Bijapur in Karnataka was the headquarters of the Adil Shahi dynasty after the founder Adil Shah whose reign is considered as the golden period of Bijapur. A landmark victory over the Vijayanagar Empire in the Battle of Talikota led to the rise of Bijapur as one of the most powerful dynasties in the Deccan. The Jama masjid had been built to commemorate that victory.
The citadel, halls, passages and gardens still seem like frozen in time.The architecture of this fort is unique as it is a fusion of many prevalent styles. The tomb of Ibrahim Adil Shah II (1586 - 1626) is one of the major attractions of the fort. The Bijapur fort still stands today with all its historical importance as one of the most impressive forts in Karnataka.
The Bijapur Fort is located in the Bijapur city in Bijapur District, Karnataka. Bijapur fort has a plethora of historical monuments of architectural importance built during the rule of Adil Shahi dynasty.
The Adil Shahi Sultans who ruled for nearly 200 years in Bijapur had expended their utmost authority, almost exclusively, on architecture and the allied arts, each Sultan endeavored to excel his predecessor in the number, size, or splendor of his building projects. As a result, the buildings seen in and around Bijapur Fort and the town have been rightly called as the Agra of South India.
The fort precinct is studded with the historical fort, palaces, mosques, tombs and gardens built by the Adil Shahis with their deep interest in architecture (in Persian, Ottoman Turkish and the allied arts. Some ruins of ancient temples, predating the Adilshahi period, are also seen. The most striking structures, in the order of their importance, are the Citadel or Arkilla, the Jamia Masjid (or Jumma masjid), the Gagan Mahal palace, the tomb of Ali Rauza or Ibrahim Roza (tomb of Ibrahim Adil Shah I), Chand Bawdi or Taj Bavdi (a large well), Mahatar Mahal (Dilkusha Mahal), Malikah-e-Jahan Mosque, Jal Mahal, and also an innocuous well in the vicinity of the fort with a legend of a tragedy linked to a brave but jealous general of the dynasty. It is said that the Adilshahis, during their reign of 200 years, built over 50 mosques, 20 tombs and 20 palaces. Bijapur has, therefore, been called as Agra of South India.
Apart from these monuments, Ibrahim II also built the Dattatreya Temple, to the west of the citadel. It contains a pair of paduka (foot sandals) of saint Narasimha Saraswati.
Jamia Masjid located in the south east part of the city, the largest mosque of Bijapur, was started in 1565, but not fully completed. It has an arcaded prayer hall with fine aisles supported on massive piers and has an impressive dome in the fa-ade which has nine bays. The large courtyard also has a water tank. It is called the Jami masjid or Jumma Masjid as Qutba is read here every Friday. The masjid spreads over an area of 10,810 square metres (116,400 sq ft). The mosque building is in a rectangular shape of size 170 metres (560 ft) x 70 metres (230 ft). The fa-ade depicts nine large arches with five inner arches enclosing 45 compartments; the building is incomplete as two minarets are missing or not built. The dome is semicircular in shape. In 1636, the arched shaped mehrab in the mosque was gilded and inscribed with Persian verses, at the instance of Muhammad Adil Shah. Another interesting feature is the 2250 inlaid rectangular tiles in the form of prayer rugs seen in the prayer hall. The tiles were laid at the orders of the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb. Aurangzeb also got the mosque extended with an eastern gate and verandahs to the east, the south and the north.
