Thursday, January 29, 2009

The journey continues .... Gadag

Our visit to Badami cave temples, Aihole and Pattadakal in a day's time ended well providing us some comprehensive history lessons. We took a bus in the evening from Badami bus station to Gadag. As the bus rode on the highway via Ron and Betigeri, we stared constantly at the star-studded sky through the translucent windows of the bus. We spotted more stars than ever ; they appeared like a closely knit blanket of precious gemstones. Thanks to the pristine rural skies free from pollution and the near pitch darkness of the countryside, deprived of street/town lights that paved way for this gorgeous sight.
We arrrived at Gadag and planned activities for the last day of our Christmas vacation. Lakkundi, 12 km from Gadag, on the highway to Hosepet was our destination. We reached Gadag's new bus stand in the outskirts of the city next morning and boarded the bus to Koppal (NEKRTC bus service) which would stop at Lakkundi. At Lakkundi, we took some basic instructions from localites at the bus stand on whereabouts of the temples we intended to visit.
Closeby, behind the bus stand is the Manikeshwara temple. Built by the Chalukyas of Kalyani in the 11th century , this temple provides evidence for the remarkable improvement in temple architecture from earlier Chalukyas and the proximity in styles with those used by the Hoysalas. The Manikeshwara temple has smooth, lathe turned pillars with an ornate doorway. A beautiful, stepped tank (Kalyani/Pushkarini) lies in front of the temple, connected to the its plinth by a funny, bridge like structure.
From here, we took an auto and visited the ASI maintained sculptural gallery. Right behind the gallery is the Jain Brahma basadi, another Kalyana Chalukya monument of the 11 th century. The temple is marked by several features such as the lovely shikara, the mukhamantapa with highly decorative pillars and a sloping roof, the sanctum adorned by an elaborately carved doorway, 4-faced Brahma statue right outside the sanctum, a beheaded Jain statue outside the temple next to the smaller, Chandra basadi, all in the same complex. Close to Jain Brahma basadi is the Naganatha temple dedicated to Lord Parswanath.
We marched ahead on the dusty, village road towards Veeranarayana temple, poorly maintained by the villagers/private handlers and then further on to Kashi Viswanatha temple that stands on an elevated platform, the platform also shared by a Suryanarayana temple. The exterior walls of the temple have abundant sculptural wealth with the Kirthimukha piece, at periodic intervals and in perfect symmetry, adding more beauty. Adjacent to this complex, is the Naneshwar temple, bearing striking similarity to the Kashi Viswanatha temple in sculptural value.
The contribution of Chalukyas of Kalyani to Hindu temple architecture was no less when compared to their ancestors, Chalukyas of Badami. The Chalukyas of Badami were crushed by Dantidurga and the powerful empire that lasted over two centuries had no option but to submit to the Rashtrakutas. The Western Chalukyas regained power in Deccan in late 10th century (about 973 AD) with the seat of their kingdom at Kalyana, Bidar (Karnataka) which gave them the sobriquet – later western Chalukyas (10th -12th century) or Chalukyas of Kalyani. Pioneering efforts by Tailapa II and help from Kadambas led to the recovery of many lost territories. This etched a fresh chapter in history– the rebirth of the western Chalukyas. While Kadamabas were granted control over Goa and Banavasi for their favor, Chalukyas of Kalyani controlled the Deccan, protecting it against plundering invasions of Turks and Arabs from the north and in the South, from the Cholas. If Chalukyas of Badami were known for their multiple