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Gol Gumbaz Bijapur: A Historical Place You Must Explore

8 mins. read

Cover photo by Bishnu Sarangi

A destination that you will find featured prominently in many Bijapur tour packages, the Gol Gumbaz is not just a mausoleum as it stands testament to the splendour of the Adil Shahi rule in Southern India. The Gol Gumbaz in Bijapur displays the art and architectural features of a bygone era and is one of the most well-known mausoleums in India. Also known as the Gol Ghumat, the imposing structure is maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India and attracts numerous visitors from India and abroad who come to witness the spellbinding architecture and unique acoustic features of the monument. The Gol Ghumat in Bijapur is also counted amongst the most dominating Muslim monuments in the South of India.

The History of the Gol Gumbaz in Bijapur, Karnataka

Mohammed Adil Shah ruled Bijapur in the 17th century. In 1626, when he had just ascended the throne, Adil Shah decided that he wanted to build himself a mausoleum that was bigger and grander than the memorial for his father and began constructing the Gol Gumbaz. However, it was 30 years later in 1656, after Mohammed Adil Shah had taken his last breath, that the structure was finally completed. It is said that after St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, the Gol Gumbaz is the biggest dome in this world, a fact which helped this splendid monument become quite well-known throughout history. The Bijapur Gol Gumbaz houses the mortal remains of the Sultan, his two wives Taj Jahan Begum and Aroos Bibi, his daughter, grandson, and his mistress Rambha.

The Art and Architectural Features of the Gol Gumbaz in Bijapur

The Gol Gumbaz, or the Gol Ghumat, is one of the finest examples of the Deccan Indo-Islamic style of architecture. Covering an area of 18000 sq. ft., the mausoleum is also one of the world’s largest single-chamber spaces. The Gol Ghumat of Bijapur was designed by Yaqut of Dabul and has been built using dark grey basalt. Reaching a height of 51 metres, Bijapur ka Gol Gumbaz (the Gol Gumbaz of Bijapur) has four seven-storey high dome-capped towers adorning its four sides.

When visitors enter the main mausoleum hall at Bijapur’s Gol Ghumat, they will be able to see a square podium covered by an intricately carved wooden canopy. In the middle of the podium is a cenotaph slab that marks the actual tomb of the Sultan, Mohammed Adil Shah.

Bijapur ka Gol Ghumat is also well known for the fact that the giant structure stands tall and proud even though it has no pillars or towers to support its huge dome. The dome is nothing less than an architectural marvel and is held up from the inside by eight intersecting arches.

Bijapur Ka Gol Ghumat and its Whispering Gallery

When you walk into an old monument, hearing a faint echo of your voice is quite common given the size and bareness of the complex. However, when it comes to Bijapur ka Gol Ghumat, this occurrence transforms into a full-blown phenomenon in the whispering gallery. The gallery runs around the inner periphery of the dome and any sound that is made here, even if it is a whisper, is amplified by the unique structure, which can carry it across a distance of up to 40 metres. Not only will you be able to hear a whisper from the other side of the monument, but the impressive acoustics of the Bijapur Gol Ghumat will create an echo that repeats the sound 7-10 times.

Exploring Bijapur Ka Gol Gumbaz

The Gol Gumbaz is located about 10 hours away from Bangalore and the nearest airport is in Belgaum (200 km away). You can reach the Gol Gumbaz in Bijapur, Karnataka by a Bangalore to Bijapur train or bus.

The mausoleum is surrounded by a sprawling green compound that also has other attractions that you can check out when you explore the place. In the same complex as Bijapur ka Gol Gumbaz, you can find ornamental gardens, a Dharamshala, mosque, Nakkar Khana (drum house), and a museum that displays numerous interesting items like Chinese parchment, carpets, and more.

The Nakkar Khana at the Bijapur Gol Ghumat

Again located in the same complex, the Nakkar Khana is also called the drum house. It is believed that the Nakkar Khana was built to offer a grand and royal welcome to the king’s visitors to the Bijapur Gol Gumbaz by beating drums. This was an age-old tradition that was followed during the reception of royal guests. Before the entire complex came under the jurisdiction of the ASI in 1962, the British converted the drum house into a museum to store old artefacts. In 1912, it came under the control of the District collectorate and is one of the oldest museums in India.

Some Interesting Facts about the Gol Ghumat in Bijapur

  • The name “Gol Gumbaz” has been derived from “Gola Gombadh” or “Gol Gomata”, which literally translates to the circular dome.
  • Each of the four octagonal towers around the Bijapur Gol Ghumat has stairs that lead to a gallery at the top. You can get beautiful panoramic views of Bijapur from the towers.
  • There is a stone that hangs over the main entrance of the mausoleum. This stone is called the “Bijli Pathar” (Lightning Stone). This is actually a meteorite that had crashed onto earth during the Sultan’s reign. It was believed that the stone protects the Gol Gumbaz in Bijapur from lightning strikes.
  • Running between Mysore and Solapur and passing via Bijapur is the Gol Gumbaz Express, a train which has been named after this very monument.
  • The monument is sometimes also referred to as the Taj Mahal of South India or the Black Taj Mahal. This is attributed to the fact that its architecture was inspired by the Taj Mahal in Agra.

The Best Time to Visit Bijapur and the Gol Gumbaz

During the summers, the region tends to get very hot and dry which does not make for very comfortable weather to enjoy sightseeing. The monsoons can be a good time to tour the Bijapur Gol Gumbaz but the heavy rains may still put a damper on your plans. That being said, during the months from October to the end of March, the state experiences temperatures ranging from 20 to 30° C. The pleasant weather can elevate your Bijapur Gol Ghumat sightseeing experience even further.

You do not have to be an architecture enthusiast to appreciate the splendour of this popular mausoleum. One of the best places to visit in Bijapur, the Gol Gumbaz is definitely worth including in your itinerary. You can also book tickets to the Bijapur Gol Ghumat online and plan a trip to this small town in Karnataka that promises a close rendezvous with art and history.

March 23, 2021

Author

Veena World
Veena World

We are an Indian travel company founded in 2013 and excel at domestic and international tour packages including guided group tours, specialty tours, customized holidays, corporate MICE travel, inbound travel and destination weddings.

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