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A provincial centre under the Bahamanis, Bijapur became the capital of an independent dynasty, the Adil Shahis for about 200 years. The period of greatest architectural and artistic achievement was late 16th and early 17th centuries, particularly under the rulers Ali I and Ibrahim II. While the most sophisticated buildings and miniatures were produced during Ibrahim II's reign, the most imposing monument, the Gol Gumbaz was built by his successor Muhammad I.

Ali I Rauza
This was the first royal mausoleum to be built in Bijapur, the earliest Adil Shahi rulers were buried in smaller graves outside the capital. Each side of the Ali I Rauza has five arches of which the three narrow arches at the centre are grouped together. The wide end arches correspond to the vaulted corridor around the tomb chamber. A narrow staircase on the north wall leads to the roof which has three small domes. The west courtyard has high granite tombstones.

Gagan Mahal
Only this imposing entrance facade remains from this audience hall built in the Ali I period. The high central arch is flanked by arches that lead to narrow staircases to the upper storey. The far wall has three arched recesses and a row of smaller arches at the base. The Mahal and nearby palaces form the royal centre of Bijapur and are surrounded by a moat and citadel walls.

Ibrahim Rauza
This mausoleum complex just outside the city was comissioned by Ibrahim II. The scheme consists of a mosque (right) and tomb (left) within a walled compound entered through an ornamental gateway. This and other buildings from Ibrahim's reign are marked by an elaborate style and exquisite sculptural detail.

Ibrahim Rauza: Mosque
Facing east towards the tomb, the facade of the mosque has five arches with elaborate plasterwork on the spandrels. Above them, a wide eave is supported by lotus brackets. Above the eave is an elaborate parapet composed of an ornamental screen with regularly spaced turrets. The high corner minarets are divided into stories and have an unusual cluster of colonnettes at the base. The spherical dome is raised on a high neck decorated with long petals. Both the mosque and the tomb are elevated on a common plinth in the middle of a formal garden.

Gol Gumbaz
This, one of the most impressive architectural achievements of the Deccan, is the mausoleum of Muhammad Adil Shah. The tomb is set in a large walled garden, in the Persian style. This path bisects the garden. On either side are ruins of buildings made of dark bricks.

Gol Gumbaz: Naqqar Khana
An ornamental gateway in front of the Gol Gumbaz. Its facade has two tiers of arches, a wide central projection and corner buttresses.

Gol Gumbaz: Decoration
On the exterior of the tomb are triple set of arched recesses like this one. Medallions in the arch spandrels rise on a sinuous bracket. Both medallion and bracket are filled with scrollwork. The rectangular recess above the arch probably held a granite calligraphy slab. Above this the wide eave has lotus brackets.

Gol Gumbaz: Tomb and Mosque
Both tomb and mosque stand on a wide plinth. The mosque facing east towards the tomb has a simple facade with five unequal arches, high corner minarets, and a hemispherical dome. An incomplete parapet shows that the tomb was left unfinished. A large half-octagonal bay projects from the west wall of the Gol Gumbaz, as seen here.

Gol Gumbaz: Corner minarets
The corner minarets of the Gol Gumbaz are simple, massive and elegant. Each of the seven arcaded stories have arched openings on each face with a projecting eave above. The minarets rise slightly above roof level and are topped by bulbous domes. The massive central dome of the Gumbaz however, dominates the setting.

Ali II Rauza
This structure, the tomb of Ali Adil Shah II, was intended to surpass all others. It remained unfinished except for this arcade of arches around the central tomb chamber. They stand on a plinth that measures larger than that of the Gol Gumbad. At the centre of the inner enclosure is the granite tomb of Ali Adil Shah II, placed on a raised platform.

Sherzah Burj
Part of the outer fortification of the city, this bastion is near the western approach. Sculpture panels on the walls show carved lions, roundels, and a shelf with with brackets. To the right is a small guard's room.

This massive cannon sits on top of the Sherzah Burj facing west towards the plains outside the city. Behind is another higher bastion, and further away the top of the Shahi Burj can be seen. The mouth of the Malik-e-Maidan is carved as a lion's face with an elephant in its jaws. On top of the cannon is an inscription commissioned by Aurangzeb.

Tomb and cricket match
This small tomb, set in a spacious walled compound, lies on the Jami Masjid Road. Its spherical dome is raised on a high octagonal drum with pairs of arches on each face. The simple but elegant facade consists of three arches, each with triple-arch openings along the middle.

Photos and Text © Amit Guha