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Stepped Tank of the Vijayanagara Empire in Hampi, Karnataka

Stepped Tank, Hampi from the Vijayanagara Empire

Archaeological Survey of India and the Karnataka State Department of Archaeology and Museums have been conducting archaeological excavations at Hampi for the past many years and have discovered many interesting structures and antiquities of the Vijayanagara Empire, not known so far.

The Vijayanagara empire of South India extended over a massive area and assimilated diverse ethnic, linguistic, socioeconomic and political groups. Beyond the majestic bounds, Vijayanagara was also part of multifaceted subcontinental political and cultural nexus, with cooperative and antagonistic relations with bordering states and empires.

During such an excavation in 1984-85, officers of the Archaeological Survey of India laid bare a beautiful tank that was completely under the surface of the soil and was not at all visible from the outer surface. This is perhaps the most beautiful stepped tank at Hampi discovered so far. Archaeologists have been dated to fifteenth century AD.

The tank built of stone is a square structure with five steps. The steps become smaller as they go down; thus the topmost step is the longest while the lower most is the smallest. From the top, the length of each side of the step is 20.7, 16.10, 12.65, 9.2 and 6.9 meters respectively. Each side has very attractive pyramidal shaped flight of steps to get into the next lower side. These steps are 9, 7, 5, 3 and 1 respectively in each side and thus the entire tank has one hundred steps. Each tier is 1.05 meters and the total depth is 6.65 meters. The base of the tank has stone slabs below that is sand to purify the water. The symmetry of the pyramidal shaped steps at each tier of the tank makes the structure unique and elegant. After the construction of this stepped tank, the engineers working at Hampi had made proper arrangements for the flow of fresh water into the tank. It is believed that this tank was used for religious purposes including the teppotsava of the deities.

That the project of reclaiming cultural legacies as part of a regional or national inheritance was informed by a series of complex considerations of both affective pleasure and identity politics, wherein the idea of a reinvented tradition assumed a certain significance, is now well known.

Another unique feature of this tank is the technique of its construction. Each stone used for the construction has numerals, symbols and Kannada letters on it. For example letters u, da, tu and pa represent north (uttara), south (dakshina), east (turpu), and west (paschima). In five stages there are 36 steps and each step has been assigned a Kannada letter beginning from tna upto jna and ti. In addition to these numerals and Kannada letters some symbols also have been used, according to the four directions. Another interesting feature is the mark of measurement through symbols. Thus the stepped tank (pushkarini) is not only beautiful and elegant but also supplies the technical methodology adopted by the architects to transplant it from the workshop to the spot of the tank.

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St. Louis Points of Interest: “There’s More than Meets the Arch”

St. Louis Points of Interest:

Here are just some of the hundreds of ways you can explore St. Louis, home of a thousand one-of-a-kind restaurants, an unrivaled music scene and cultural attractions known the world over:

