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The Muslim Heritage Tour


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Sufism is the mystical dimension of Islam based on the esoteric, or "inner-meaning" of its scripture, namely the Qur'an. Sufism's central doctrine is based on a verse of the Qur'an; in which God says, "I created man and breathed my spirit into him." This "divine spark" placed into every individual, says the Sufi, must be nurtured and cherished. Furthermore, each individual "spark" or "spirit" separated from the Universal Spirit, desires to return and reunite with the Universal spirit. This is confirmed by another verse in the Qur'an, which says "from God we came, and to God shall we return," This "returning" is vital and central to the Sufi doctrine. Now, the Sufi embarks on a spiritual journey known as the Sufi Path; a path of devotion and love; which leads to none other than God Himself.

The word "Sufi is derived from the Arabic word "suf," meaning "wool," Garments woven from wool were generally worn by early mystics, who came to be known as "Sufis," Sufism is a mystical school of Islamic thought which strives to attain truth and divine love by direct personal experience. In Arabic, this mysticism is known as tasawwuf. The difference between Sufism and mainstream Islam is simple. All Muslims believe that man is on a path to God (tariqah). However where the mainstream Muslim believes that it is only possible to reach God after death at the final judgement, the Sufi believes that it is possible to reach God during ones life. To this end there are a number of different techniques and methods.

The origin of Sufism goes back to the Prophet Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam, who received the divine Revelation known as the Qur'an, over a period of 23 years. As all Muslims know; that the Holy Qur'an is a "multi-layered revelation," whose verses can be interpreted literally, metaphorically, philosophically, and mystically.

The Prophet used to explain and clarify the meaning of each chapter and verse of the Qur'an to his immediate friends and companions. To a select few of his companions he explained the mystical interpretation of the verses; thus starting a "chain of transmission" of the esoteric meaning of the Qur'an. This was conveyed first only, by "word of mouth" from master to pupil or disciple. This oral tradition has continued from generation to generation to the present day. It is interesting to note that the "Sufi pledge" between a Sufi-master and his disciple is still an oral one. It was much later that Sufi teachings and practices were formally put down in writing for future generations.

Qawwali is a form of religious observance of worship and literally means “utterance”. This art form is the devotional music of the Sufis – the mystical sect of Islam, intended to elevate the spirit and bring both performer and listener closer to God. At the heart of Sufism is the heart itself: devotional love of God (Allah), his Prophet (Mohammed) and his friend (Ali). Music is the vehicle to reach the heart and attain a state of grace or enlightenment, a “stateless state” or Ma’rifat – the divine power.

The Qur'an instructs man to remember God. This remembrance, known as dhikr, may be either silent or vocal. The Qawwali may be viewed as an extension of the vocal form of this remembrance. While the use of music to attain a trance-like state in order to achieve mystical knowledge has been documented by musicologists as early as the 9th century, Qawwali in its present form probably started at the end of the 13th century in the Indian sub continent. The great Sufi poet and musical composer Hazrat Amir Khusrao (1253-1325) developed this form to convey a mystical religious message.



Traditionally a Qawwali performance is head at the shrine of a saint. The music provides an intangible interplay between form and content, dwelling upon particular words to create a wider context, allowing simple language to attain great depths. The trance – inducing repetition of a verse or phrase indicated both the obvious and the hidden context, taking the audience into a discovery of a new meaning, sudden revelations and new significances. Both the performer and the listener are drawn into this heightened experience. Words are repeated until all meaning is exhausted and only the purity of the form remains, a universal understanding transcending linguistic barriers. The impact of vigorous hand clapping both repetitive and forceful tends to have a trance like effect on the audience. For the Sufis, spiritual advancement through music comes to both, the performer and the audience, for there are two forms of Grace, neither greater than the other – “Those with a melodious voice and those endowed with the faculties to appreciate them.” 

Travel Itinerary


Day 1: DEPART USA


Depart USA

DAY 2: ARRIVE DELHI


En route to India. Late night arrival into Delhi. You will be met outside the International Arrival's Hall and transferred to the hotel, where accommodation is being held from 12 noon onwards.

DAY 3: DELHI


Morning is at leisure.
In the early afternoon, drive to Old Delhi past the India Gate, built in memory of Indian soldiers killed during the First World War. Rashtrapati Bhawan, built in the early 20th century as the Imperial residence of the Viceroy is today the official residence of the President of India and Parliament House, an unique circular building with huge colonnades, houses the Upper and Lower Houses of Parliament.
Sightseeing of Old Delhi includes a visit to the Red Fort, built in 1648 during the reign of Shah Jehan in red sandstone, which gave the fort its name. Jama Masjid is India's largest mosque, built of red sandstone and white marble in the middle of the 17th century. Chandni Chowk (Silver Street), once the imperial avenue down which Shah Jehan rode at the head of lavish cavalcades, is today bustling with shops, stalls and silversmiths' ateliers.
On the way back visit Humayun's Tomb, the first Mughal garden tomb. Visitors are immediately struck by the tomb's resemblance to its more famous cousin - the Taj Mahal - with its four grand gateways, octagonal base-plan, soaring niche-shaped arches, lofty double domes and the symmetrical garden with its central canal.
Later in the evening, visit the Dargah of Sheikh Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya (1236-1325 AD), one of the most sacred shrines in India, venerated by devotees to this day. This is our first visit to a Dargah (shrine) on this tour. Hazrat Nizamuddin belonged to a fratinity of Sufi mystics, the Chistis, respected for their austerity, piety and disdain for material desires. His daily assemblies drew both the rich and the poor, who believed he was Mahboob-e-llahi (Beloved of God). He died in 1325 AD but his disciples call him a zinda pir, (living spirit) who continues to heed their pleas. A colourful winding alley leads to the shrine, crowded with mendicants and lined with stalls selling flowers, incense and chadors (ceremonial cloth).
It is due to the presence of his tomb that hundreds of important personalities including Emperor Humayun lie buried in the vicinity. Within the Dargah complex lies the tomb of the great poet-philosopher, Amir Khusrau, (1253-1325 AD) the legend saint who was Hazrat Nizamuddin's most illustrious disciple and dear friend. One of India's most celebrated poets. He authored 92 works. He enjoyed the patronage of several rulers of Delhi, who honoured him without exception. Experience a Qawwali performance sung in honour of the saint.
Note the very specific process which that the Qawwali follows. One starts with the singing of the song. In this psychological state the song is received in a manner that is not unlike standard forms of musical expression. The words are sung, quite repeatedly with variations intended to bring out deeper means of the lyrics. After awhile there is a repetition to the extent that the words cease to have a meaning; It is the goal here to lead the listener and performer alike into a trance (hal). In the ideal situation the participant is moved to a state of spiritual enlightenment (fana). Overnight hotel.

DAY 4: DELHI


In the morning depart for a sightseeing tour of Delhi's ancient sites. Visit Tughlakabad, one of the seven cities of Delhi, which once boasted of being the only major capital in north India, but also a fortified citadel , is today in a state of ruins. Having been built in the 14th century, it however is a tribute to the builders of this magnificent monument that it has managed to retain its majesty. However, on account of the neglect by the authorities managing the monuments in the country, the ruins today serve as a habitat for lizards, monkeys, rodents and insects of all kinds.
The Khirkee Masjid, situated in Khirkee Village, a village which aptly got its name from the masjid itself, is a unique structure in the sense that it is believed to be one of the only two covered masjids existing in the country. Also visit the grand Begumpuri Masjid, the earliest example of a Jama Masjid or congregational mosque found in India.
Thereafter visit one of Delhi’s most striking monuments is the 70-meter high Qutb Minar, which looms majestically across the wide plains of Delhi.
End today's tour with a visit to the Dargah of Qutub-ud-din Bakhtiar Kaki in Mehrauli. This is the shrine of the great Sufi saint, who next to his teacher, Khwaja Moin-ud-din Chisti of Ajmer, was one of the greatest Sufi saints in India. His shrine gives importance to the entire area which explains the presence of a large number of mosques and tombs in the vicinity. Overnight hotel.

DAY 5: DELHI/LUCKNOW


DELHI/LUCKNOW

DAY 6: LUCKNOW


Morning transfer to the airport to board the Jet Airways flight to Lucknow (9W741 - 1030/1130 hrs). On arrival, met/transferred to the hotel.
Spend two days exploring this historical city.
Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh, straddles both banks of the Gomti, a tributary of the mighty Ganga. It rose to importance during the Indo-Islamic medieval period, especially under the Mughals and subsequently under the Nawabs of Oudh and later the British. The city is renowned for its cultivated manners and refined urban culture, as well as its traditional crafts. These include the fine bidri - silver-inlaid black metalware, delicate jewellry and chikan work - intricate shadow-work embroidery. The city is the home of light classical North-Indian Hindustani music and Kathak, a traditional school of dance.
Visit the Bara Imambara, built in the year 1784 by the champion of charity Nawab Asaf ud Daula. It provided food to the famine stricken subjects of the Nawab. It is said that once even the rich persons worked here as laborers in the construction of this impressive monument. They worked at night to avoid the embarrassment of being noticed. The monument is known for its simplicity of style, sheer proportion and symmetry. The interior vaulted hall (162 ft x 53 ft x 50 ft) does not have even a single beam to support it. Unique acoustics have been used. Outside a staircase leads into the bhulbhulaiyan which is a complicated entanglement of zigzag paths. To the right is a row of cloisters concealing a huge well known as the Baoli. The Asafi Mosque and a stepwell also lie in the compound.
Asaf-ud-Daulah also erected the 18m high Rumi Darwaza, a great ornamental gate. This portal, embellsihed with lavish decorations, was the Imambara's west facing entrance.
Sikander Bagh was the summer house of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah. Situated in the Sikander Bagh Gardens, gets its name from Begum Sikander Mahal who was the favorite wife of the Nawab. It was 120 square yards in area surrounded by a high wall, with a summer house in its centre. The garden now houses the National Botanical Research Institute of India.
The Chhota Imambara, also known as the Hussainabad Imambara, was built by Mohammad Ali Shah as a mausoleum for himself. It is set inside a beautiful garden with a raised water reservoir in front of it. It is flanked by two replicas of the Taj Mahal inside which are the remains of Ali Shah's daughter and her husband. The main building is a domed structure with many exquisite turrets and minarets. The arcade on the exterior is adorned with verses from the Holy Quran. The calligraphic writing is in white against a black background. The interior is lavishly decorated with huge chandeliers, gilded mirrors, colorful stucco and Tazia in sandalwood wax and zari. Also visit the Jami Masjid, built by Muhammed Ali Shah in the early 19th century. Its walls are heavily ornamented and its arches are covered with fine stucco.
The Residency was built by the Nawabs of Oudh for the British resident, between the years 1780 and 1800, it became the last outpost of the English Resistance. It faced heavy bombardment and cannon firings during the mutiny of 1857. Now in a dilapidated state, the main building faces the river Gomti and has wide verandahs, a guard tower and several underground rooms. Surrounding it is an arrangement of terraced lawns which are beautifully flood-lit at night. The extraordinary La Martinere, was built by Major General Claude Martin, a French soldier of fortune. He dies in 1840 and in accordance with his will, became a school for boys.
During the course of these two days we will also visit some of the Dargahs around Lucknow, to witness a Qawwali performance in the evening. Overnight hotel.

DAY 7: LUCKNOW/AGRA


Early morning transfer to the railway station to board the Gomti Express # 2419 to Agra (Tundla Station - 0530/1020 hrs). On arrival met and transferred to the hotel.
Depart for a tour of Agra city. Visit the red sandstone Agra Fort, which stands like a crescent on the banks of the Jamuna river, enclosed by forbidding 20-meter high walls, with a 12- meter moat between them. Three successive Mughal emperors - Akbar, Jehangir and Shah Jehan - helped create this massive structure which contains Hindu and Muslim architecture. The Tomb of Itmad-ud-Daulah is a mausoleum on the left bank of the Jamuna, built by empress Nur Jehan in memory of her father. Though small, it is perfectly proportioned and regarded as the forerunner to the Taj Mahal, being the first Mughal building all in white marble. The highlight of your trip will probably be a visit to the Taj Mahal, surely the greatest monument to love and one of the wonders of the modern world. Completed in 1652, skilled craftsmen from Persia, Turkey, France and Italy and some 20,000 labourers worked for 17 years to build this edifice, constructed by emperor Shah Jehan as a mausoleum for his beloved queen Mumtaz Mahal.