victories over the Pallava kings, Chalukyas of Kalyani were famous for an unbeaten string of victories over the Chola kings – Raja Raja Chola, (suffered defeat at the hands of Satyasraya), Rajendra Chola (defeated by Jayasimha, this ruler shifted the capital from Malkhed to Kalyana) and Rajadhi Raja Chola (defeated by Someshwara I). While wars with Cholas, Hoysalas and Kalachuris marked the reign of the Chalukyas of Kalyani (973-1190AD) prominently, aegis to art and architecture and refinement of temple building styles also had its share. The temples at Lakkundi, Dambal and Gadag built by Chalukyas of Kalyani provide an imposing evidence of the mammoth task they carried out to advance architecture styles.
We headed back to the bus stand and got back to Gadag. At Gadag, we visited the Veeranarayana temple, entirely refurbished and left with very little historical value; the Someshwara temple, in complete sculptural elegance from head to foot, one cannot spot a square inch area without carvings on it and the Trikuteshwara temple that also houses Goddess Saraswathi.The Trikuteshwara temple complex offers a blend of historical structures with current day extensions. The old Sarawathi temple has an array of very beautifully carved pillars - every design etched stands out crisply. The idol has broken hands and it is not customary to worship/perform puja to broken idols as per Hindu traditions. So a new complex has been built next to the old Sarawathi temple that houses the idols of Saraswathi, Savitri and Gayathri. While the Sarawathi temple (old and new) , adjacent green lawn (some village children were studying here with all concentration) lie on one side, the Trikuteshwara temple lies on the other side. This temple offers a mixture of several styles as it was built by Chalukyas of Kalyani and additions were made by Hoysalas at a later stage. Only a portion of this old temple is open to public and the earlier Suryanarayana sanctum has now been converted into a temple store room.
Dambala, about 20 km away from Gadag has a very beautiful temple - Dodda Basappa temple of 12th Century, built by Western Chalukyas . We could not fit this in our itinerary due to time constraints. Our Christmas vacation was a sheer visual treat. From temples to tombs, from primitive to refined architectural forms, we saw all that Adil shahis at Bijapur, Chalukyas, both early and later kings left for us to see.
And I did realise ... "The world is a book and those who do not travel read only a page".
Quick Tips :
How to Reach: Frequent buses ply from Badami to Gadag. Gadag is also connect by rail to Badami and Bangalore. Lakkundi and Dambal can be reached by buses from Gadag. Lakkundi can be reached by any bus from Gadag that plies to Koppal/Hosepet. There are Rajhamsa (NWKRTC) executive buses that ply between Gadag and Bangalore.
Where to stay : Hotel Geethanjali residency on Station road. Suites at highly affordable rates.
Very clean, budget hotel.
Food : Geethanjali Residency has an attached vegetarian restaurant, serves yummy South Indian food. My Food is a restaurant that serves good North Indian food.
Don't miss out on Misra Dharwad Peda on Tonga Road - yummy sweets and savories. We devoured Kundah, Karadanth, dharwad Peda, saboo daana chooda, bhakarwadi, besan pakode, yummy malai kulfi.
Places to See:
Trikuteshwara temple, Someshwara temple at Gadag. Take an auto to visit these temples.
Manikeshwara temple, Jain Brahma Basadi, Kashi Viswanatha temple at Lakkundi
Doddabasappa temple at Dambala
Will require an early start and one day to finish visiting all sites. Localites provide all required information of the temples. Guides not required.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A Journey into the Chalukyan epoch - Pattadakal

