Gol Gumbaz in Bijapur is famed to be the second largest dome in the world

The writing on the wall…

Gol Gumbaz in Bijapur is famed to be the second largest dome in the world. Sadly, vandals have defaced this architectural wonder and continue to do it unashamedly. Isn’t it about time people realised the significance of the monument, wonders D R Purohit Kaladagi.

Gol Gumbaz in Bijapur

Gol Gumbaz in Bijapur

Everybody speaks of historical monuments with pride and express concern towards their conservation. Unfortunately, defacing the same monuments continues unchecked. Take, for instance, the Gol Gumbaz of Bijapur. One of the most significant showpieces of Karnataka, the Gol Gumbaz evokes awe and admiration in tourists.

However, in spite of several preventive measures undertaken by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), including the clearing of encroachments surrounding the monuments, attempts to spoil the beauty of the monument continues, thanks to a few careless visitors. Sadly, a few locals have also joined this heinous act. Most of these people are educated and do not hesitate to proclaim their achievement (read graffiti) all over the place, dodging the watchful eyes of the ASI staff.

These people descend upon the place equipped with painting material, pen, pencil, markers, etc. They scratch the surface of the monument with keys, nails, coins and metal pieces while women make use of their lipsticks. Sometimes, a few of them get caught, but apart from a public dressing down, the ASI authorities are not empowered to mete just punishment. It is being said that the Central Government is considering bringing an amendment to the law governing the ASI’s efforts in monument preservation, to provide more power to the ASI. If implemented, officials can penalise offenders on the spot.

Most of the visitors are unaware of the significance of these historical monuments and of the fact that these monuments represent the land’s history and heritage. They are also unaware that by scratching their names and messages on the walls, they are diminishing the monument’s beauty. At the same time, they are also busy attempting to evade the ASI staff.

Most of these attacks are carried out on the Whispering Gallery. Hundreds of people rush inside the gallery at a time, showing their ignorance and insensitivity, thereby missing the opportunity to make out the distinguishing features of the gallery. For example, if one were to place a wrist-watch close to one side of the wall, another person can hear its ticking on the other side. But the vulgar screams and loud footsteps do not allow this. Sensitive tourists are helpless in the face of such blatant exhibitionism.

The ASI is considering sending up the tourists in batches, accompanied by security staff who will then bring them down after the stipulated time, as it is felt that a small group of tourists, watched by security, will not be able to cause any damage to the monument. But people feel that this measure may not be sufficient on days when thousands of visitors throng the Gumbaz.

The public must stop those indulging in such acts of vandalism and create awareness on the significance of such historical monuments. Only then will fragile monuments like the Gol Gumbaz remain for our future generations.

The past

The credit for constructing the world-famous mausoleum goes to the Adil Shahi rulers of Bijapur. Among them, Ibrahim Adil Shah, who ruled Bijapur from 1627 to 1657, got the mausoleum Ibrahim Roza, an architectural wonder, built for himself. Son Mohammed Adil Shah went a step further to build a simple but huge mausoleum which is none other than the Gol Gumbaz!

The Gol Gumbaz took around 20 years to be completed. The Gol Gumbaz, which is 205 feet long, 204 feet wide, 200 feet tall and has a circumference of 160 feet, is a blend of Iran and Indo-Persian styles of architecture. Using special technology, the architects built eight arches that pierced each other to form an octogonal platform 90 feet above, upon which the Gumbaz (dome) sits.

The inner diameter of the dome is 125 feet while the outer diameter is 144 feet. The wall is 100 feet thick. Beneath the dome, attached to its inner wall is a 21 feet gallery, where one can witness a unique phenomenon of sound. This is the world-famous Whispering Gallery!

As the story goes, Rambha, a Sri Lankan dancer, falls in love with Mohammed Adil Shah and comes to settle down in Bijapur. One day, while the two are in the Whispering Gallery, Shah asks Rambha to prove her love to him by jumping down the Gumbaz. Without any hesitation, the besotted woman jumps to her death. Her tomb lies beside those of the Shah’s two wives, a daughter and a son, as a token of Shah’s respect for the dancer. Shouldn’t it be preserved?