DAY 8: AGRA/AJMER via FATEHPUR SIKRI


En route stop at Fatehpur Sikri, the deserted sandstone city, which was the glorious but short-lived imperial capital of Akbar, the greatest of Mughal emperors. Lying on a rocky ridge, it is today a haunting complex of empty palaces, forts and mosques.
A variety of architectural styles are found, since craftsmen representing many schools were employed. Visit the tomb of Sheikh Salim Chisti. Fatehpur Sikri was in fact a tribute by Emperor Akbar to his patron saint Sheikh Salim Chisti. The tomb of the saint is in red sandstone though later Jehangir got the edifice covered in white marble.
Continue on the drive to Ajmer, known throughout the subcontinent for the holy shrine, Dargah Sharif, the tomb of the great Sufi saint Khwaja Moin-ud-din Chisti (1143-1235). Overnight hotel.

DAY 9: AJMER


Hazrat Khwaja Moin-ud-din Hasan Chisti came to India in 1192 as an ambassador of peace and humanism. Popularly known as Gharib Nawaz (protector of the poor), he dedicated his entire life to the service of mankind. His spartan life spanned almost a 100 years and he embraced death in solitude while he had withdrawn to his cell for 6 days, asking not to be disturbed.
This was in 1236 and he was buried at the same spot. His tomb is visited by thousands of devout Muslims every year. The shrine was erected by Humayun. The Dargah also has mosques that were built by rulers such as Shah Jahan, Jahangir and Akbar. Emperor Akbar first made a pilgrimage to the shrine to thank the Khwaja after he conquered Chittor in 1567 and then after the birth of his son Prince Salim. From 1570 onwards, he is said to have made several annual pilgrimages to Ajmer on foot (from Agra). This is also when they built the kos minars (brick pillars marking every 2 miles) along the road from Agra for pilgrims.
The Dargah’s construction was started by Iltutmish and completed by Humayan. Later, Mughal rulers added mosques to the original structure to mark respect to the Saint. The present complex of the Dargah Sharief (Holy Shrine) is spread over a large area in the heart of the old city of Ajmer. The complex houses many buildings besides the Tomb, which were constructed over a period of time by various Kings and devotees.
One enters the complex through the Dargah Bazaar that leads to the first courtyard. The mosque here was built by Akbar and is now used as a hall for the poor. Notice the two big cauldrons here, known as degs. Pilgrims are expected to put their donations here and the collection is later divided among the poor. The saint's tomb is in the centre of the second court. It is enshrined in railings. The white-marble Shah Jahan Masjid in the inner a domed marble chamber and is surrounded by silver railings. The white-marble Shah Jahan Masjid in the inner courtyard is 33 meters long with 11 arches and a carved balustrade on three sides. Overnight hotel.

Day 10: AJMER/JAIPUR/MUMBAI


Drive 85 miles to Jaipur. Connect Jet Airways flight 9W372 to Mumbai (1930/2105 hrs). On arrival in Mumbai, met/transferred to an airport hotel. Overnight hotel

DAY 11: MUMBAI/INDORE/DHAR


Early morning transfer to the airport to board the Jet Airways flight to Indore, 9W381 - 0615/0750 hrs. On arrival drive to Dhar. Visit the Fort, cenotaphs and the Ladh Masjid. Overnight hotel.

DAY 12: MANDU


Mandu, the “city of joy” is situated on an isolated outcrop. Founded in the 10th century by Raja Bhoj, it has a chequered and varied history. Of particular interest are Jahaz Mahal (ship palace), the magnificent harem built by Ghiyas-ud-Din, Hindola Mahal (swing palace) and the Champa Baoli, an interesting building, with subterranean levels featuring cool wells and baths. The Jami Masjid, built in 1454 AD, dominates Mandu. It is patterned on the great mosque in Damascus, Syria and is claimed to be the finest and largest example of Afghan architecture in India. Behind the mosque is the imposing marble tomb of Hohang Shah. Shah Jahan is said to have sent his architects to Mandu to study this tomb before the embarked upon the design of the Taj Mahal. Return to Dhar for the night. Overnight hotel.

DAY 13: DHAR/INDORE/MUMBAI/HYDERABAD


Drive to Indore and fly to Mumbai by the Jet Airways flight 9W382 (0800/0910 hrs). On arrival in Mumbai connect Jet Airways flight to Hyderabad 9W451 (1525/1640 hrs). On arrival in Hyderabad, you will be met/transferred to the hotel. Overnight hotel.