Leaving Aihole, we were traveling into an advanced chapter of Chalukyan temple building that culminates in the structural temples at Pattadakal, 13 km from Badami. Saturated with copious information from the boards erected by the Archaeological Survey of India at Aihole temples, we took a breather looking at the fields flanking the road leading from Aihole to Pattadakal. While in auto, we did a recee of the photos captured at Aihole and revised details of all we had seen before preparing ourselves for more history lessons at Pattadakal.

We crossed a small bridge over the Malaprabha river and arrived at Pattadakal which was designated a UNESCO world heritage site in the year 1987. The complex with green lawns invited us to a composite layout of temples in both North Indian nagara style (curvilinear shikaras) and South Indian dravidian style (towers made of receding tiers).

The Kadasiddheshwara temple and Jambulinga temple appear first in the complex. These twin temples, built in the nagara style have curvilinear shikaras over the sanctum. Closely resembling one another with curved and short shikaras, they can be distinguished on the basis of the sculptures on the facade of the shikara. Galaganatha temple also has a nagara styled shikara, taller than that of Jambulinga temple with sloping roofs coming down from it.

Right next to Galaganatha temple, lies the Sangameshwara temple with a mantapa of the Satavahana period in front of the temple. The Sangameshwara temple has a tower in dravidian style and arthamanatapa adorned with lattice windows.

At Pattadakal, one alternates between temples of nagara and dravidian styles. After Sangameshwara temple, comes Kashi Vishweshwara temple built in nagara style. A row of small enclosures next to this temple houses multiple shiva lingas. Proceeding further, we arrive at the most important monuments in this complex – the Mallikarjuna temple and the Virupaksha temple that have abundant historical significance associated with it.

The indomitable spirit of the Chalukyan empire crumbled due to various internal conflicts during the reign of Pulakesin II (610-642AD) under whose rule, the Chalukyan empire also saw unprecedented conquests and expansion uptil Narmada river in the North and Cauvery in the South. The Pallavas in rebuttal crushed Chalukyas and suppressed them for a period of 13 years. Regain of power came with the kings Vikramaditya I, Vijayaditya who is believed to have built the Sangameshwara temple and more appropriately, to a bigger extent with Vikaramaditya II. Vikramaditya II ‘s repeated victories over the Pallavas of Kanchi and advancement into the Pallava territory after crushing Nandivarman II marked the completion of a vengeful act for the fate Chalukyas met at the hands of Pallava king Narasimhavarman in 642 AD.

Mallikarjuna temple constructed by Queen Trilokamahadevi, wife of Vikramaditya II (740 AD) is a downsized version of the Virupaksha temple.Virupaksha temple with a main entrance opposite a big and separate, Nandi Mantapa, two side porches leading to a pillared arthamantapa has a huge tower made of receding tiers and closely resembles the Kailashanath temple of Kanchi. This was built in 740 AD by Queen Lokamahadevi, wife of Vikramaditya II. Both these temples were built to commemorate Vikramaditya II’s victory over the Pallavas. The fine elements of sculptural beauty and workmanship of an inexplicable degree can be seen in the many symmetrical pillars that depict Puranic tales , elephant head brackets that support these pillars and the heavily sculpted walls on the exterior in these two temples.

A walkway, along side the Malaprabha river leads one to the Papanatha temple that stands on an elevated platform attracting one and all with its grand and heavily crafted external walls carrying scenes from the epic Ramayana. Every sculpture on the wall here glowed in the evening sunlight. Papanatha temple is unique in that it has a mix of nagara and dravidian styles in it.

We walked back to the entrance of the temple complex rallying through the multiple frames captured of many temples we visited since morning. The patronage, Chalukyas of Badami provided to Hindu temple architecture is of an unimaginable magnitude and to understand this, a visit to Badami, Aihole and Pattadakal is a necessity. This supreme empire ended with the ruler Kirthivarman II, Chalukyas of Badami were subjugated completely by the Rashtrakutas for over two centuries only to reappear as the Chalukyas of Kalyani adding more tales of valor, war and conquests to Indian history and much more finesse to the Hindu temple architecture. And our journey into the Chalukyan epoch continues.

Quick Tips:
How to reach: Hire an auto from Badami. Complete a round trip from Badami to Aihole and Pattadakal for Rs.500. Hotels in Badami arrange for this upon request.

Some important information: Pattadakal is a small village. There are no hotels/restaurants here. Shops selling cool drinks, fruits and snacks exist close to the temple complex.

Places to see: All temples at the Pattadakal complex. One will require roughly 3 hours time here.

Guide: All temples have boards with clear details erected by the ASI. Grab a picture of these boards, read the contents on the digital camera screen and explore the monuments on your own based on these details. Guides are very costly.

Best time to visit: Winter months – overhead sun may not be as big a problem as at Aihole for there are some trees and green lawns to cool our heads.

A Journey into the Chalukyan epoch - Aihole

Aihole, about 34 km from Badami, the initial capital of Chalukyas of Badami, formed the first experimentation ground for the empire’s temple building activities. Looking at the multitude of temples strewn across this small village, one can witness the process of evolution in Hindu temple architecture unfold from the simple, shed – like temples with sloping roofs to intricate structures with distinct mukha mandapa, artha mandapa, garba griha and tall, grand shikaras, spanning from 6th to 12 th century AD.

