Bijapur is a historical city in Karnataka. The city is famous for its ancient monuments, mosques, mausoleums, palaces, fortifications and other structures. Situated at a distance of about 530 km to the northwest of Bangalore, Bijapur attracts scores of tourists who flock to have a glimpse of the historical, cultural and architectural beauty of the city.
Bijapur was renamed as Vijayapur in 2014.
History of Bijapur
Bijapur is an ancient city that was founded in the 10th-11th century by Kalyani Chalukyas, the then rulers of South India. During that period it was known as Vijayapura which means the ‘City of Victory.’ Later it came under the rule of the Yadavas and then the Bahmani Sultanate of Gulbarga. It was the capital of the Adil Shahi kings from 1489 to 1686. The city came under the dominion of Aurangazeb in 1686 and from then the downfall of this city started.
Due to the influence of different rulers, the city imbibed various cultural influences. As such, even today the city displays strong Islamic character as well as Shaivik character.
Architectural Splendour of Bijapur
Bijapur is well-known for the exceptional architecture of its monuments and structures that are mainly of Islamic style. The splendid mosques and tombs in the city speak volumes about the master craftsmanship of the workers of that time. The intricate work displayed in the palaces, monuments and the fort indicates the stress laid on delicate carvings and symmetry.
Many structures in the city have withstood the test of time and continue to mesmerize people even today with their impressive architectural beauty.
Tourism in Bijapur
Bijapur has several monuments and structures that are worth visiting. Some of them are:
Gol Gumbaz or Gol Gumbadh is a mausoleum of Mohammad Adil Shah who was the sultan of Bijapur. This circular dome is the second-largest one in the world. It took 20 years to build and was completed in the year 1656.
One of the unique features of Gol Gumbaz is that the interior of the huge dome is unsupported. The dome has superb acoustic features that ensure even the softest of whispers is clearly heard inside it.
Jumma Masjid of Bijapur is one of the oldest mosques in India. It was built by Ali Adil Shah I in 1578 to celebrate his victory in the Battle of Talikota in 1565. Spread over an area of about 10810 sq meter is also the largest mosque in the region.
Jumma Masjid is known to hold an exquisite copy of the Quran that is written in gold. It can accommodate about 2500 persons offering prayer at one sitting.
Malik-e-Maidan or Master of the Battlefield is a huge cannon located on the top of a tower lying in the precinct of the Bijapur Fort. It is also known as Burj-E-Sherz and is considered to be one of the largest forged medieval guns in the world. It was set up by Ibrahim Adil Shah II.
The muzzle of the cannon is shaped in the form of a lion head with open jaws. The cannon has a length of 4.45 metres, a diameter of 1.5 metres and weighs 55 tons.
Ibrahim Roza or Ali Rauza is the mausoleum of Ibrahim Adil Shah II (1580-1627). This finely decorated tomb was built in 1627. Ibrahim Roza also contains the tomb of Taj Sultana, the queen of Adil Shah II.
Ibrahim Roza is known for it’s artistically laid out corridors, beautifully decorated walls and tall minarets. The large square compound of the monument also has a mosque apart from the tomb.
Upli Buruj, also known as Uplri Buruj or Hyder Burj, is a 16th-century watchtower situated near the western walls of the Bijapur city. It is an 80 ft high tower that was built around 1584 by Hyder Khan, one of the commanders of Adil Shahi army.
An external flight of stone stairs lead to the top of this spherical structure. On top of the tower, there are two huge cannons. The top of the tower also offers a splendid view of the city.
Asar Mahal, also known as Asar-E-Sharif, was built by Mohammad Adil Shah in 1646 to serve as a Hall of Justice. Asar Mahal once housed two hairs from Prophet Mohammed’s beard.
There is a large square tank in front of the Asar Mahal. The Urs festival is celebrated at this venue every year. Women are not allowed to enter Asar Mahal.
Gagan Mahal is a palace that was built by Ali Adil Shah I in 1561. The palace is known for its majestic central arch that is considered to be the tallest and widest among all the arches found in Bijapur. The palace acted as the royal residence and the darbar hall (audience hall) of Ali Adil Shah I. The darbar hall, located on the ground floor of the palace, is completely open on one side.
Places of interest near Bijapur
Aihole is the ‘Cradle of Indian Temple Architecture.’ Located at a distance of 110 km from Bijapur, this village is known for its historic temples that date back to the 5th century CE. Aihole has 125 stone temples, all of which display intricate carvings and details.
Some of the attractions of Aihole are the Lad Khan Temple, the Durga temple complex, the Ambigera Gudi complex, the Ravana Phadi cave, the Meguti Jain temple, the Suryanarayana temple, the Konti temple complex, the Uma Maheshwari temple, the Huchimalli (gudi) temple, the Galaganatha group of temples, etc.
Pattadakal or Paṭṭadakallu is a World Heritage site that has 10 major temples built in the early Chalukyan architectural style. Situated at a distance of 134 km from Bijapur, this village is home to the 8th century monuments that represent both the Dravidian and the Nagara styles of temple architecture.
The Virupaksha temple, the Sangameshwara temple, the Chandrashekhara temple, the Mallikarjuna temple, the Kasivisvesvara temple, the Galaganatha temple, the Kadasiddhesvara temple and the Jambulingeswara temple are some of the structures worth visiting in Pattadakal.
Badami is a town that is situated at a distance of about 120 km from Bijapur. It was the capital of the Badami Chalukyas from 540 AD to 757 AD. Badami is famous for its rock-cut cave temples that represent the Indian rock-cut architectural style. It is also known for its red sandstone cliffs that resemble the Wild West.
The main attractions of Badami include the four sandstone cave temples, the Badami Fort, the Dattatreya temple, the Jambhulinga temple, the temple of Banashankari, the Mallikarjuna temple, etc.
Best time to visit Bijapur
The best time to visit Bijapur is between the months of September and February when the weather remains pleasant.
How to reach Bijapur
Bijapur is a tourist destination that is accessible by several means of transport.
The nearest airport to reach Bijapur is located at Belgaum. It is at a distance of about 205 km from Bijapur. Cabs can be hired to reach Bijapur from Belgaum.
Bijapur is well connected by the rail network. Dantewada Railway Station is Bijapur’s own railhead and is located just 2 km from the main town. There are trains that connect it to various cities of the country, including Bangalore, Mumbai, Hyderabad, etc.
There are frequent buses that connect Bijapur to towns and cities like Bangalore, Belgaum, Badami, Gulbarga, Hubli, etc.