DAY 14: HYDERABAD




DAY 15: HYDERABAD


Spend two full day exploring Old and New Hyderabad. Hyderabad, the capital of Andhra Pradesh, is the creation of the Qutb Shahis and dates back to 1512 when Sultan Quli, powerful feudatory of the weak king, followed the example of his neighbours and made himself master of the territory he governed. The Qutb Shahis were patrons of art and literature and fostered the culture and language known as Dakhni, the culture a synthesis of Indo-Persian and South Indian elements, the language a fore- runner of Urdu. Together with Golconda, Hyderabad served as the headquarters of the Qutb Shahis and their successors, the Asaf Jahis, better known under their title of the Nizams. A splendid courtly culture and building tradition flourished here for more than 400 years.
Golconda (Shepherd's Hill) was the citadel of the Qutb Shahi dynasty which ruled the Hyderabad region from 1507 to 1687. The remains of Golconda, lies west of New Hyderabad on an elevated plateau strewn with granite boulders. The highest of these rocky eminences, rising 130m above the plain, forms the core of Golconda Fort. The earlier mud 12th century mud fort that stood here wa stransformed into a splendid fortified city of grand palaces, mosques and gardens by successive Qutb Shahi rulers. The Fort was also famous for its great hoard of diamonds, mined nearby, which included the celebrated Kohinoor diamond.
Among the monuments of interest is the Purana Pul or 'old bridge,' built in 1578, which is compared to the Pont Neuf in Paris. The Charminar is the hub of the city and the masterpiece of Qutb Shahi architecture. Built of stone with stucco plastering and decoration, each side measures 100 feet and each face is pierced with a large pointed arch with a string course, a lotus bud above the point and decorative medallions on each side.
Between this and the minarets at the corners is a row of vertical arches topped by a prominent cornice. The streets in this area are lined with shops selling gold and silver jewellery, pearls, paper kites, rough glasses and cheap chinaware. Larh bazaar, a narrow street, is the traditional centre for bridal accessories and bangles. It leads to Chauk, traditional hunting ground for antiques. The Jami Masjid, built in 1597, is the oldest mosque in Hyderabad. The Mecca Masjid close by is the largest mosque in South India. The Badshahi Ashurkhana houses religious symbols of the Shias. The Darul Shifa, built in 1595, is one of the most important buildings left standing, though in rather poor condition. It is today used as a hospital and medical school.
The Salar Jung Museum boasts a large collection of Mughal jade, beautifully carved and inlaid gem-studded boxes, animal headed daggers and delicate translucent leaf-shaped drinking bowls. The museum also has an exceptional collection of manuscripts. miniature paintings, arms and armour, Chinese porcelain, Indian textiles, Indo-Persian glass and beautiful bidri-ware. Overnight hotel.