We hired an auto from Badami and reached the Aihole temple complex that houses Durga temple, Lad Khan temple and many other temples. The first temple we spotted in the complex was Durga temple or the fortress temple, a renowned symbol of Karnataka State Tourism.

Standing on an elevated platform, the Durga Temple attracts the tourists with its unconventional apsidal plan, pillared hall with intricate sculptures of Chamundeshwari and Mahishasuramardhini and curvilinear shikara over the sanctum (top is broken). The temple appears like a shiva linga due to its curved, nearly oval corridor running around the mukhamantapa.

Right next to the Durga temple, are three small temples and a tank. Walking ahead, one hits the Suryanarayana Gudi. The temple houses a statue of Lord Suryanarayana with his consorts – Usha and Sandhya and bears a broken, nagara style tower over the sanctum.

The Lad Khan temple stands next, quite different from the other temples nearby, presenting a two-storied facade. The mukhamantapa is adorned with 16 intricately carved pillars and the arthamandapa with lattice windows. The temple has a sloping roof and appears like a village house with a thatched roof. Initially, claimed to be a royal assembly hall or a marriage hall, Lad Khan temple got its name from the name of the person who made this temple his abode. The temple has a big sabhamantapa apart from the mukhamantapa, believed to have been used by the Chalukyan king, Pulakesin I for performing Ashvamedha Yagna (Horse sacrifice).

Gaudara Gudi, a primitive structure attracts one with its simplicity. It is the oldest temple at Aihole dated 5th century. A tank separates Gaudara Gudi and Chakra Gudi, the next temple in the complex. Chakra Gudi has a beautiful, curvilinear shikara, still intact with a rounded top. The Badiger Gudi and Ambiger Gudi are other temples that lie close by.

Walking a little away from this complex, one reaches the Huchimalli temple of the 8th century. This temple has a highly decorated curvilinear, nagara style shikara on top of the sanctum. Moving from Gaudara Gudi, Lad Khan temple to Huchimalli, one can find stark signs of evolution in the temple building styles and the increasing attention paid to elements of decoration and grandiose.

Walking down the road away from Huchimalli Gudi, one reaches the Ravanphadi cave temple. A very promising sight it offers in that, the cave’s interior has a deeply inset empty hall on one side and on other side, tall sculpture of Lord Shiva, 10 armed, in dancing pose with a serpent in hand; with Ganesha, Karthik and Goddess Parvathy forming the audience. A rock cut shivalinga is present in the sanctum between these two sections. Ravanphadi is an absolute “must see” site and rewinds memories of the Badami rock cut cave temples.

The Mallikarjuna temple complex, Huchipayanamatha with simple, house-like construction and Tryambakeshwar temple complex are other sites closeby. Atop a hillock, lie the Megutti Jain temple and the two-storied Buddhist temple that can be reached by a well laid out flight of stairs. We were reluctant to climb up as we were reeling under hunger, heat exhaustion due to the overhead, midday sun and running short of time.

To sum up, Aihole is a perfect example of a remote village transformed into a tourist spot for being the cradle of Indian temple architecture and for the unfathomable historical value it holds.
Quick Tips:

How to reach: Hire an auto from Badami. Complete a round trip from Badami to Aihole and Pattadakal for Rs.500. Hotels in Badami arrange for this upon request.

Some important information: Aihole is a very small village. There are no hotels/restaurants here. Shops selling tender coconut water, some fruits and snacks exist close to the temple complex that houses Durga temple.

Places to see:
Temple complex consisting of Durga temple, Lad Khan temple and Gaudara Gudi. Durga Gudi and Lad Khan temple require a good chunk of time.
Huchimalli temple
Ravanphadi cave temple (very important)
Huchipayyana Matha
Jain Megutti temple and two storied Buddhist temple
Galaganatha group of temples at the bank of river Malaprabha

These are the most notable temples in Aihole. Can complete a tour of all these if one starts early in the morning from Badami so that the afternoon sun & heat exhaustion do not cripple your plans. We had to skip the last two as we visited the cave temples and Bhoothnath group the same morning and this delayed our trip to Aihole. There are innumerable temple complexes apart from those mentioned above. Stating that, it is just not possible to have a look at them all.

