura, walk off the well-trodden path and explore some of the lesser known mausoleums and get a taste of Indo-Persian-Ottoman architecture.