Bijapur, the islamic art pearl in North Karnataka
This post is also available in: French
Bijapur is not exactly the first tourist attraction you’ll hear about in India. Lost in North Karnataka, far away from any big city and from any traditional tourist trail, you have to be a history buff or to have been living here for a while to plan a trip there.
Bijapur has a lot to show if you’re a little bit interested in history and architecture. Capital city of one of the Deccan Sultanates during the 16th century it used to be an international, commercial and cultural hub. From this golden age remain many heritage sites including one mausoleum made of the second largest dome in the world! (after St Peter of Rome).
After an overnight train trip as we like them, we discovered Bijapur, at first glance a dusty big village like any others in India (in this case the “village” was hosting 300 000 inhabitants!). The difference here, is that behind the usual xerox shops (“zerox” in the case of Bijapur to respect the local pronunciation), “family-restaurants” and other shops of all trades, rise signs of an history too big for this common city: domes of mausoleums or mosques, citadel walls, watch towers, archs and monumental city gates.
We discovered here a delicate Islamic heritage, sometimes even imposing, specially in the case of the Gol Gumbaz, a dome with extraordinary proportions and an amazing sound reverberation (which is entertaining the local tourists big time as they scream here continuously).
More than anywhere else, we quickly felt that foreign tourists were pretty rare (we didn’t meet any during the week-end!) so we were the object of non-stop requests for a picture and the usual “which-country-what-is-your-name” from locals. Fun at the beginning, that’s quite exhausting after a while but that’s unavoidable when travelling in small towns of India.
Next time, we’ll visit Bidar, an other Sultanate past capital-city, closer to Hyderabad.