Guide: Guides are pretty expensive. Details from ASI boards and self exploration will suffice.

Best time to visit: Winter months - Nov – Feb. Even during winter, the afternoon hours are extremely hot. Wear a cap to avoid fainting and carry lots of water. There are no lawns around, it is rocks all over the dry village and it just cannot get any better with the scorching heat of the sun eating your head.


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Journey into the Chalukyan epoch - Badami

Day 2 of Christmas 2008 vacation, we left Bijapur and headed to Badami. Badami can be reached via two routes – Bijapur – Kerur – Badami, Bijapur – Bagalkot – Badami. Direct state buses to Badami are virtually non-existent. We boarded the NWKRTC Hubli fast bus service to reach Kerur from Bijapur Bus stand. Kerur is about 90 km from Bijapur and closer to Badami (Kerur is about 20 km from Badami) than Bagalkote. From Kerur, there are frequent buses to Badami.

We reached Badami, also referred to as Vatapi in history, the seat of the Chalukyan empire. The Chalukyas of Badami were the early Chalukyas who ruled the Deccan (mostly Northern Karnataka) from 6th to 8th centuries. The empire rose to prominence under the rule of Pulakesin I. Not only was the empire known for gallantry on the battlefield, repeated victories over the Pallavas, but also for its unlimited aegis to Hindu temple architecture. The rock cut cave temples of Badami, over 100 temple complexes present today at Aihole, temples in North Indian nagara style and South Indian Dravidian style at Pattadakal ratify the unprecedented efforts in taking temple architecture from a nascent stage to a fully evolved phase. The later empires - Chalukyas of Kalyani, Hoysalas, Vijayanagar empire, and the Mysore kings added more elements of sculptural detail and finesse to this evolved temple architecture.
We were at the entrance of the rock cut cave temples in Badami at 5.15 pm. Again, buses full of school children alighted at the temples and we decided to avoid the crowd, visit rock cut temples the next morning. We proceeded to the Museum, it was a Friday – a museum holiday. Right next to the museum, we found a board directing us to shivalaya (temples) and fort atop the hillock. Flights of stairs laid out between huge rocks took us to the lower Shivalaya (temple). A deserted temple, wearing a worn out look, in brown-red sandstone, in perfect unison against the background of huge, rocky hillocks of the same color, heavily inhabited by very notorious monkeys was the first frame we captured of Badami. A big, green colored tank called Agasthya Theertha between two hillocks glistened in the evening sunlight. It was beautiful and we yearned to get a better view by proceeding to a greater height following the carefully laid out flight of stairs which gave way to two diversions at a certain point. Going along one, we reached some fortification at the top of the hillock. Trailing the other, we reached the upper shivalaya (temple). The view from here was a perfect treat, the Agasthya theertha with its green expanse, bearing few temples on its banks, the hillock opposite to the one we were standing on housed the 4 cave temples, they appeared as small cavities amidst huge rocks and were teeming with people, while we stood alone, soaking up the beauty of Badami at peace. Close to sunset, we climbed down the flight of stairs, saw two mantapa en route (an alternate and very narrow flight of stairs leads to these mantapas) and got down to the museum. We walked on the road flanking the Agasthya Theertha and saw the Kappe Arabhattan inscription.

We were at the rock cut cave temples next day morning at 7.30. Constructed by the Chalukyan kings – Kirthivarman I and Mangalesha in the late 6th century, these wonders lie at the mouth of a ravine encapsulated by hillocks which empties its water into the Agasthya Theertha. These cave temples are etched out from the sandstone rock faces of the hillock.They have an exterior, sharply discontinuous from the plain rock face, pillared halls with walls full of sculptures and a deeply inset sanctum. There are 4 cave temples plus a natural cave formation to see at this site.
The cave 1 is dedicated to Lord Shiva, caves 2 and 3 to Lord Vishnu and cave 4 to Mahaveera (Jain influence). The natural cave formation is dedicated to Buddha. The Chalukyas of Badami were Vaishnavites but were well known for their tolerance towards other religious sects and Shaivite influences.

