Gol Gumbaz and Badami: A Road Trip Adventure
Updated: May 7
Waking up to the sweet sound of birds singing is always a delightful experience. It's not every day we get to enjoy such simple pleasures, so when we do, we make the most of it. After a satisfying dinner and drinks, we slept soundly, ready to start a new day.
As the sun began to rise and its warm rays fell on our faces, we got up, freshened up, enjoyed a hearty breakfast, and set off towards our destination for the day - Aihole, Pattadakal, and Badami. As usual, Ajay took the wheel, Bobby was still recovering from a hangover, and I was the navigator.
As we hit the highway, we spotted a milestone that read "Bijapur – 215 KM". Ajay and I instantly agreed that we must visit this place, given its distance from our planned route. We also remembered the story of how the Sultans of Bijapur, Bidar, Golcanda, Ahmednagar, and Berar attacked Hampi in 1565, resulting in its massive destruction. Since Bijapur had a historical connection to Hampi, we wanted to witness it for ourselves, and being a lover of impromptu trips, we decided to make a detour to Bijapur. Although Bobby was initially hesitant, we managed to persuade him that we could still cover the other places we had planned to visit earlier.
As we drove towards Bijapur, we couldn't contain our excitement and kept discussing what it would have been like if we were born in that era, laughing at the thought. It was fascinating to learn that Bijapur was originally called Vijaypura, meaning "City of Victory," and had been renamed as such. Interestingly, if you navigate to Bijapur on Google Maps, it will show up as Vijaypura. According to historical records, Bijapur was initially established by the Chalukyas and later ruled by the Yadavas and the Deccan Sultanates. During the Deccan Sultanate's reign, Bijapur had acquired many Islamic landmarks, including the grand "Gol Gumbaz."
Our main purpose for visiting Bijapur was to witness the famous Gol Gumbaz, which we had previously learned about from our guide in Hampi and in textbooks. This massive structure serves as the burial chamber of Mohammed Adil Shah, the Sultan of Bijapur, and was built in 1656 by the architect Yaqut of Dabul. Its name, Gol Gumbaz, means "circular dome" and it is said to be the second-largest dome structure in the world.
As we arrived at the entrance of Gol Gumbaz, I could see from a distance that it was an impressively large structure, although the lower portion was somewhat obscured by a museum in front of it. The Islamic style of architecture used in the construction of Gol Gumbaz was strikingly different from that of Hampi, but it was no less beautiful. Even Bobby, who had been initially reluctant to visit Bijapur, was awed by the splendor of Gol Gumbaz. We spent time exploring, admiring, and capturing unforgettable moments at this breathtaking landmark.
If you take a stroll around Golgumbaz, you will notice that the structure is perfectly symmetrical from all angles. Even when we climbed up to the upper floor, the pillars and shorter domes were perfectly symmetrical. The view of Bijapur city is breathtaking from the upper floor of the Gumbaz. While at the Gumbaz, the Whispering Gallery is a must-visit. When a sound is made, it echoes seven times. We tried to capture a complete picture of the Gumbaz, but due to its sheer size and the limitations of my camera, it was challenging. However, we managed to take a photo of one side of the Gumbaz.
It was already 1:00 PM and we realized we needed to leave Bijapur soon so we could stick to our original plan of visiting the historic sites of Aihole, Pattadakal, and Badami. Although we were quite hungry, we quickly ordered some biryani at the restaurant, which turned out to be quite good. After satisfying our hunger, we set off for Aihole, followed by Pattadakal, and finally Badami, determined to make the most of our day.
Apart from Gol Gumbaz, Bijapur boasts several other significant landmarks that are worth visiting. One such place is the Ibrahim Rouza, a tomb and mosque complex built in the 17th century that is known for its elegant architecture and intricate carvings. Another notable attraction is the Bijapur Fort, a massive fortification that served as the headquarters of the Adil Shahi dynasty during the 16th and 17th centuries.
Bara Kaman, a set of incomplete mausoleums located on the outskirts of the city, is another interesting site to explore. The Jumma Masjid, a grand mosque built in the 16th century, is also a must-visit spot for history buffs. Other places of importance in Bijapur include the Gagan Mahal, a palace built for the Adil Shahi kings, and Saat Kabar, a cemetery with seven tombs.
As we were driving, the phrase "man proposes, God disposes" came to mind. Throughout our journey, either Ajay or I were driving, but this time we asked Bobby to take the wheel. Unfortunately, he wasn't a very good driver and blamed the narrow roads for his struggles. While the roads were indeed narrower compared to the highway, we missed a milestone and took a wrong turn which caused us further delay. As we approached Aihole, it was already 4:45 pm, and we all knew that we couldn't visit all three places. We looked at each other and came to the same conclusion: we would have to skip Aihole and Pattadakal and head straight to Badami.
Badami, formerly known as Vatapi, is a historic town in the Bagalkot district of Karnataka, India. According to a local legend, there was a demon named Vatapi who was killed by a sage at this location, and hence the town was named Vatapi. The town served as the regal capital of the Badami Chalukyas, who ruled the region from the 6th to 8th century CE. The town is famous for its rock-cut structural temples, which are some of the finest examples of South Indian architecture.
Badami is also known for its beautiful location. The town is situated at the mouth of a ravine, with sandstone cliffs rising on either side. The Agastya Lake, which is believed to have healing powers, is located nearby.
Apart from the cave temples, other important sites to visit in Badami include the Badami Fort, the Bhutanatha Group of Temples, and the Archaeological Museum.
Badami is also a popular destination for rock climbing enthusiasts, with the sandstone cliffs providing excellent opportunities for climbing.
Upon arriving in Badami around 5:30 PM, we were immediately struck by the stunning view of the Bhutanatha group of temples on the Agastyathirtha Tank. However, our disappointment grew when we were informed by security that the gates were closed and we were not allowed to explore further. Despite this setback, we spent some time taking in the beauty of the area, taking photos and promising to return to properly explore Aihole, Pattadakal, and the rest of Badami. We made a pact to come back as the original trio, with no additions or subtractions to our group. That evening, we returned to our hotel, Priyadarshini, in Hospet, and set out early the next morning for Bangalore.
During our journey back to Bangalore, we made several stops at various farms to capture some moments and enjoy the scenery. This trip was truly enjoyable for me as I learned so much about the places we visited, immersed myself in their history, and promised never to take any place for granted, whether it be close by or far away.