Ibrahim Rauza ('Rauza' means "tomb") also known as Ali Rauza, built in 1627, contains the tomb of Ibrahim Adil Shah II and his queen Taj Sultana. It was originally intended to be the tomb for the queen. It is a fine square structure with twin buildings with delicate carvings. It was designed by the Persian architect, Malik Sandal (his grave also lies in the courtyard). The tomb (of Ibrahim Adil Shah II, his two sons and his mother) on the left and a mosque on the right within it are set in a walled garden (about 140 metres (460 ft) square) facing each other over an ornamental pond. The tomb as such is in a central chamber of 13 metres (43 ft) square and has a ceiling that is divided into nine squares with curved sides. Graceful minarets mark the corners of each symmetrical building, surmounted by a dome rising from a lotus petal base. Steps are provided to approach the raised platform on which the two structures have been built. It is said that this tomb provided the inspiration for building the Taj Mahal at Agra. The structure has been erected on a single rock slab and has a basement, which was used to store ammunitions and food. In the prayer hall in the mosque, there are two chains carved out of a single rock. It has impressive gateways. The doors are made of teak wood braced with metal strips and decorated. The inner perimeter of the Mausoleum has well crafted arches. The outer walls of the tomb have panels displaying geometric and calligraphic designs in the form of perforated screens and shallow relief. The windows and doors also have similar motifs, which allow light to penetrate into the tomb chamber. A special acoustic feature of the mosque mentioned is that standing next to grave of the Sultan inside the tomb at one end, prayers can be distinctly heard at the other end. Impressed by its architectural splendour, Henry Cousens, an expert in Art and Architecture called it the "Taj Mahal of the South".
Though modestly sized, Mehtar Mahal dated to 1620 is one of the most elegant structures in the fort; the entry gate in particular has been built in Indo-Saracenic style. The fa-ade has three arches, which depict exquisite "cornice supported on carved corbels". A gateway leads to the Mehtar mosque, which is a three-storey building. It has two slender minarets that are covered with delicately carved birds and rows of swans. The carvings are in Hindu architectural style, in the form of brackets supporting the balconies and stone trellis work. The building has a flat roof and minarets have rounded top.
Barakaman (meaning 12 arches) is a mausoleum of Ali Roza built in 1672. It is located to the north of the citadel and the Gagan Mahal, in the midst of a public garden. It was initially called as Ali Roza, but Shah Nawab Khan changed its name to Bara Kaman, as this was the 12th monument built during his reign and was planned with 12 arches. It is a 215 feet (66 m) square building built on a raised platform. It has now seven arches built of brown basaltic stone, in Gothic style. The tomb is in an inner raised enclosure, which contains the graves of Ali, queens and eleven other ladies, possibly belonging to the Zenana of the queens.
The Malik-i-Maidan (Master of the Battlefield), also called Burj-E-Sherz, was erected by Ibrahim Adil Shah II. It was named after the Battle of Talikota of 1565 in which the Vijayangar empire was routed. It is now located in the fort on its western ramparts between two bastions. It has a large cannon, 4.45 metres (14.6 ft) long and 1.5 metres (4.9 ft) in diameter with a 700 millimetres (28 in) bore. The cannon weighs 55 tonnes and is considered one of the largest forged medieval guns. The unusual feature of the gun is that its muzzle is shaped in the form of a lion head with carved open jaws as if devouring an elephant (depicted between the jaws). The gun is cool when touched even during hot summer season and when tapped gives soft resonating sound. It is said that touching it brings good luck. From the inscriptions on the gun position, it is deduced that the gun was cast in 1549 at Ahmadnagar from bell metal by Muhammad Bin Husain Rumi. Another inscription records that Aurangzeb conquered Bijapur in 1685-86. It is also said that the large weight of the canon discouraged the British from carrying it as a trophy to England.
Gagan Mahal or Heavenly Palace was built by Ali Adil Shah I in 1561 as a royal palace with a durbar hall. It has three impressive arches and the central arch is the widest. The durbar hall was located in the ground floor while the first floor was built as the private residence of the royal family. But both floors are now in ruins. The fa-ade of the palace has three arches; the central arch, which is the largest of the three, is 20 metres (66 ft) long and 17 metres (56 ft)in height.
Sat Manzili was originally a seven-storeyed palace but now only five floors exist. It is conjectured that it was a pleasure pavilion built in 1583 during the reign of Ibrahim II Adil Shah.
