Taj of the south?

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February 22nd 2016
Published: February 22nd 2016
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The best place to start this post is the bus journey to Bijapur. We'd booked the bus to leave from Mapusa (the closest town to Anjuna) at 9PM and were due to arrive around 7AM. It is officially a sleeper bus, so you do get a bed, but sleeping on these buses isn't possible! Take into account the natural swaying of the bus, gently rocking you side to side as you go to sleep. That sounds quite attractive to me, slowly drift off to sleep like the baby Jesus, rocking in his manger.

In reality, once you factor In the atrocious Indian roads you're spending 10+ hours getting thrown around a mattress (which is actually quite soft, the bed alone is better than most of the beds we've slept in so far), that's barely long enough for you, AND you have to listen to people talking, playing music loud etc all night long. Thankfully this time, there wasn't any ear splitting music rattling the windows.

The journey was especially bad for me. After a collective total of around seven months in India, I've finally vomited. A truly spectacular moment, worthy of ending such a streak. I don't know what caused it, I must have had food poisoning or something. Most annoyingly I didn't feel sick before I got on the bus! We got on the bus, had some rum, fell asleep. Next thing we're being woken at 2.30AM to have our ticket checked again! WHAT GOES THROUGH THESE IDIOTS HEADS?! I've not really mentioned it so far, but everything in India seems to defy logic. I can't think of any more examples off the top of my head, maybe I’ll try to keep a track and make it a feature on the blog “how stupid are things in India this week”.

Yeah so I wake at 2.30AM to this killer stomach ache. I retain, at this point, that if the conductor hadn't woke me up then I wouldn't have been ill.

I was basically sat awake shaking for a few hours before a magnificent vomlet all down the side of the bus.

Anyway onto the important stuff.

It was 6.30AM when we arrived, pretty much everything was closed. We consult the guide book and pick out the cheapest place, 200rs per night for a room, perfect. However, this was closed so we had to settle for “Sagar Deluxe” 500rs per night for three. How they get away with referring to themselves as “deluxe” I'll never know. It was by far the dirtiest place we've stayed the whole trip. Cam had bed bugs from some of the provided blankets, there was dust everywhere! I don't think they'd cleaned the place since it was built. The bathroom was disgusting, it was like a cross between the room from “the Beach” and hell.

When we pulled up we could see an ancient ruin at the end of the street, a slight silver lining.

If you're one of these travellers who want to get “off the beaten track”, Bijapur could be one of the places to come. In the whole three days that we spent in Bij (I'm going to call it Bij from now on because I think that it's overall more “street” and down with the kids) we must have seen three other white people, and they were at the main attraction. So we basically had all the monuments to ourselves.

If the ruins had better upkeep and were looked after properly it could be a major tourist destination. The guide book's summary of it being the “Agra of the south” wasn't wrong!

The Golgumbaz (100rs entry), Bij's most famous building, is a mausoleum for one of the Adil Shahis' previous rulers and his family.

What an impressive building! Similar in size to the Taj Mahal, it can be seen pretty much throughout the city (provided you're high enough to see over the rooftops). The size of the dome that crowns it, is second only in to St Peter's square in Rome. This fact alone is enough, surely, for more tourists to go to Bij! I really would recommend this place, especially if you're either in Hampi or have been before. Bij is the home to the Muslim empire that destroyed Hampi, and all around the area there's plenty of ancient structures etc for you to get your teeth into.

The other MUST SEE in Bij is “The Ibrahim Rauza” (100rs entry). Again it's a mausoleum for an old ruler and his family done in a similar vein to the Taj, in respect that opposite is an almost symmetrical mosque.

In terms of size it's not as big as the Golgumbaz, but in terms of beauty it's on a par with it. Like I said before, if these monuments were cleaner etc they could potentially be on a par with the Taj.

The rauza from the outside looks kind of similar to the Taj. A Muslim building with decoration that's current of the era it was built in, it wouldn't look out of place in the middle east. To the left was the mausoleum and to the right, in almost perfect symmetry, was the mosque. Amazing stonework decorates the exterior of the building, with Islamic calligraphy from the Koran engraved into the walls.

Just outside the reach of most bus parties, so you have the place to yourself, it's a definite must see!

The Gulgumbaz and the Ibrahim Rauza are the main events in the city, but there's also some other structures to go and see. Any guide book or local map will show you where they are. I'm not sure if we managed to see all of them on account of stumbling across some ruins, which happened to be the coolest thing we saw.

In the middle of the city, near the citadel (also worth a visit), we must have walked east for about ten minutes towards a mosque that's listed on the map. We found what was probably an old barracks or somewhere that wasn't too important, it was falling apart and all overgrown with weeds and thorns. It joined onto part of the old castle walls, we must have spent around an hour wandering around. It was a sense of freedom you just don't get with the other monuments, being able to just go where you want. There's so many stairways and tunnels that are closed off in the other places...WHAT ARE THEY HIDING?!

As anyone who's been to Asia before will know, the locals love to have a selfie taken with a white person. Recently I've been playing with the idea of charging 10rs per photo, everything's for sale in this world right?

So being the capitalist pig that I am, I decided to put the “idea” to the test. Two Indian boys walk over and ask for a selfie, after about ten minutes of trying to communicate that I wanted 10rs for the picture, we finally struck a deal. He crossed my palm with 10rs and he got his selfie! If Dave and Cam both buy into it we'll be earning and travelling in no time.

At first there was a question mark as to the morality, however I decided that if they're willing give away 10rs then surely there's no problem? I was once told that India's biggest income is ripping off westerners, so I'm jut getting one back!

Aside from the obvious monuments etc Bijapur didn't have much to offer, a silver lining being great fresh fruit juice for 10rs. A very crazy standard Indian city, chaos everywhere. It's about bang on in the middle of the country too, so it was interesting to see elements of both the south and north. Given the Islamic monuments, the climate and the fact it's a Muslim majority city, Bij had a kind of middle eastern air to it.

With Cam's pockets getting smaller due to it being near the end of his trip, we've decided to cut some of the stops off through Karnataka in an effort to get to Andaman as quick as possible. Bengaluru, or Bangalore as it was once called, is one of the most developed cities in India, either on a par with Mumbai or not far off.

So that's our next stop, according to the guide book we can sample some cheap ales too!


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