  1. Ride 630 feet high to the top of the Gateway Arch. The Gateway Arch sits along the west bank of the Mississippi River. It is one of the most iconic monuments in the United States and takes its name from the city’s role as the “Gateway to the West” in the westward enlargement of the United States in the 19th century.
  2. The Gateway Arch of Saint Louis Follow the footsteps of explorers Lewis & Clark for the 200th anniversary of the Louisiana Purchase. The Louisiana Purchase is an 1803 agreement by which the United States bought from France that part of France’s North American empire roughly defined by the Missouri and Mississippi River watersheds. The deal doubled the size of the nation, creating what Thomas Jefferson termed an “empire for liberty.” Between 1804 and 1806, Captain Meriwether Lewis and Lieutenant William Clark explored the Louisiana Purchase and the Pacific Northwest. The expedition was a key chapter in the history of American exploration.
  3. Explore Forest Park—refurbished for the 100th anniversary of the 1904 World’s Fair. From May through December of 1904, St. Louis, Missouri presented the biggest World’s Fair ever conceived, with thousands of buildings and concessions stretched throughout a meticulously designed and methodically organized park landscape.
  4. Drive Old Route 66. The Mother Road makes some of its most fascinating stops in St. Louis.
  5. See some of St. Louis’ world-class free attractions, including the Art Museum, Zoo, Science Center and History Museum.
  6. Marvel at one of the world’s top gardens—the Missouri Botanical Garden. Also called Shaw’s Garden, this botanical garden is most notable for its Climatron, a geodesic-dome greenhouse in which 1,200 species of plants are grown under computer-controlled conditions simulating a rainforest.
  7. Free your inner child at the Magic House, City Museum and other kid-friendly attractions.
  8. Visit an ancient Indian civilization at Cahokia Mounds. Cahokia Mounds is an archaeological site occupying some 5 square miles (13 square km) on the Mississippi River floodplain opposite St. Louis, Missouri, near Cahokia and Collinsville, southwestern Illinois.
  9. Cheer for the St. Louis Cardinals, one of the most successful teams in baseball history or take a seat for exciting Rams football and Blues hockey games.
  10. Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis Count the mosaics at the beautiful Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis. The Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, a majestic, beloved landmark, will awe visitors who think they’ve seen all the great cathedrals. Its domed ceilings display the largest single assembly of mosaics in the world.
  11. The Blues were born here. Take a seat in one of the live music dubs to find out how good feelin bad can be.
  12. Hit the road at Gateway International Raceway, the Museum of Transportation and other automotive attractions.
  13. Visit the heart of St. Louis—our friendly and historic neighborhoods.
  14. Take a Gateway Art Tour by exploring the Saint Louis Art Museum, Laumeier Sculpture Park, the Contemporary Art Museum and the Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts.
  15. Discover the past at the historic Old Courthouse, the Black World History Museum and Faust Historic Village.
  16. Saint Louis Riverboat Casinos lirt with Lady Luck on one of the region’s five glittering riverboat casinos.
  17. Tour the home of the world’s largest brewer at the Anheuser-Busch Brewery. The brewary is a great place to hang out while waiting for a tour of the historic brewery to start or a place to spend a lazy summer afternoon. Throughout the year, guests will also find a full menu ranging from soups and salads, to burgers and sandwiches, to desserts and seasonal specials.
  18. Dine in some of St. Louis’ thousand one-of-a-kind restaurants.
  19. Fill an extra suitcase during a shopping trip through St. Louis’ major malls and antique and collectibles stores.
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The Architectural Beauty and Majestic of Ibrahim Rauza, Bijapur

The Architectural Beauty and Majestic of Ibrahim Rauza, Bijapur

The architectural styles developed by the Sultans of the Deccan plateau that are appreciated in Bijapur, Bidar, Gulbarga, and Hyderabad, are motivated from Persian and Turkish structures.

Ibrahim Adil Shah II ruled the kingdom of Bijapur from 1580 to 1627. He is reputed to be one of the most compassionate and multicultural rulers in history and was a generous patron of the arts.

The sultan of Bijapur was a descendant of the Ottoman dynasty of Istanbul, Turkey. The sultan of Golconda was a Turkman prince who had taken refuge in India. The sultans were adherents of the Shia sect of Islam and were close allies of the Safavid rulers of Iran. A distinctive culture thus developed in the pluralistic community of the Deccan plateau. In India, the Deccan plateau became the prominent center of Arabic literature and scholarship.

Ibrahim Rauza is another valuable and most stylish architectural example of the Adil Shahi style of architecture. Ibrahim Adil Shah II, one of the sultans of this dynasty, developed and organized his own final resting place.

Arched Verandah of row of pillars around the central chamber of of Ibrahim Rauza, BijapurIbrahim Rauza consists of two core constructions: a tomb and a mosque with several smaller structures. All these buildings are built within a square enclosure with an attractive garden in the front. Both the structures are built on a platform that is 360 feet long and 160 feet wide, around a walled enclosure.

At the eastern end is the tomb and at the western end is the mosque. In between is an open yard in which are found an decorative tank and a fountain. Though the size and purpose of these two structures are different, the architect has productively attempted to produce an equilibrium between them in volume and style. Nevertheless, the tomb seems to be a grander structure than the mosque. The tomb consists of a principal chamber within an arched verandah and both are scaled by a dome. Tall minar-shaped turrets are built at four corners of the building. However, the most beautiful and crowning part is the bulbous dome at the upper story.

Carved ceiling of the Mosque of Ibrahim Rauza in Bijapur

The interior has an arched verandah of row of pillars around the central chamber. They are all abundantly adorned with intricate patterns. The chamber room is a small square of 18 feet each side; but it is elegant because of the introduction of a charmingly carved ceiling at the correct height. Thus, the Ibrahim Rauza has a well-executed plan of a building in its entirety, harmonizing architecture with ornamentation.