The cave 1 has some striking features - an 18-armed Shiva’s dancing sculpture, sculptures of Harihara and Ardhanareeshawara, Mahishasurmardhini, Karthikeya and Ganesha. The sanctum (garbagriha) has a shiva linga.

Cave 2 is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and has sculptures of Thirukvikrama and Varaha. The pillared verandah and an internal hall with many columns lead to the sanctum which is empty. The ceilings have very intricate and symmetrical designs.

A flight of stairs leads to the cave 3, the largest and the oldest cave of all the 4 (Cave 3 is dated 578 AD). This cave is also dedicated to Lord Vishnu and has astoundingly tall, full relief sculptures of Narasimha, Bhuvaraha, Thiruvikrama. There is also a sculpture of Lord Vishnu seated on a lotus under a serpent hood. The pillars in the verandah of this cave are very precisely cut out and highly symmetrical. There are multiple columns and bracket supports bearing sculptures of an amorous couple. The cave 3 displays impeccable workmanship and keeps you hooked to its beauty for long.
From here, another flight of stairs leads to cave 4 of Jain influence. This cave is adorned by a pillared verandah, full relief sculptures of Parswanath, Bahubali with beautiful locks of hair, Mahaveera and Tirthankaras. The sanctum has a Mahaveera statue in sitting posture.

Between Cave 2 and Cave 3 is a natural cave dedicated to Buddha with the statue of Padampani Buddha. A flight of stairs between these two caves leads one to the top of this hillock. At the top of the hillock, is some fortification and a cannon supposedly placed by Tipu Sultan. A small wicket before the flight of stairs remained closed and we were not able to make it to the top.
We walked around the Agasthya Theertha and visited the Bhoothnath group of temples on its bank. En route, we stopped at the Rashtrakuta temples - a group of 4 simple temples right after the Kappe Arrabhattan inscription. A well-maintained lawn with big rocks having sculptures of Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, Durga, Narasimha etched on them exists behind the Bhoothnath group of temples.
Quick Tips:
How to Reach:
From Bijapur, bus to Kerur is preferable than to Bagalkote. Kerur to Badami has very frequent bus service. KSRTC bus service exists from Bangalore to Badami/Bagalkote.

Where to Stay: Hotel New Satkar (opp. Badami bus stand) offers a good stay at nominal rate. The rooms are overpriced for their standard but it is just unavoidable as Badami is frequented by foreign tourists. Hotel Rajsangam International, close to the bus stand has rooms with tariff starting from Rs.800.
For contact details of hotels, please refer to:

Food: Rajsangam International hotel has a restaurant in its premises which provides simple vegetarian food. Hotel Badami Court, a little away from Badami bus stand is a place to check out if one wants a varied cuisine (veg/non-veg, tandoori stuff etc)

Places to see:
Upper and lower Shivalaya with two mantapas, fort on a hillock close to the museum.
Agasthya Theertha with Bhoothnath group of temples.
Kappe Arabhattan inscription
Badami rock cut cave temples (preferably early in the morning to avoid school crowd)
Malegutti Shivalaya
All monuments are open from 6am to 6pm.

Guide: Guides are very costly. They charge Rs 200 for taking you around the 4 cave temples. There are boards with elaborate details. Capture a picture of these boards and refer to the details in them from the screen of your digital camera whenever you require. That will suffice.

Options for sightseeing: Keeping Badami as the base, one can travel to Aihole, Pattadakal, Mahakuta and Banasankari. An auto can be hired to visit all these places starting in the morning for an amount of Rs.550 inclusive of waiting charges at the monuments. Hiring an auto for a round trip (Badami – Aihole – Pattadakal – Badami) is the most convenient option and most hotels make arrangements on request.

Friday, January 9, 2009


It was Christmas time, Viswa and I got some time off from work to make a small tour to some marvels of Indian History. Bijapur , 590 km from Bangalore was our destination and we left by a 7pm NWKRTC (Rajahamsa Executive) bus service. A 12 hour journey with a brief halt at a highway Dhaba for dinner took us to this sleepy city under a shroud of mist, nestled within thick fort walls that have stood the test of time, studded with many mosques and tombs that speak volumes of its history, only an iota of which we receive from our schoolbooks.

