Sketching in Bijapur: Gol Gumbaz
After too long I managed to make a sketching trip in India with my aunt (see her sketches at sketchaway). We drove to Bijapur (now called Vijayapura), a Deccan town in northern Karnataka. By road, Bijapur rises suddenly from a landscape planted with millet, pomegranate and grapes. The town’s streets stream continuously with people. Amidst crowds of uniformed school children are farmers in strident yellow turbans. They share the roads with the usual cast of cows and dogs but also horse-drawn carts and bristly, black pigs. Rising above the city skyline, dwarfing the trees and new concrete construction, are old domes of many sizes. Each dome bursts upwards from a ring of stone petals and ends in a tall finial. The domes cap the palaces, mosques, and tombs of the Adil Shahi dynasty. The Adil Shahis ruled from the 15th to the 17th century, and made Bijapur their capital. Under them, the city was beautified with gardens and mosques and equipped with a complex water system. Foreign visitors and traders frequented Bijapur’s many serais.
With its mixture of old and new, Bijapur is the perfect place for sketching. We roamed the streets and spent time drawing the monuments. I could write at length of the conversations and kindness of people we met while sketching, but I will try to stick to pictures here. 🙂
Bijapur’s most famous monument is the Gol Gumbaz, the tomb of Sultan Mohammed Adil Shah. Its dome is one of the largest in the world and has strange acoustics properties. Two people sitting at opposite sides within it can whisper towards the wall and hear each other perfectly, as if they are side by side. Usually this is impossible to experience as visiting school children fill the dome with screams and shouts, delighted by the echos.
The grounds of the Gol Gumbaz have been wonderfully landscaped by the Archaeological Survey and are filled with shade trees. In a quiet garden adjoining the main compound, we sketched an overgrown ruin with its single minaret.
Besides the Gol Gumbaz is a mosque and small museum. Beyond the mosque, in the distance, other domes are visible above the trees.
More Bijapur sketches to come!