Monday, January 28, 2008


The pictures above: 1) Fort wall of Gagan Mahal 2) View of Golgumbad from Masjid side 3) Partial view of Jal Mandir from an arch of sath Manzil stairs 4)Pasari Kaman, a path-way leading to Asar Mahal

Bijapur in early 1960s was a small town with a population of about 50000. It is a district head quarter. Till 1956 before the reorganisation of states on linguistic basis, Bijapur was in Bombay state. Four districts—Bijapur, Belagavi, Dharwad and Uttar Karnatak—were called Bombay Karnatak. From 1956 till 1973 it was in Mysore State. The State was renamed as Karnataka in 1973.
The seat of Chalukya Dynasty was Badami and Bijapur was possibly part of the dynasty. It was a part of bahamani Kingdom. One historian writes that zafar Khan, the founder, had once been a slave of a Brahmin and hence the name Bahamani. Infact the word Bahmani comes from Persian word Bahaman, which means a nobleman. The Bahamani Kingdom broke into five Sultanates—Adil Shahi of Bijapur, Khutubshahi of Golkonda, Nizamshahi of Ahmadnagar Imad shahi of Raichur and Baridshhi of Bidar.

“The kings of Bijapur ruled from 1489 to 1688, when the kingdom was annexed by Auragzeb.Its founder, Yousuf Adilshah, is reputed to have been a son of Amurath II, and brother of Muhammad II, the Ottomon conquerer of Constatinople, who fled Persia when the brothers of the king were put to death, became a Mamluk slave at the court of Bahamani king, and finally a successful and intrepid general. ----------The ruins of Bijapur attest the greatness of that kingdom; they are of wide extent, and some of them still in great beauty. The exquisite proportions, profuse yet graceful ornament, and lace-like carvings of of the mausoleum of Ibrahim Adilshah excite the admiration of visitors familiar with the Taj and other masterpieces of Saracenic archtecture, while Sultan Mahmud reposes beneath the largest dome in the world, which crowns a suitably imposing mass of plain masonry. Archtects have fully described this wonderous work, astonished at a covered area of upwardds 18000 square feet, uninterrupted by supports. They compare it with the Pantheon, the next largest space covered by a single dome, and with St. Paul’s, with which it is contemporary. The buildings are of a widely different character, and all technicalities apart, the Bijapur dome may be described as resembling an inverted tea cup, while that of the Pantheon the form of an inverted saucer.” *

There are many monuments of Adilshahi period, famous among them are, Gol Gumbad, Jama Masjid and Ibrahim Roza. Apart from these three, there are many monuments like Malike Jahan Masjid, Mecca Masjid, Ali ka Roza Gagan Mahal, Anand, Mahal, Mehtar Maha, Asar Mahal, Jal Mandir and Taj Bowli. Collectorate, District session’s court and many offices are housed in Adilshhi palaces and the main feature of the palace is Sat Manzil. Each monument reminds you of the glory of the period.

There are many Durgahs of Sufi saints. Anniversaries known as urs take place. There is a tomb of Ganjul Uloom, said to the spiritual mentor of Kwaja Bandanawaz of Gulbarga. This tomb is desolate and unattended. Ganjul Uloom litarally means treasure of knowledge. Government boys’ high school has a huge play ground and at one end there is grave of Mulla Nasarati, considered first Urdu poet. The grave is on a huge platform and the grave is carved out of sinle granite. I always wondered why it was government girls’ high school and not government high school for girls. Similarly boys’ high school was government boys’ high school.
There was a prominantly located Laxmi temple, which was a temple of largely Brahmin community. I do not recollect seeing any Lingayat visiting that temple. I do not recollect having seen any temple of Krishna or Saraswati. During Deepavali there used to be lot of worshippers.
There was a huge Shivaling temple and here the devotees were only Lingayats. During Sankranti there used to be huge crowd of devotees. Devotees from almost all parts of District used to visit Bijapur for Pooja. The festivities would continue at least for a week. One important feature of this festival was cattle fare. Cattle were bought and sold. The main beneficiaries of this mela were the traders. Innumerable hawkers would throng the streets. The villagers used to buy their requirements from household items to toys for their children. Inspite of huge arrival of villagers no untoward activities or any mishap was reported and I believe nothing untoward really occurred. But traders did make their money. Innocence of village folk was financially exploited. The highlights of this festival were ‘bailata’ and fire works on the final day. Bailata literally means open air play. It used to start late in the evening and continue till wee hours. They were tearjerkers for the innocent villagers. There were only two cinema halls—Laxmi and Tripura Sundari. Throughout the year only Hindi films were shown but during this period both the halls showed only Kannada films. Kannada film making was in its infancy those days. I think the phenomenon called Raj Kumar was yet to arrive.

* Muhammadans in India, book prited and published by Ballanfyne, Hanson and Co. pages107-108.

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