BIJAPUR – A CITADEL

Bijapur was a home away from home throughout my childhood. Almost all vacations were spent there divided between my mother’s home and father’s home. My early memories of the city are about the stretch between two homes which we traversed in a horse-pulled tongas. These horse-carts went around the city in a specific rhythm thanks to the small bells and trinkets around horses neck. They would pull through broken walls of a fallen fort and under huge arches (Badi Kaman), pass by big and small domes. My father told me names of all these places each time we passed them and by next vacation I would have forgotten them all over again.

The two homes also seemed to be separated by a huge culture-gap. My maternal grandfather was a photographer, a baker and a certified tourist guide for foreigners, so that home was a very liberal open space. My paternal grandfather was a school head master, so his home was very humble mud cum wooden house in a very conservative Brahmin neighborhood. My grandmother practiced all the rituals very strictly so our freedom was restricted there. These are early faint memories. By the time I grew up, the two homes had moved in closer in humbleness. Life humbles us all. Our visits too became rare as I grew.

By then I had met Bijapur in my history text-book. I was so proud of Gol-Gombuz, it’s acoustics and the place. Adil-Shah of Bijapur seemed more familiar than other historical figures – after all his city connected us. The city came to me as goodies brought-in by my grandmother and in her stories. But soon all real connections with the city got severed as my grandparents, uncles and all relatives moved out.

Last year, I re-visited Bijapur with my son. As in the case of Badami, I went nursing a feeling that I had no one there, there was a strong nostalgia for lost parental home. But to my utter surprise, the city welcomed me with all it’s charm. I had booked a room in hotel Adil Shahi – a heritage modest hotel run by KSTDC. It was such a charming place. The hotel personnel and everyone whom I told about my roots in the city were elated and they addressed me as “daughter of the city” in typical a Bijapur Kannada accent. A nomad had a momentary home-coming feeling! But the city had transformed completely. Instead of tangas, there were buses and autos. The broken fort walls seemed dwarfed and invisible in the concrete jungle. Yet, the historical monuments stood very tall!

Bijapur was designed to be a citadel of Adil Shahi dynasty. Here are few photographs. This entire town should be given heritage status. Two-three days visit is certainly not enough to document the place.

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