Founded by the Chalukyas of Kalyani in the 10th century, then known as Vijaypura (city of victory), Bijapur has cradled several dynasties over a long period. From the Bahmani Sultanate to Adil Shahis , from the Mughal ruler, Aurangazeb ; Nizam of Hyderabad, Marathas of Peshwa, Tipu Sultan to pre-independance British East India company, Bijapur has a long tale to tell. However, of all the dynasties, it is the Adil Shahi dynasty (1489-1686), the lineage comprising of Yusuf Adil Shah, Ismail Adil Shah, Ibrahim Adil Shah I , Ali Adil Shah I , Ibrahim Adil Shah II , Mohammad Adil Shah, Ali Adil Shah II and Sikandar Adil Shah that left an indelible mark on the city . Its rulers created some masterpieces of architecture which have Indian and foreign visitors flocking to them till this day.

We started the day with Ibrahim Rouza - the mausoleum and mosque built by Ibrahim Adil Shah II that lies in the western outskirts of the city. A beautiful monument, with green and well maintained lawns around it, an ornamental gateway with 4 minarets leads you to a mosque (right) and tomb (left) on a common plinth. The mausoleum has Quranic inscriptions on its windows and houses the graves of Ibrahim Adil Shah II and his family (comprising of his mother, wife , daughter and 2 sons).

From here, we proceeded to Malik-e-Maidan, one of the largest mediveal cannons weighing 55 tons, its mouth crafted like a lion devouring an elephant. This cannon stood on an elevated platform called Sherza Burj. Upli Burj, also known as Hyder Burj, a watchtower , is a stone's throw away from Malik e Maidan. Atop the Hyder Burj, one can get a bird's eye view of the city - the massive Gol Gumbaz tomb, Jod Gumbaz, Ibrahim Rauza, Bara Taang Masjid, it is just tombs around you in every direction.

We visited the Taj Bawadi , a tank built by Ibrahim Adil Shah II in fond memory of his wife, Taj Sultana. A big arch flanked by two octagonal towers welcomed us to the tank, its water put to use for washing/bathing by the localites and for maintaining lawns of nearby Gagan Mahal. Very close to Taj Bawadi is Jod Gumbaz , the twin tombs complex, currently a dargah. Barah Kamaan , the incomplete mausoleum of Ali Adil Shah II featured next in our list. Though incomplete, this monument has a unique element of elegance with majestic arches all over on a raised, square platform. We then visited Gagan Mahal, the royal palace built by Ali Adil Shah I.What remains of this today is a big hall, its facade marked by a magnificent central arch flanked by two small arches on either side.

After a short snack and some rest, we resumed sight seeing. We took a quick look at Asar Mahal (currently, a dargah) with a huge, square tank and some fortification in ruins nearby; Mehtar Mahal, the house of royal servants with a very ornamental gateway and highly bracketted and intricate balcony before we reached Jumma Masjid.
Jumma Masjid looked lovely with a big, onion dome and a huge central lawn in front of a big, prayer hall. The golden altar looked brillaint in the centre of the hall with quranic verses etched all over it. The floor of the prayer hall has stones laid by Aurangazeb, on a single tile per worshipper basis.

A round of snaps at Jumma Masjid and we were left with just one more place to see - the Gol Gumbaz , the jewel of Bijapur.The brown beauty, the world's second largest dome (next to St.Peters' at Rome) has a museum in front of it. We took a cursory glance at the artifacts in the museum and rushed to get a detailed view of the BIG dome with four, 7 - storeyed minarets rising tall from the corners of its square base, green lawns laid around in perfect contrast to its brown exterior. We could see people getting to the top of the tomb and felt elated. Most authorities do not permit visitors to the top of such monuments for fear of weak/falling masonary. But here, we had school children in abundance, college folk, middle aged and very old people, all waiting to climb to the top to reach the whispering gallery.

