We were struggling with where to go after Hampi, we knew we wanted to head north but our options for going to Pune directly involved night buses and we didn’t fancy travelling that far by night which we didn’t think was going to involve much sleep and we wouldn’t see any of the countryside. So we decided to take the local bus and head five hours down the road to Bijapur.
The journey to Bijapur was through some of the driest land we have seen and when we got off the bus and made our way to the hotel the dust was so thick in the air that it got stuck in our throats. We were also receiving an abnormally large amount of stares from the locals which caused us to think that there weren’t a large amount of westerners coming here. It was so hot and dusty that we couldn’t really get out to explore so took haven in our room and decided to wait until the morning when it was a bit cooler.
Bijapur has a highly Islamic history and influence and so most of its sights are Islamic. Golgumbaz mausoleum was just down the road from our hotel so we decided to start our exploration there. It was a truly colossal building and as we got nearer we were quite amazed by its size and beauty. It’s dome is second in size to St Peter’s Basilica in Rome and we were able to climb up some stairs to enter in the top of it.
The interior of the mausoleum was plain but impressive due to its size. Once we got onto the roof though we were able to enjoy close up the intricacies of the decorations of the roof top. The highlight of Golgumbaz is the acoustic features of the dome. We sat on either side of the huge dome, some 38m apart, and were able to hear each other’s whispers!! Unfortunately we weren’t alone in this experimenting and most of the others visiting enjoyed shouting to each other and the whole effect in the end was quite surreal.
A short rickshaw ride away was Ibrahim Rouza and as soon as we walked in the gates we were spellbound. It’s 24m high minarets are thought to have inspired the ones built on the Taj Mahal and the whole thing just left us speechless. It was truly a wondrous sight and as we walked closer and closer the detail in the design became more apparent and we were amazed even further.
What’s more there was hardly anyone there so we were able to take our time wandering around enjoying the place and it’s certainly a sight I will never forget. The only way to describe its beauty is with pictures and I am not sure that they even do it justice.
Well we were certainly very glad that we had made the detour to Bijapur but still had a bit of time left to explore the rest of the town. The place was scattered with Islamic buildings dating back to the 1400s and we got to wander passed another couple of mausoleums before we ended up in the old fortifications of the town. The ruins are dominated by a huge gateway of Gagan Mahal and in the park in front of it people relaxed on the grass in the shade. While they were impressive sights they didn’t really compare to the magnificence of the first two buildings we had seen.
The temperature was rising and we hopped in another rickshaw to stop off at the Jama Masjid mosque which again dated back to the 1500s and was absolutely huge. There was space for over 2000 people to pray at the same time and we were welcomed to come and have a look inside. It was fascinating to see the process of washing feet and hands before entering the mosque and while we were standing there watching what was going on a kind man approached us and generously explained the prayer process to us and gave us an impromptu tour of he place. The kindness of Indians never ceases to amaze us we have rarely felt so welcome anywhere.
So feeling culturally and spiritually enhanced we had to escape the rest of the heat for the afternoon by retiring to our room and relaxing under the fan.
My memories of Bijapur will always be of the fantastic Islamic buildings we saw but there will also be strong memories of the incredible dust and heat of the place. The town, while it contains plenty of tourist sights, could not be described as a tourist town. It is fairly run down but certainly has a lot of energy and crazy traffic but is certainly not the nicest of looking places. The streets were’t lined with restaurants and hotels in fact ours was one of only four available for online booking! It’s a shame more people don’t come here because the frantic energy of India is on show right in amongst some amazing sights. So glad we came! T
The Golgumbaz Mausoleum
The view down from the top of the dome.
The bench on the other side from which we could hear each other as if we were sat on the same bench.
Beautiful decorations at the top of the mausoleum.
The Ibrahim Rouza. What a truly magnificent sight.
The intricacies were etched all over the buildings.
The spires which inspired the Taj Mahal.
Beautiful archways in the building’s interior.
The colossal archway of Gaga Mahal.
This guy stopped us and asked for us to take his photo. He didn’t want any money he just wanted to see his photo on the camera screen. After he saw it he just started laughing and thanked us and walked off. Brilliant.
The Jama Masjid mosque and below the feet and hand washing prior to prayer.