History of Bijapur Fort
The Adil Shahi dynasty was founded by Yusuf Adil Shah in 1489. He later constructed the fort and the Faroukh Mahal with skilled architects from Rome, Turkey and Persia. In 1510, he was succeeded by his son Ibrahim Adil Shah who became the ruler of Bijapur Sultanate. He made several additions to the fortress and also constructed the Jami Masjid in the vicinity of the fort. Ali Adil Shah I, the son of Ibrahim Adil Shah, also built a number of monuments in the fort and near the town. These include the Jami Masjid, a well named Chand Bawdi, his tomb Ali Rauza and the Gagan Mahal.
His nephew Ibrahim II succeeded Ali Adil Shah I as the king of the region and served as an intellectual and liberal ruler. He established several Hindu temples in the precinct and also constructed the Gol Gumbaz, the mausoleum of Mohammed Ali Shah. The Mallik-E-Maidan was also established during his rule. He was succeeded by Ali Adil Shah II, his adopted son, in 1646.
After the fall of the Adil Shahi dynasty, the Bijapur sultanate was included into the Mughal Empire in 1686. Eventually in 1877, the British Empire in India took control of the fort. However most of the fort and palaces were in ruins by that period.
Structure of Bijapur Fort
The Bijapur Fort includes several historical structures, such as, fortifications, temples, tombs, mosques, palaces, gardens etc. There are also some ancient temples which predate the Adil Shahi dynasty. The most prominent buildings in the vicinity of the fort are the Arkilla (Citadel), Jumma mosque (Jamia Masjid), the Gagan Mahal palace, Taj Bawdi (also known as Chand Bavdi), Mehtar Mahal, Jal Mahal, Ibrahim Rauza, Barakaman, Malik-e-Maidan, Sat Manzili, Asar Mahal. Some of the structures have been discussed below:
Jamia Masjid: Jamia Masjid is located in the south east part of the city. It is the largest mosque of Bijapur, which was started in 1565, but not fully completed. It has an arcaded prayer hall with fine aisles supported on massive piers and has an impressive dome in the façade which has nine bays. The large courtyard has a water tank.
Gagan Mahal Palace: Gagan Mahal also called Heavenly Palace was built by Ali Adil Shah I in 1561 as a royal palace with a durbar hall in it. It has three impressive arches the central arch of which is the widest. The durbar hall was located in the ground floor while the first floor was built as the private residence of the royal family; both the floors are now in ruins. The outer portion of the main entrance of the palace has three arches; the central arch, which is the largest of the three, is 20 meters long and 17 meters in height.
Taj Bawdi: Taj Bawdi is a water reservoir that was built to commemorate the Taj Sultana, Ibrahim II ’s first wife. The entrance arch of the reservoir has an impressive architectural grandeur. It has two octagonal towers; the east & west wings of the two towers were used as rest houses.
Mehtar Mahal: Mehtar Mahal, dated to 1620, is one of the most elegant structures in the fort. The entrance of the mahal has been built in Indo-Saracenic style; outer portion of the entrance has three arches. A gateway of the mahal leads to the Mehtar mosque, which is a three-storey building. Its carvings are in Hindu architectural style, in the form of brackets supporting the balconies and stone trellis work.
Visiting Information to Bijapur Fort Belgaum airport is the nearest to this fort. Bijapur city is 530 km northeast of Bangalore, 650 km from Mysore and 550 km from Mumbai. Bijapur is a Broad gauge station on the South Western Railways; direct trains are available from Bangalore, Mumbai, Hubli, Solapur and Shirdi to the city of Bijapur.