Asar Mahal or palace was constructed in 1646 by the Adil Shahis. It is located to the east of the citadel. A bridge connects it and it is well preserved. It also known as Dad Mahal since it was initially used as hall of justice. It was later converted as reliquary and has become a highly revered place since it is said to hold two hairs from the beard of Prophet Mohammed. The portico has impressive wooden columns (four numbers of octagonal shape) and is double the normal height and has wooden panelled ceiling. It faces an artificial lake. The walls and ceiling of the hall display landscape paintings. Women are prohibited from entering this Mahal.
Taj Bawdi is a water reservoir that was built to commemorate Taj Sultana, Ibrahim II 's first wife. The entrance arch is very impressive and has two octagonal towers; the east & west wings of the two towers were used as rest houses.
Siege of Bijapur
The Siege of Bijapur began in March 1685 and ended in September 1686 with a Mughal victory. The siege began when the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb dispatched his son Muhammad Azam Shah with a force of nearly 50,000 men to capture Bijapur Fort and defeat Sikandar Adil Shah, the then ruler of Bijapur who refused to be a vassal of the Mughal Empire. The Siege of Bijapur was among the longest military engagements by the Mughals, lasting more than 15 months until the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb personally arrived to organize a victory.
In 1685, the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb dispatched his son Muhammad Azam Shah alongside Ruhullah Khan the Mir Bakshi (organizer) with a force of nearly 50,000 men to capture Bijapur Fort. The Mughal Army arrived at Bijapur in March 1685. Elite Mughal Sowars led by Dilir Khan and Qasim Khan began to surround and capture crucial positions around Bijapur Fort. After the encirclement was complete Prince Muhammad Azam Shah initiated siege operations by positioning cannons around Bijapur Fort.
Bijapur Fort, however, was well-defended by 30,000 men led by Sikandar Adil Shah and his commander Sarza Khan. Attacks by Mughal cannon batteries were repulsed by the large and heavy Bijapur cannons such as the famous "Malik-i-Maidan", which fired cannonballs 69 cm in diameter. Instead of capturing territories on open ground, the Mughals dug long trenches and carefully placed their artillery but made no further advancements.
The Mughals could not cross through the deep 10-ft moat surrounding Bijapur Fort. Moreover, the 50-ft high 25-ft wide fine granite and lime mortar walls were almost impossible to breach. The situation for the Mughals worsened when Maratha forces led by Melgiri Pandit under Maratha Emperor Sambhaji had severed food, gunpowder and weapon supplies arriving from the Mughal garrison at Solapur. The Mughals were now struggling on both fronts and became overburdened by the ongoing siege against Adil Shahi and the roving Maratha forces. Things worsened when a Bijapuri cannonball struck a Mughal gunpowder position causing a massive explosion into the trenches that killed 500 infantrymen.
In response to their hardships, Aurangzeb sent his son Shah Alam and his celebrated Mughal commander Abdullah Khan Bahadur Firuz Jang. Unable to allow the collapse of the Mughal Army outside Bijapur Fort, the Mughal commander Ghazi ud-Din Khan Feroze Jung I led a massive expeditionary reinforcement force to alleviate the hardships of the Mughal Army and drive out the Maratha forces. Abdullah Khan Bahadur Firuz Jang, a highly experienced Mughal commander positioned at the outpost of Rasulpur, routed a 6,000-strong infantry contingent led by Pam Naik intended to carry supplies to Bijapur Fort during a night attack.
The Mughals regained control of supply routes leading to Solapur, but no successful advancement had been made into Bijapur Fort. The lengthy siege turned into a stalemate; therefore, the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb himself gathered a massive army in July 1686 and marched slowly towards Bijapur Fort. He finally arrived outside Bijapur Fort and established encampments beside Abdullah Khan Bahadur Firuz Jang on 4 September 1686. Aurangzeb personally rode out inspiring his army of almost a 100,000 men to begin a full-scale assault. After eight days of intense fighting, the Mughals had successfully damaged the five gates of Bijapur Fort and collapsed substantial portions of the fortified walls, thus enabling them to breach the moat and conquer the city. They captured Sikandar Adil Shah who was bound in silver chains and presented before the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb.