Note: Click on the photos in this article to view the photos at their original resolutions, taken with a 16-22 mm lens. For more realism, view the videos at 720p.

 

August 15th, 2011 AD:

“STOP! STOP! STOP!” cried Neal, as realization suddenly dawned on him. He had finally found what he had been looking for; and he had found it now when he wasn’t even looking for it. The local people had scratched their heads in bewilderment on being asked about it, and even the internet hadn’t been very helpful this time…

Most people think time is like a river, that flows swift and sure in one direction. But I have seen the face of time, and I can tell you, they are wrong. Time is an ocean in a storm. You may wonder who I am and why I say this. Sit down, and I will tell you a tale like none that you have ever heard…” – Prince of Persia

521 years after the Adil Shahi dynasty began their rule over Bijapur

It was the morning of August 13, 2011 AD, and after travelling for nearly 12 hours in a bus infested with loud snorers; Neal finally reached Bijapur, Karnataka. As he alighted from the bus, he was welcomed, with a grunt, by 2 wild boars (or pigs). The time was 1000 hours IST when Neal got into an auto-rickshaw and began his tour of Bijapur.

The City of Bijapur

As the auto moved through the city, Neal observed his surroundings, and he realized that boars are to Bijapur what dogs are to Bangalore. After looking at numerous boars, Neal (who had been fascinated when he had first seen a boar at K.Gudi) didn’t find them too appealing as they swam in all the mud-puddles around the city.

Gol Gumbaz (Round Dome)

The first stop was the Gol Gumbaz, the mausoleum of Mohammad Adil Shah (1627–55) of the Adil Shahi dynasty of Indian sultans, who ruled the Sultanate of Bijapur from 1490 to 1686. As soon as the structure fell in Neal’s line of vision, he was impressed, especially with the dome. But he hadn’t seen (or heard) the best part yet. The moment he entered the Gol Gumbaz, a creepy feeling came over him. The reason for this change was the continuous echoes of howls, etc., coming from above.

The Mausoleum

He would only encounter that after climbing barefoot over a hundred, unlit, badly-designed stone steps. But the climb was worthwhile, for, now, he had entered a whispering gallery, which left him completely spellbound. He shouted and howled, and was fascinated by the echoes produced. Lucky for him the gallery wasn’t crowded. Apart from that, he was amazed when he found out that he could hear a person whispering from across the gallery, just as if the person was actually standing beside him. “So this is what the folks of the past used instead of mobile phones,” thought Neal to himself. The scientific design and the concept were marvelous!

Drain

Coming out from the gallery, he could see the city of Bijapur below him. The strength of the breeze was tremendous (and he would find out later that the breeze blew the same way in the other monuments around Bijapur). On his way down, he found many hidden tunnels and dark passages that had been locked with modern gates, to prevent visitors from entering. Later, Neal found out that many of those tunnels led into the depths of the Gol Gumbaz, and once inside, one would find it extremely difficult to escape… The ground floor of the monument had drains cut in stone. Peering into one of them, he could see a huge, dark chamber. Unfortunately, access to the depths below wasn’t granted to visitors, so the mystery of what lay beneath remained in Neal’s mind…

Jumma Masjid

Neal’s next stop was the Jumma Masjid, built in 1686 AD, during the rule of Adil Shah I, and probably one of the oldest and largest mosques in the Deccan.

Malik-e-Maidan

After a meal of Jolada Rotis at Kamat Hotel nearby, Neal continued on his way to the Sherzah Burj (a bastion) facing west towards the plains outside the city, on which was placed the Malik-e-Maidan (The Master of the war front) – Weighing close to 55 tons, the cannon has a nozzle that is fashioned into the shape of a lion’s head with open jaws and between the carved fangs is depicted an elephant being crushed to death, and an inscription on top of it. From this bastion, Neal could see the wall (now almost in ruins) that enclosed the city, with something like a moat in front. There were grooves on a platform above that of the cannon’s, and Neal was informed that these had been used to rotate the cannon in the days of yore.

Upli Buruj

From this bastion, Neal caught a glimpse of a Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj in the middle of a road nearby, and the Upli Buruj, which was the next place on his agenda. Built around 1584 by Hyder Khan, this tower had two huge cannons on top, with a spiral staircase leading to it. At the top, Neal found children walking on the cannons and running helter-skelter, but the view from the top was wonderful.

Chand Bawdi

From here, Neal headed to Chand Bawdi, a water tank built by Ali Adil Shah and named after his wife “Chand Bibi”, to store 20 million litres of water. Unfortunately, a lot of garbage lay on the surface of the water. It was here that Neal was greeted by five cute little children, who were fascinated by the camera he held in his hands. They pleaded for a photo, and he obliged. A man, who was nearby, saw this, and thinking that Neal didn’t know Hindi, told those children, “The government will use his photos and throw you all into jail,” and they all had a good laugh over it. When they found out that Neal did know their language, he learned that they were studying in the 4th, 5th, and 7th grades and that day was a holiday (It was Raksha Bandhan). After that, they continued what they had been doing before Neal had come along, namely, playing cricket with the bark of a tree and a broken plastic bottle…

Ibrahim Rouza

After this, Neal made his way to Ibrahim Rauza, a structure containing a mosque and the tomb of Ibrahim Adil Shah II and the structure that was rumoured to be the inspiration for the Taj Mahal. The afternoon Sun had heated the stones outside, and after Neal ran as if his feet were on fire, he reached the room containing the tombs of Ibrahim Adil Shah II and his relatives. Feeling exhausted, he sat near one of the windows and had a short nap (if sleeping for five minutes could be termed a “nap”).

Lord Shiva

After his nap, Neal headed to a 26 metre tall Lord Shiva statue. The height of the statue was breathtaking, and in the brightness of the Sun, appeared to be floating in air.

Neal’s last stop for the day was Bara Kaman (Twelve Arches), the unfinished mausoleum of Ali Adil Shah II.

Barakaman

The reason for this structure remaining incomplete remains unknown, but a few days later, Neal found this website: http://diksoochi.blogspot.com/2006/12/trip-to-bijapur-bara-kaman.html . Neal lay down on a spot close to the tombs with the arches towering over him and the glare of the Sun on his face. He wondered how this structure would have looked had it been completed. Would it have been as magnificent as the Gol Gumbaz? Perhaps, he would never know…

It was now growing dark and Neal had to head to his hotel to get a good night’s sleep and prepare for the journey the next day.

To be continued…

Note: The photos and videos in this article are the exclusive property of Jinkchak and The 21st Century Me…yeah ME! Production Company. All Rights Reserved.

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