Skip to navigation

Mark Moxon's Travel Writing

India: Bijapur

The Golcumbaz in Bijapur
The beautiful Golcumbaz, an amazing aural experience, if you're lucky

Waving goodbye to my Hampi friends as they boarded the bus for the southbound train, I felt a strange yet familiar feeling. Yes, it was sad to be seeing newly discovered kin disappear into the evening sun, but I suddenly felt that little thrill associated with being alone again, with being independent and having to make my own decisions.

The Golcumbaz

Mark on the roof of the Golcumbaz
From the top of the Golcumbaz you can see - and hear - the whole city

The Golcumbaz, for example, is astounding. A huge domed building, looking slightly ungainly but definitely impressive, the Golcumbaz's appeal lies not so much in its impressive size and structure, but in the aural effect of its dome. The dome contains a whispering gallery, and it's a stunner.

Ruined citadel walls in Bijapur
Ruined remains of the old citadel walls can be found throughout Bijapur

The Incomparable Ibrahim Roza

The Ibrahim Roza
The stunning Ibrahim Roza, with its perfectly emotive minarets

Other beautiful buildings followed, such as the simple yet striking Jama-e-Masjid Mosque; the Asar Mahal, where kids play cricket in the nearby water tank, and I was accosted by a crazy old man who kept shouting, 'Cumoncumon!' as he dragged me up to the roof and insisted I take pictures of him prancing around before demanding some baksheesh; and the Citadel, which sports some beautiful ruins and pleasant parks.

Symmetrical arches inside the Ibrahim Roza
Perfect symmetry inside the Ibrahim Roza

Holi in Bijapur

The Ibrahim Roza
The detail of the stone carvings in the Ibrahim Roza is amazing

On the other hand, there were three areas where the austere nature of Islam seemed to crumble in Bijapur. First, some places celebrate Holi not only on the full moon, but also on a few specific days afterwards, and sometimes every day of the following week. 17 March was evidently one of those days in Bijapur, and I saw plenty of people wandering around smothered in purple and silver (the favourite colours of the Bijapurians, presumably); I even managed to gain a few facial and arm stains myself, much to the glee of the local populace. One assumes that only the Hindus actually participate in the Holi celebration, but the proliferation of brightly coloured people and the ubiquitous smell of alcohol clashed vibrantly with the traditional view of an Islamic town.

A man on a roof in Bijapur
An insane Bijapur man grabbed me, took me up to his roof, and insisted I take his picture, so I did

1 This was despite the poetic nonsense of the sign downstairs proclaiming that 'Spitting and writting [sic] is strictly prohibited'. Chalk up another great sign in a country that excels in this lost art.