Ibrahim Rauza of Bijapur: stylish architectural example of the Adil Shahi style of architectureThe mosque forming the other part of the Ibrahim Rauza relates harmoniously in the mass of its proportion and architectural treatment as well as width of frontage. Though it seems slightly smaller, the comparisons overlook in terms of minars at four directions and a slightly smaller elongated dome. This congruence is the real uniqueness of the Ibrahim Rauza. Between the two and in the center is a beautiful entrance with two minars at each corners. Thus, the whole composition is highly appealing.

Scholars have felt that if this were to be built of marble, the Ibrahim Rauza would have been a close challenger to the glory of the Taj Mahal.

Through architectural wonders such as the Ibrahim Rauza, the Adil Shahis immortalized themselves through this structure which is at once a combination of majesty and beauty.

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Southeast Asia: The Best Sights, Destinations, and Experiences (ASEAN Travel)

SOUTHEAST ASIA: The Best Sights, Destinations, and Experiences (ASEAN Travel)

No longer seen merely as an exotic counterpart to the Occident, South-East Asia has developed an identity all its own over the past few years. You will find very little homogeneity in ASEAN, with every country priding itself on a distant identity concerning culture, religion, cuisine, and traditions.

This vast region is an overwhelming mix of landscapes, from verdant, rolling hills, and isolated islands with white-sand beaches to thick forests and intriguing caves. You can enjoy a range of diverse experiences, and no matter what type of traveler you are, you will find that one special place that will have you returning repeatedly. There are beaches to bum about on, temples, and architectural marvels to visit, hills aplenty to hike, tea estates to unwind at and a whole lot of truly incredible foods to experiment with.

Because we know that you could spend your entire life trying to uncover all of South-East Asia’s treats and not make much headway, we have brought together a collection of the best, unique experiences on offer in the ASEAN countries.

Get off the highway and wander down little, hidden by-lanes where you will discover everything from forgotten tribes, to a mosque built of pure gold, and a swimming pool on top of the world.

Best Travel Ideas for Southeast Asia

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History and Architecture of the Achyutaraya Temple Complex, Hampi, Capital of the Vijayanagara Empire

Achyutaraya Temple Complex, Hampi

Achyutaraya (1530–42 A.D.) temple complex is an imposing and magnificent cluster of temples in Hampi. However, it is called Achyutaraya Temple, an inscription of 1534 A.D. refers to this as Tiruvengalanatha or Venkatesha temple, and King Achyutaraya built it in 1539 A.D.

Achyutaraya Temple Complex, Hampi

The temple consists of a garbhagriha, antarala, pradakshinapatha, sabhamandapa, mahasabhamandapa, kalyanamandapa, Devi shrine etc. All these are enclosed in two prakaras one within the other.

Achyutaraya Temple Complex, Hampi

The outer prakara has main gates at northern and western directions, whereas the inner prakara has the gateways at north, east, and west. All these gateways had gopuras, which are in ruined condition now.

Achyutaraya Temple Complex, Hampi

The square garbhagriha, which originally had an image of Lord Venkatesha, is now empty. Its doorway is ornamented and has Vaishnava dvarapalas and Gajalakshmi at the lintel. Above the garbhagriha is a Dravida type sikhara. The square sabhamandapa has four pillars in the middle set on an elevated floor in the centre.

Achyutaraya Temple Complex, Hampi

The mahasabhamandapa stands on thirty pillars set in five rows. The pillars exhibit typical Vijayanagara features. To the south-west is the Devi shrine and its garbhagriha is empty now. Its sabhamandapa has a sculpture, which has been identified as that of King Achyutaraya, the builder of this temple.

Achyutaraya Temple Complex, Hampi

The sculptures of this temple exhibit good workmanship. The bass-reliefs of combination of bull and elephant arrest our attention. The pillars in general are neatly executed with elegantly carved sculptures of gods and goddesses.

Achyutaraya Temple Complex, Hampi

To the west is a large and rectangular kalyanamandapa or marriage pavilion. It has over one hundred pillars with sculptures of Garuda, Hanuman, and Vishnu etc.

Achyutaraya Temple Complex, Hampi

In front of this complex are low-pillared mandapas, which had bazaars, or markets where merchants used to stock in heaps pearls and other precious stones and sell them. Many foreign travelers have graphically described this pearl bazaar the type of which never existed anywhere in the world except Hampi. That was the glory of Vijayanagara.

