A note on Bijapur
Bijapur Travel Blog› entry 5 of 37 › view all entries
I have decided to split my Bijapur post into two sections. I have done this because I would like to convey information to you about the various sights around Bijpaur, what they are like, and why you might choose to go there. However, I find it impossible to write about this town without starting a general rant about the place and how annoying we found it.
In the spirit of providing to people that which they wish to read, I have separated the contents of my previous post, and have extended each of the two sections as I saw fit. As a result there are now two separate post entitled: (1) The sights of Bijapur; and (2) The most maddening of places. Those who wish to read about the sights can read the first post; those who enjoy reading a good rant can read the second post.
It's probably difficult to get an idea, from these two rather contrasting posts, as to whether I would recommend going to Bijapur or not. In fact I would recommend that people go. The problems which we encountered were probably just the same sort of thing that you get in other places in India. Perhaps it just caught us at a bad time. I think that there is some truth in the observation that there are fewer visitors to Bijapur than to other places we went, and so we probably stood out a bit more there than we might have done in some other places. As long as you're ready to receive a lot of attention then it something that you can cope with; I woulnd't claim for a moment that we're the most tolerant of travellers!
I thank you for your time!
I don't know what it was about Bijapur, but it had a knack of winding us up beyond belief. India can try your patience at the best of times, but events seemed to conspire against us in Bijapur.
We arrived on the bus from Badami, together with another British guy who we'd met at while we were waiting for the bus in Badami. We found a hotel after not too much bother. However, we had to complain a number of times to get them to clean the room they'd given us; they'd sent someone to do the cleaning, but his idea of cleaning the extensive "stains" off the toilet consisted of standing on the terrace outside admiring the view! We even persuaded them to change the bedding in the end!
We got a fantastic meal at a small restaurant just across the road: 56 rupees for lunch for both of us! This is not a rant, although, in common with all other reataurants in the area, they give you tin cups to drink out of, and they almost always smell of milk.
We found another restaurant which we really liked, called the Royal Palace; you can find a review of it attached to these posts. However, we did have a fun incident one evening there, when a fellow diner on an adjacent table came over to talk to us, and to shake our hands. He didn't speak much English, and we didn't speak any of the local language, but he seemed happy to exchange a few words with us before going back to his table. It was only later on that he decided it would be a good idea to throw onions at us. Repeatedly. My wife wasn't particularly happy being struck on the back of the head by a large piece of raw onion. Perhaps this is some local custom that I don't understand.
We spent a couple of days visiting the sights in Bijapur. To read about what's good about the sights please see my separate post; this is a rant! When we tried to get an autorickshaw between Ibrahim Rouza and Golgumbaz the driver tried to charge us far too much, and then tried to justify it by lying about how far it was. This was easy for us to deal with: we walked away and found somebody else to take us. I don't know why it annoys me that they're too stupid to defraud us properly. Doesn't he realise that I can tell the difference between 5km and 1.5km?
To summarise our most infuriating moments in the town, without resorting to writing pages and pages:
1) We tried to buy a bus ticket to Hyderabad.
2) We suffered more cases of nearly being run over than in any other town in India. On one occassion a cyclist nearly ran Zoe over, apparently BECAUSE he was looking at her; she had to stop him by grabbing the handlebars of his bike.
3) Every time you tried to cross the road, an autorickshaw would stop right in front of you, just in case you wanted a ride (ignoring the fact that there were so many of them around that had we wanted one, we'd already have been in one).
4) We made the mistake of trying to sit in the park, which soon attracted a crowd. The first guy over asked us for cigarettes, and apparently wasn't happy with the answers "we don't have any" and "we don't smoke". After that the crowd grew. When we moved to sit on the remains of an old mausoleum in the centre of the park we managed to get a little peace and quiet until we got thrown off by the security guard; he was apparently happy for us to sit there until I got irritated by the attention he insisted on paying us, which included being unable to resist taking my pencil out of my hand while I was using it to write.
There were many more incidents which got to us. I don't know how one town, in which we spent only two or three days, could score so highly on the annoyance scale.
During our time in the town we'd seen so many poor people, and at times I had street children grabbing onto my clothes, which is difficult to know how to deal with. The poverty seemed to be a bit more in-your-face in Bijapur than other places we went.
As we were leaving, on the train to Hyderabad, we were harangued by the best dressed schoolboy in the town asking us for money. Needless to say, we didn't give him anything. I find it amazing how all the children in India have been trained to ask for money, sweets and particularly pens. Even those whose parents can afford second class tickets on the train, and who have smart shirts, trousers and shiny shoes.
Bijapur is famous for its Islamic architecture; the two main sites are the Ibrahim Rouza and the Golgumbaz, both of which date from the 17th century.
Ibrahim Rouza consists of two ornately decoated domed buildings; one was a mosque and the other a mausoleum. They stand facing each other across a courtyard in the middle of a small green area in the western part of the town. The site is surrounded by a defensive wall which can be walked along, and which affords a good vantage point for taking photos.
Golgumbaz is a huge domed structure, which also served as a mausoleum; it is much plainer than the Ibrahim Rouza, but the sheer scale of the building is impressive. At the top of the dome there is a "whispering gallery"; the idea is that you can stand on one side of the dome and whisper something against the wall, and the acoustics will carry it to the other side of the dome where a listener will be able to make out clearly what you're saying.
There are the remains of some other buildings in the town as well. In the centre of town there is a ruined mausoleum set in a small park, and nearby the ruins of an old fort similarly set in a small garden. Both consists of a few arches and walls, but are worth popping into if you're in the town. There's another interesting sight in the centre of town which is nothing to do with muslim history: on one of the roads leading behind the old fort you come to a point where all of the towns typists seem to be set up in business, out in the open air.
The town also contains the ruins of the old defensive town wall. On the western side of town there is an enormous canon on the wall, which carries the design of a tiger's head on its mouth. It is a truly colossal weapon. Nearby in the western part of town there is a watchtower which you can ascend for more views over the town. The top of this tower contains some smaller canon.
The sites in Bijapur are well worth seeing for anyone who's in the Karnataka; I'm surprised that we saw so few foreigners while we were in the town.