Glimpses of a glorious past

HERITAGE

Glimpses of a glorious past

The Adil Shahi rulers invited great architects from Turkey, Persia and Egypt to build landmarks in the then power centre of Bijapur during its golden period. As we browse through the pages of Deccan history, it becomes quite clear that every Sultan tried his best in surpassing the architectural landmarks built by their predecessors as they were all great patrons of art and architecture.

The city of Bijapur in North Karnataka opens up a great treasure for a history lover. Every sight of this city offers the visitor a glimpse of the golden past.  On paper, Bijapur remains one of the most popular tourism destinations, but a lack of proper heritage conservation, infrastructure in terms of accommodation, food and connectivity continue to plague the city’s heritage sites.

There has been a considerable amount of revenue generation, but too little or no honest effort has been made to get a world heritage status to any of Bijapur’s monuments. Rampant encroachments and inconsistency on the part of state governments have hampered development efforts.

The city has a huge list of 80-odd protected monuments. In reality, only a handful of them have been barricaded, compounded and protected. Thanks to the efforts of the ASI, the entire Gol Gumbaz and Ibrahim Roza monument have been compounded. This has stopped people from littering these heritage sites.  

The names of two chief architects from Persia Yakut Dabul and Malik Sandal who shaped the destiny of Bijapur will continue to be remembered by historians and tourists alike, for their contribution in erecting landmarks. Who can ignore the magnificent Gol Gumbaz and its massive dome supported by four seven-storeyed octagonal minarets providing access to the whispering galleries leading to the foot of the dome?

The ‘Teh Khana’ (underground) which is out of sight for a commoner is a great work of architecture. The entry to the underground is not open to the public due to poor visibility and security reasons. Light reflects on top of the grave of Mohd. Adil Shah through a small tunnel opening beneath the underground passage. The amazing style of construction throws a challenge to contemporary architects.

Ibrahim Roza

Ibrahim Roza, yet another heritage monument built by King Ibrahim Adil Shah,  king of Adil Shahi Dynasty, is an important landmark of Bijapur. The monument has a mausoleum and a mosque opposite it. The chief architect of this versatile structure was Malik Sandal of Iran. Surrounding the exterior four walls of the mausoleum, Quranic verses have been engraved. These verses were sculpted under the supervision of Al-Nakhil Hussain from Persia (Iran). Certain portions of the perforated sculpted verses have broken but others remain intact.

The place was meant to be the burial place for King Ibrahim’s wife Taj Sultana. Incidentally, the king died earlier than the queen and he was buried here, so the monument is named after Ibrahim Roza. It is said that Tippu Sultan, while on expedition to Bijapur, offered his prayers at the Ibrahim Roza mosque. There are certain similarities in style between the mosque at Ganjam at Srirangapatna and the Ibrahim Roza mosque.  
There can be no better monument to illustrate Indo-Islamic architecture than  Gol Gumbaz and Ibrahim Roza.  The intricate columns and brackets of the outer and inner galleries, medallion on brackets, chain and the mortar work in decorative motifs, window projections, petal niches at the dooms and minarets, load bearing beams and pillars are in perfect harmony with Indo-Islamic architectural style. The Bara Kaman, meaning twelve arches, remained an incomplete remnant of the Adil Shahi Dynasty. Experts say had this monument been completed it would have surpassed both Gol Gumbaz and Ibrahim Roza.

Malik Maidan gun

The cannon believed to be one of the heaviest cannons is four metres in length and 1.5 metres in diameter, and weighs a massive 55 tonnes. The cannon, protected in the fortress, is famous not only for its size, but also for its composition.

It is  believed that ‘Panch Dhaatu’ (alloy of five metals) was used to make this gun, also called the ‘Malik Maidan’ cannon. According to the inscriptions on the gun, it was made in 1549 at Ahmednagar.  The cannon was used in battles waged by successive rulers. The speciality of the cannon is that even after centuries it has neither corroded nor has time marred its sheen.

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