Achyutaraya Temple Complex, Hampi

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Luxurious Living for the Adil Shah Royal Family in Bijapur’s Sath Manzil

Sath Manzil palace built by Ibrahim Adil Shah II

Sath Manzil as the name itself signifies is a seven storied structure and in this case a palace. It was built by Ibrahim Adil Shah II, one of the greatest rulers of the Adil Shahi dynasty in 1583 CE. Actually, Ibrahim II is better known for his massive creation of Gol Gumbaz in Bijapur.

Sath Manzil stands near Gagan Mahal to the southwest of the latter, and enclosing a vast quadrangle known as granary. Though named Sath Manzil, today it is a structure of five stories only with a height of about 97 ft. There is a narrow staircase which connected the fifth story to the sixth which does not exist now. In the same manner, there should have been a still smaller connection between sixth and seventh and this justifies the name Sath Manzil. Ibrahim was not satisfied by the previously built Gagan Mahal that was both a palace and a durbar hall. Hence, Ibrahim II planned exclusively a palace in keeping with his status. Naturally seven storied building did not exist in Bijapur and hence Ibrahim thought of building a seven storied palace.

Sath Manzil Bijapur - 1860 Steel Engraving - Print

Sath Manzil for royal family of the Adil Shahi dynastySath Manzil palace was far more extensive than it is today. Therefore, what we see today is only a partial palace and the remaining parts have been destroyed. The Chini Mahal or Faroukh Mahal, which is close by, formed a part of the original palace. A passage along the terrace above the range of rooms on the west side of the quadrangle connected the Chini Mahal. The building was specially erected for pleasure and royal bath as can be understood from the frequent occurrence of ornamental baths and cisterns in various rooms. They are all connected by the water pipes laid from story to story through masonry. Thus, this lavish distribution of water pipes and bathing cisterns is a unique feature of this building.

Jal Mandir or Water pavilion in BijapurWater cisterns are found on all the stories of this building. The walls of these bathrooms were painted with human figures and others decorative motifs. The walls were also gilded beautifully and luxuriously. Another noteworthy feature of this beautiful building is the extensive use of wood as in the case of pillars, window frames, window screens, and brackets. There is another building called Jal Mandir or Water pavilion, which originally formed a part of this grand palace. It also had floorings decorated with colored tiles of different designs. Thus, Sath Manzil is famous for luxurious living of the royal family of the Adil Shahi dynasty. Such buildings are rare.

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Sparkling Romance with Norway’s Historic Hotels & Restaurants

De Historiske is a unique membership organization consisting of several of Norway’s most delightful hotels and restaurants.

De Historiske’s new range of short breaks is a huge success and Norway is more popular as a holiday destination than ever before. Their member-hotels offer unique adventures in Norway. Patrons staying at a number of their hotels, dining in their fabulous restaurants and taking wonderful boat trips can all be part of an amazing package. They offer different packages—each with unique theme—but all have one thing in common—patrons will have an experience of a lifetime.

Destination Weddings in Norway

You and Your Loved One Can Really Spoil Yourselves

Two of the most romantic locations for memorable breaks. Enjoy delicious meals in idyllic, peaceful surroundings. This short break starts at Hotell Refsnes Gods, only a stone’s throw from the Oslofjord. The hotel has an excellent reputation for delicious dining and well-stocked wine cellars, in addition to the inspirational art adorning its walls. The good life continues in the magnificent natural surroundings of Engo Gard Hotel & Restaurant, with its English conservatory-style heated swimming pool and Jacuzzi for relaxation and pampering.

Take a break from the daily toil and feel the benefits!

Sparkling Romance with Norway's Historic Hotels & Restaurants

With Nature at the Doorstep, Work Becomes the Furthest Thing

Whether you want time to socialize with your friends or enjoy a romantic weekend, you’ll find the perfect escape at the hotels’ castles, manors, inns and guesthouses. Do you want to enjoy activities while relaxing, or just enjoy the peace? Regardless of the hotel, you can be sure to end up in scenic surroundings, with top restaurants where traditional food meets modern cuisine.

Weddings, Celebrations, Honeymoons, and Festive Occasions in Norway

Weddings, Celebrations & Festive Occasions That Deserve Special Surroundings

If you are looking to hold a birthday party in unique surroundings, spend a romantic honeymoon or celebrate an important occasion with a special culinary experience, De Historiske are your natural choice. The genuine atmosphere is the reason why many people choose to celebrate special occasions at De Historiske. De Historiske’s surroundings are perfect for creating the relaxed atmosphere that is worthy of an important day—whether a birthday or a wedding day. Celebrations can vary from evening parties to grand events lasting from morning to night. They can also recommend family get-togethers, where the generations meet, in many of Norway’s historic picturesque surroundings.