Yes, the whispering gallery, where even the faintest sound made can be heard 11 times and distinctly for about 9 times. We reached the top at 5.30pm and went inside the gallery to perform our experiments but were taken aback at the utter chaos that prevailed. There was so much noise inside that it was sheerly a nauseating experience. We came out of the gallery with the promise we will return early next morning.

We soaked up the sight of beautiful sunset around us, at a height where we felt closest to the blue covers of the sky with orange-red sun's streaks running all over it. A distance away, we saw a replica of the Gol Gumbaz. So prominently visible was its dome that a queer interest settled in and we asked the local guard, details of what we looked at. The distant replica known as the Mini Gumbaz, located at Aainapur (Mahal Taanda), a village about 6 km away served as a blueprint for the construction of Gol Gumbaz.

"Early bird catches the worm" and we were at Gol Gumbaz the next morning at 7am. Gol Gumbaz is open from 6 am to 6 pm and we were at the whispering gallery at 7.30am , just us and nobody else. A click of the fingers could be heard 6-7 times. Some loud claps from our hands could be heard 11 times, the 10th and 11th little muffled than the rest. Truly, a rewarding experience!! All alone, we interacted with the dome and gazed at its interior trying to comprehend how this phenomenon was possible, how and from where the sound travelled to constitute this litany.

From the top, we could see the Mini Gumbaz under a cover of flowing mist and the limits of the ancient city, reluctant to wake up to the sun's early rays. We walked around the Gol Gumbaz capturing its images from various angles. We sincerely advise one and all to make a visit to this monument as early as possible in the morning.

We took an auto to Aainapur to reach Mini Gumbaz. En route, we saw a tall statue of Lord Shiva and some incomplete structures which the localites explained was the original site where Gol Gumbaz construction began ,got suspended and then reinitiated in its current location in the city. The mini gumbaz, stood in front of us, totally deserted on an elevated platform, with few pigeons as its sole visitors, the villagers busily attending to their usual chores and some quarrying activity happening a distance away.

Our Bijapur tour was drawing to a close.We reached the bus stand, recollecting all that we had seen, packed with memories of a live museum, of an ancient city still brimming with life and history in every corner. We cached these memories in precious and beautiful pictures.
Quick Tips
How to reach Bijapur: NWKRTC bus service , Rajahamsa executive bus leaves at 7 pm and reaches next day morn at 6.30. Train route exists from Bangalore to Bijapur but is way too long.
Where to stay : Hotel Madhuvan International , Station road . Clean, budget hotel with vegetarian restaurant in the complex
Hotel Pearl and Hotel Kanishka International on Station Road also seemed promising.
Where to eat : Kamath Restaurant (Hotel Kanishka international complex), Hotel Madhuvan International garden restaurant. There are many restuarants on Station road, they are all good.
How to commute in the city : Most monuments are in the central part of the city close to
the bus stand, can hire a bicycle to see them all. If you stay on Station road, Gol Gumbaz is the closest, can walk down to Gol Gumbaz from most hotels on this road. Engage an auto to visit Ibrahim Rauza, Malik e Maidan, Upli Burj, Taj bawadi, Jod Gumbaz, Barah Kamaan, Gagan Mahal for Rs 200 (inclusive of waiting charges at the monuments)

Guide : They are very costly. Not required as all monuments have boards and placards with full details in front of them. It is pretty interesting to read boards, remember details from them and observe monuments carefully.
Must see : Gol Gumbaz (best time to visit - 6 am to 8 am) , Ibrahim Rauza, Malik e Maidan, Upli Burj, Barah Kamaan , Gagan Mahal, Mini gumbaz
How long to stay : Bijapur can be seen around in a day's time if one starts early. Just as one reaches Bijapur, say at 7am, one can get down at Gol Gumbaz, leave the luggage in the cloak room at the monument, peacefully take a look at the monument and perform experiments with echo at the whispering gallery. Gol Gumbaz just teems with people after 9 - 10 am.
One can then visit other places starting from Ibrahim Rauza (this is a very beautiful monument which most people coming to Bijapur miss out). Starting the day at 7am should provide enough time to wrap up the tour in a day's time.