Dome Diaries Navigator – Prologue  ||  Part I  ||  Part II  ||  Part III  ||  Epilogue

Introduction:

With more than hundred domes of all sizes (the largest of them is 44 mts in diameter, you read that right!), Bijapur is called the “City of Domes”. Of all the structures, the most imposing, intriguing and fascinating are the mausoleums of Ibrahim Adil Shah II and Mohammed Adil Shah, namely Ibrahim Rouza and Gol Gumbaz, respectively. Looks like these Sultans who reigned over Bijapur during its most prosperous period had their mortal life sorted, so they focused more on making their permanent resting places (read tombs) worth staying for a really long long time.

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Image: Ibrahim Rouza and the mosque in Bijapur, Karnataka, India under the pre-monsoon cotton candies, as seen from the entrance

Wait! That’s just two tombs. What is half a tomb? Read on, and you will find out.

TOMB I: Ibrahim Rouza

Ibrahim Rouza was originally commissioned by Ibrahim Adil Shah II as a mausoleum for his beloved queen consort, Taj Sultana, at least half a century before the “monument of love”. That’s right! The Sultan probably laid the foundation of the idea to dedicate grand mausoleums to consorts, which culminated in the grandest of them all, the Taj Mahal in Agra. Although he commissioned the mausoleum for his queen, it was Ibrahim Adil Shah II who died first, and was eventually buried there. Hence, it is named after him, Ibrahim Rouza. It is widely believed that Ibrahim Rouza was the inspiration behind Taj Mahal.

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Image: Ibrahim Rouza in Bijapur, Karnataka, India, as seen up close 

Designed by Persian architect Malik Sandal, this magnificently ornate structure is built of dark grey basalt till the base of the dome. The dome is made of brick and mortar. What makes Ibrahim Rouza stunning is not what is visible from far away, but what is visible from up close. Its walls are filled with fine calligraphy in Arabic, mainly religious. The top portions of the windows also have religious calligraphy in Arabic, but in the form of lattice work on stone. The workers who created these masterpieces would have to be expert craftsmen in lattice work, as well as well-versed with religious scriptures and Arabic.

TOMB II: Gol Gumbaz

Also designed as a mausoleum by Malik Sandal for Mohammed Adil Shah, son of Ibrahim Adil Shah II, at more than seven storeys high Gol Gambuz is the most iconic structure of Bijapur, and the second largest freestanding dome in the world, measuring 44 meters in diameter. The location was chosen for this grand structure because the builders could use a very large basalt as a foundation for this imposing structure. It is said that it took 20,000 men, 23 years to build Gol Gumbaz.

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Image: Gol Gumbaz, the most iconic structure in Bijapur, Karnataka, India

The technique they used here is interesting – perpendicularly overlapping squares as the base, intersecting arches using interlocking stones till the base of the dome, brick mortar on an wooden false structure for the dome, and the wooden structure was removed once the dome was complete. The thickness of the walls on the ground level is about 15 feets, at the base of the dome it is 10 feets, and the width of the dome itself is 9 feets.

HALF A TOMB: Barakamaan

Inspired by his grandfather and father’s mausoleums, Ali Adil Shah II went about starting the work on his mausoleum. Actually planned to be more than twelve storeys high (and hence the name Barakamaan – Bara means twelve and Kamaan means arch) when complete, this structure would have dwarfed the Gol Gumbaz, and could have claimed to be the largest freestanding dome in the world.

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Image: The arches of Barakamaan in Bijapur, Karnataka, India

Constant power struggle with the Marathas and pressure from the Mughals meant Ali Adil Shah II could not make available all the resources that this mega structure would need to be completed. And as luck would have it, he would die with his mausoleum still unfinished and would be buried there. As he was the last Sultan of Bijapur to die independent, he would continue to lay under the open skies for eternity.

And other things..

Apart from the two and a half tombs, Bijapur also has two palaces – Gagan Mahal and Asar Mahal built by Ali Adil Shah I and Mohammed Adil Shah, respectively. Built in Persian style, these palaces are much less ornamental than the Adil Shahi mausoleums. Usually two stories high, the roofs were supported by wooden beams, made of teak wood. One such beam can be seen lying beside the Asar Mahal. It is said that the last Adil Shahi Sultan, Sikander Adil Shah surrendered in front of Aurangzeb in Gagan Mahal.

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Image: Asar Mahal in Bijapur, Karnataka, India

The initial Adil Shahi rulers mostly followed Shia Islam, until Ibrahim Adil Shah II converted to Sunni Islam in 1552. His father Ali Adil Shah I had built the Jama Masjid, the Mehraab of which was redecorated with gold paintings by his son Mohammed Adil Shah, and is still one of the most decorated Mehraabs in India. The mosque was built to be used for prayers on special occasions. Given that Adil Shah I was born a Sunni but converted to Shia during later years, the Jama mosque did not have an eastern gate, as is the Sunni practice. The eastern gate was a later addition.

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Image: A guide explains its history to visitors in front of the beautiful Mehraab of Jama Masjid in Bijapur, Karnataka, India

Ali Adil Shah I is also credited with building the citadel and the fort, among other things, especially in the post Talikota period. It was during his reign, and reigns of his adopted son Ibrahim Adil Shah II and Mohammed Adil Shah, Bijapur got its iconic buildings. It was a period when Bijapur bloomed, before fading away in the pages of history.

END OF PART III

Dome Diaries Navigator – Prologue  ||  Part I  ||  Part II  ||  Part III  ||  Epilogue

In frame (in order of appearance): 1)  Ibrahim Rouza and the mosque in Bijapur, Karnataka, India under the pre-monsoon cotton candies, as seen from the entrance.

2) Ibrahim Rouza in Bijapur, Karnataka, India, as seen up close. It is also called the “Black Taj” or the “Taj of Deccan”.

3) Gol Gumbaz, the most iconic structure in Bijapur, Karnataka, India. It is the second largest freestanding dome in the world, measuring 44 meters at diameter.

4) The arches of Barakamaan in Bijapur, Karnataka, India. It was planned to be the much bigger than Gol Gumbaz, and could have claimed the distinction of being the largest freestanding dome in the world. But fate had other plans.

5) Asar Mahal in Bijapur, Karnataka, India. Unlike their mausoleums, the Sultans’ palaces were very simple two storeyed structures.

6) A guide explains its history to visitors in front of the beautiful Mehraab of Jama Masjid in Bijapur, Karnataka, India, which was redecorated in its current golden paint on orders of Mohammed Adil Shah.

VERY IMPORTANT TO NOTE: Yes, you can share this work with proper attribution. But, please seek permission before using this work (not including the photo), partially or fully. YOU CAN NOT USE THE PHOTO. Believe me, asking is better than ending up in court or facing public shaming on social media. Thanks for understanding.

© Amrit Panigrahy. All rights reserved.

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Written by Amrit Panigrahy

Amrit is a freelance photographer and a storyteller.

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