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Beauty and Majesty of Gagan Mahal in Bijapur, Karnataka

Gagan Mahal, Bijapur

Bijapur in the Deccan plateau of south-western India was the capital of a Muslim kingdom, founded by the Yadava dynasty in the 12th century. It fell under the jurisdiction of the Bahmani Muslims in the 14th century. Its era of independent magnificence was from 1489 to 1686 when the Adil Shahi sultans made it their capital and were in charge for Islamic architecture of exceptional quality. In 1686, the Mogul emperor Aurangzeb defeated Bijapur, but was powerless to exercise firm control and the region soon fell under Maratha sway, from which it elapsed into East India Company hands in the early 19th century.

Ali Adil Shah I ascended the throne and aligned his forces with other Muslim kings of Golconda, Ahmednagar and Bidar, and jointly, they brought down the Vijayanagara empire. With the loot gained, he instigated ambitious projects. He built the Gagan Mahal, the Ibrahim Rauza (his own tomb), Chand Bawdi (a large well), and the Jami Masjid.

The Shah was supreme power but in real practice, the Jagirdars, who acted as his counsellors or advisers, regulated his sovereignty. If the ruler possessed personality and keen intelligence, he could maneuver the chiefs by playing off one against the other, but if he was a minor, or did not fully devote himself to the affairs of the state, they dominated him. With the growth of the territories of the state after 1565 and the resultant increase in the Shah’s prestige and powers, he began to conduct the business of the state with the help of ministers who were placed in charge of various departments of the administration. These ministers held office during his pleasure only. However, whenever the Shah’s authority was weak, they assumed larger importance.

Spandrels of the Gagan Mahal arches in Bijapur, decorated with fish-like and other creatures Gagan Mahal, so called because of its tallness almost touching the sky, was built during the Adil Shahi Sultan Ali Adil Shah I who ruled from 1550 AD., to 1580 AD. In keeping with his victories and wealth that he amassed, he planned to make his capital Bijapur a beautiful and imposing city with many elegant buildings. Gagan Mahal is one such building.

Gagan Mahal was built in 1561 AD., at the order of the Sultan Ali Adil Shah as his palace as also for his durbar. Thus, it served the two fold purposes of Sultani residence and royal court hall. The greatness of the building lies in the fact that it is a congruent combination of both these purposes. The private residential area was on the first floor just above the royal assembly hall. Two massive wooden pillars supported its wooden floor. It had wooden projecting balconies from where the family members of the Sultan, particularly the ladies could watch the spectacle in front, be it royal assembly or sports or any other royal event, including watching the Sultan seated on the throne. Staircases were provided on the back wall for going up or coming down. The staircases also led the inmates to the living rooms, bathrooms, kitchen, and other parts of the residence without being watched by outsiders. Thus, it provided safety, refuge, and privacy to the royal family.

The description of a city in Persian language is one of its fascinating characteristics. For poets and writers, the subject matter gives the occasion to admix poetic imagination with historical realities as well as the actual existing features of the buildings, such as, gardens and water bodies. A beautiful description of Devgiri or Daulatabad in the works of Amir Khusrau is illustrative of the point. There are plentiful descriptions of the beautiful city of Hyderabad, Bijapur, and Aurangabad in the south, Kashmir, Lahore, Kangra, Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Lucknow, Narnol, Hissar and others in the north. Notwithstanding the abundance of material on cities in Persian literature in various libraries and museums, neither the works are well known nor were they used to reconstruct the cityscape.

Beauty and majesty of the Gagan Mahal in Bijapur

The beauty and majesty of the Gagan Mahal structure is the vast central arch, which has a span of over sixty feet. On its both sides were two smaller spanned arches thus giving a rare spectacle of three arches in a row of superhuman magnitudes. This was indispensable because it faced the Durbar hall and the Sultan and his ministers had to have full view of the happenings in front such as sports, wrestling, music etc. Thus, it served a convenient purpose and added majesty to the building. There is a great deal of woodwork in Gagan Mahal. The complete ceiling of the main hall was of wood being supported by heavy beams, wooden window frames and projecting balconies and eaves and pillars. Most of them were painted and gilded to give a royal effect. This palace had its significant periods also. When Mughal emperor Aurangazeb defeated the last Adil Shahi ruler Sikandar, Aurangazeb sat on the throne at this palace and Sikandar was brought before Aurangazeb in silver chains as a captive.

Regrettably, most of the Gagan Mahal is in ruins today except the three main majestic arches symbolizing the strength and glory of the Adil Shahis.

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Lalitha Mahal Palace, Mysore

Lalitha Mahal Palace, Mysore

Lalitha Mahal Palace is one of the most gorgeous and splendid heritage buildings in Mysore, perhaps in Karnataka itself, next only to the Maharaja’s palaces at Mysore and Bangalore.

Mysore being a princely state under the British, many distinguished foreign visitors used to visit Mysore for numerous purposes. They used to stay in Mysore palace itself. But this was not suitable for the stay of foreign dignitaries for obvious reasons. Hence the then ruling king Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV thought of constructing a building wholly for the foreign guests, where they would be more at home. Naturally he thought of a European classical building rather than an Indian palace.

The Maharaja immediately commissioned a famous architect by name E.W Fritchley. He selected a vast site near the foot of the Chamundi Hill, far away from the noise and pollution of the city. The magnificent building was completed in 1931 under the close guidance of the Maharaja Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV at a cost of about thirteen lakhs of rupees.

The building is an imposing two-storied magnificent structure. The projecting square porch at the ground floor and slightly projecting first floor porch with a trefoil pattern at the roof level are very pleasing. Both the floors have twin Ionic columns, eight on either side of the entrance which give a pleasing effect to the edifice. Two tiered domes are placed on all the four sides with one each at the middle. However, the most striking dome is the three tiered one which is just above the circular entrance hall. Actually it is at a great height and dominates the entire area including the elevation. One lakh bulbs were used to illuminate the palace on weekends and explained about the facilities for foreign tourists at the palace.

Magnificent Interiors with woodwork, stone work, or stucco at the Lalitha Mahal Palace Mysore

Though planned by a foreigner, the craftsmen were all local who had attained great mastery in the art of construction—be it woodwork, stone work, or stucco. This is evident from the richly-laid ornamental motifs on walls and ceilings, wall panels, window shutters and door Jambs. The imported tiles and some fixtures add a touch of royalty to the building. The balustrade staircase just facing the entrance branches off to right and left to reach the first floor is a pretty piece of Italian marble. Thus from top to bottom and from one end to another is an epitome of royalty. Even international guests are amazed at this dream-like edifice. Today it is a prestigious hotel of the government of India and attracts discerning tourists from abroad as well as within the country. Even important distinguished persons of the government also stay here, and enjoy the touch of royalty of the bygone ages of Mysore.

Lalitha Mahal Palace Hotel is owned by the State of Karnataka and has been leased out to India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC.) The Lease Agreement is valid till 2023. There is a particular clause in the agreement which clearly states that “in case of a possible disinvestment, the hotel shall be given back to the State at the book value.” Hence the Management of ITDC have two choices: Manage the property till 2023 and then hand it over to the State Tourism Department or hand it over to the State right away at the book value. In case they feel they can’t run the hotel, the State of Karnataka is free to do whatever they want thereafter.

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Magnificent Architectural Features of Gol Gumbaz in Bijapur, Karnataka

Muhammad Adil Shah's architectural treasures in the city of Bijapur in northern Karnataka

Celebrated for its Muhammad Adil Shah’s architectural treasures, the city of Bijapur, in northern Karnataka has in recent years gained celebrity, both in the popular domain as a destination for travel and tourism, and in the intellectual domain as an object of academic study.

Even though art-historical studies of Bijapur have tended to focus attention upon the monuments and urban layout developed during the Muhammad Adil Shah’s period, the city was already evidenced by a cosmopolitan population and architectural activity before Muhammad Adil Shah transformed it during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries to function as their capital. Gol Gumbaz and Ibrahim Roza in Bijapur continue to draw hundreds of visitors every day.

There have been no reductions in the number of Indian tourists visiting the two sites, there has been a decrease of between 50 and 100 in the number of arrivals from abroad compared to last year. In order to attract more tourists, the Archaeological Survey of India has taken steps to upgrade Bara Kaman, Gagan Mahal, Chota Gumbaz and the Citadel Wall.

Magnificent Architecture of Gol Gumbaz in Bijapur, Karnataka

Gol Gumbaz, literally meaning round dome is a tomb of Muhammad Adil Shah (1627-57 CE) planned by himself even before his death. Thus, this monument is one of the largest and most outstanding single buildings in the entire country. This mausoleum is one of the finest structural triumphs of the Indian builders because of its astonishing size. It is a square building with each side measuring 205 ft and its height is 200 feet. The building consists of four thick walls topped by a dome, the outside diameter of which is 144 ft. The interior of the hall measures 135 ft across and it is 178 ft high. Thus, it has over eighteen thousand square feet. It is said that this is bigger than the Parthenon of Greece, which is one of the enormous and magnificent structures. Thus by the sheer size of various parts, Gol Gumbaz reigns supreme in the world of architecture.

Architecture is the construct of life and tradition and has to be understood as such. All plastic art forms are symbiotic on each other for their fullest expression, with the performing and literary arts playing supplementary and complementary roles in the overall composition. India, home of an ancient culture, has long been noted for its civilizational forays, which encompassed varied scientific ideas and technical skills. Its geographical position in the ancient world enabled it to become an internationally important center for integrating and transmitting new scientific ideas and techniques.

engineering wonder and Geometric precision of Gol Gumbaz in Bijapur, Karnataka

However, this is not all. Gol Gumbaz is considered an engineering wonder by the skillful composition of its various parts, the harmonious combination of arches, cornices, foliated parapet and ultimately in the interior to support the vast dome. It is so ingeniously planned to convert the square hall into a circular one by making it into eight angles over which the entire load of the dome rests. This dome is the biggest in Asia and the second biggest in the world. The dome itself is a plain plastered vault with six small openings and is 10 ft in thickness. The interior surface of the dome is placed twelve feet from the inner edge of the circle to distribute and transmit its huge weight downwards on to the four walls. The conversion of a square hall while going up into an octagon and then into a circle finally is a great engineering accomplishment. One can climb to the top through the six-sided enclosed staircases with small domes on all the four sides, which add a grace to the structure. Geometric precision was achieved for the various elements of the dome, including the cast joints, the curved tubular sections and the fixings, through meticulous workmanship.

The domed, centrally-planned design adopted to mark the site of Jesus’ death and resurrection was adopted as well for Christian martyria and baptisteries. However, both the architectural form and the symbolical associations of these Christian buildings were themselves obligated to earlier, non-Christian traditions. With regard to construction, both Christians and Muslims shared a common legacy of building materials, techniques, and tools passed on from the Greco-Roman, Persian, and even the earlier Etruscan worlds. The geometric references of both Christian and Islamic sacred buildings were not merely rooted in mystical thought with no scientific basis. Rather, such mystical thought was familiarly bound with pre-modern cosmology.

Corbelled dome is the Gol Gumbaz at Bijapur and Whispering Gallery

The most awe-inspiring example of a corbelled dome is the Gol Gumbaz at Bijapur. It is generally overlooked that the third largest dome in the world is built upon the megalithic principle. The distinct bricks set in the horizontal courses are embedded in so much of mortar that the dome becomes a mass of mortar to which the bricks have been added. It is believed in some quarters, for structural reasons, that the masonry of the Gol Gumbaz does serve only to transmit vertical stresses to the masonry. However, in all probability for the architect here, the traditional experience of mortar in dome was to safeguard stability for such a massive and unique structural heroic of this kind. If the cast dome of the Gol Gumbaz deserves to be called a corbelled because of its horizontally set bricks, most of the vaulting at Bijapur is pure cast forms that are not liable to collapse even when most of the underpinning has been destroyed. Many unique shapes of ceilings were possible because of the pioneering use of mortar, which is very stable.

Another greatness about this tomb is that it is a whispering gallery where even the mild sound is multiplied hundred fold and reverberates. That is the reason why this is famous all over the world as a whispering gallery. Within the center of the building and below the ground level is the real tomb of its creator Muhammad Adil Shah and his relatives. Nevertheless, what are seen on the ground now are the imitation tombs. Thus, Muhammad Adil Shah gave to the world a great and marvelous structure exhibiting the engineering skill of medieval India, which has won admiration even from modem engineers.

The rich culture, heritage, and architecture of the north Karnataka region are something to be cherished. The region is not only known for its rich cultural heritage but also for great talents in arts and literature.

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