DAY 16: HYDERABAD/GULBARGA via BIDAR


The historic city of Bidar in the northern extremity of Karnataka is celebrated for its magnificent fort, mosques, tombs and madrasa, associated with the Bahmanis and their successors, the Baridis. Bidar became the Bahmani capital in 1424, when Firuz Shah's brother and successor Ahmad Shah moved his court here. With the collapse of the Bahmani dynasty at the end of the 15th century, control of the region passed into the hands of the Baridis.
The Bidar Fort, built in 1428 by Ahmed Shah Bahmani occupies a promontory of land that falls sharply to the plains on the north and the east. Though originally laid out by the Bahmanis, the Fort and its various features were remodelled under the Baridis. The Double Walls that contain the Fort are protected on the south by a triple moat hewn out of the rock. There are seven gateways in the Walls, all strongly defended.
Gulbarga was the first capital of the Bahmanis, from 1347-1525. This small provincial town contains some of the earliest examples of Islamic architecture in Karnataka when Gulbarga flourished as the capital of the Bahmani sultans, the first of the great Muslim kingdoms to dominate the Deccan. It is also widely known among the South Indian Muslims as the home of Syed Muhammad Gesu Daraz Chisti (1320-1422) who was instrumental in spreading pious Islamic faith in the Deccan.
The most striking remains in the town are the fort, with its citadel and mosque, the Jami Masjid and the great tombs in its eastern quarter - massive fortress like buildings with their distinctive domes over 30 m high. The fort lies west of the centre of the present town. Originally built by Ala-ud-din Bahmani, in the 14th century, most of the outer structures and many of the buildings are in ruins although the outer door of the west gate and the Bala Hissar (citadel) remain almost intact.
The Jami Masjid, was erected in 1367 and unlike any other mosque in Southern India, the whole area of 3,500 sq m is entirely roofed over by a dome over the mihrab, four corner domes and 75 minor domes making it unique among Indian mosques. It was built by Firoz Shah Bahmani (1397-1432). To its rear is the 14th century Bazaar Street lined with small chambers now converted into dwellings.
Another 14th century monument is the Shah Bazaar Mosque, to the north of the fort. Its domed entrance chamber leads into a courtyard with a prayer hall beyond. A street from here proceeds westwards to an arcaded portal flanked by lofty minarets. Behind this lies the Dargah of Sheikh Sirajuddin Junaydi, the spiritual preceptor of the early Bahmanis. The main compound houses a simple tomb in the early Bahmani manner and a small unadorned mosque.
The Dargah of the great Sufi mystic of the Chisti sect, Hazrat Gesu Nawaz (also known as Khwaja Bande Nawaz), who came to Gulbarga in 1413 during the reign of Firoz Shah Tughlaq is considered to be one of South India's holiest shrines. The two-storey tomb with a highly decorated painted dome had a mother of pearl canopy added over the grave. It was probably built during the reign of Mahmud Adil Shah (Firoz Shah Tughlaq's brother), a devoted follower, who gave the saint huge areas of land and built a college for him. The Dargah library has 10,000 books in Urdu, Persian and Arabic.
Another interesting complex is the Dargah of Shah Kamal Mujarrad. This funerary complex commemorates another saint who resided in Gulbarga. The complex has a plain tomb with a lofty dome, as well as a mosque, rest house and stables. The stucco ornamentation of the prayer hall is exuberant with multi-lobed bands of richly encrusted plaster framing the arches. The rest house has a central domed chamber entered through a graceful portico, contrasting with the stables, a long building with ten shallow domes.
The tombs of the Bahmani sultans are in two groups. A complex of seven royal tombs, known as Haft Gumbad, lies to the west of the dargah. Firuz Shah Bahmani is buried here in the largest and most elaborate of all the mausoleums.
The last monument worth visiting is the Langar Ki Mosque, which lies beside the road to Bidar. This mosque and its accompanying tomb belong to the first half of the 15 century. The prayer chamber is entered through triple arches, each with pointed lobes. The interior is distinguished by the transverse pointed vault with imitation timber ribs. Fine stucco ornamentation is seen in the wall niches, especially the mihrab.

DAY 17: GULBARGA/BIJAPUR




DAY 18: BIJAPUR


After breakfast depart for the 100 miles (3-hour) drive to Bijapur, the 15th century bastion of the Adil Shahis, with fortified walls, 10-km in circumference.
Bijapur was the capital of the Adil Shahi kings (1489-1686), one of the five splinter states formed when the Bahmani Muslim kingdom broke up in 1482. Bijapur is still strongly Muslim in character and it has many important monuments and historical ruins.
Visit the Gol Gumbaz dominates the eastern skyline near the railway station. It was build in 1626 as a mausoleum. Its massive dome rests on intersecting pendentive arches over and enormous square hall, the largest floor space in the world covered by a single dome. Literary meaning, 'round', it is the tomb of Mohammed Adil Shah (1627 -56), the seventh ruler of Adilshahi dynasty.
Built at his orders before his death, this gigantic mausoleum took 20 years to complete , which dominates the landscape of Bijapur for miles around. It has a floor area of 1700 sq.m., height of 51 m and diameter of 37 m. The walls are 3 m thick. The central dome, second in size only to the dome of St Peter's Basalica in Rome, stands unsupported by any pillars. The tick of a watch or the rustle of paper can be heard across a distance of 37 m in the Whispering Gallery. The acoustical phenomenon of this dome is such that a sound is echoed eleven times over. Under the dome are the tombs of the Sultan, his two wives, his mistress Ramba, his daughter and grandson.
The octagonal turrets which project at an angle and the huge bracketed cornic below the parapet, are important features of this monument. From the gallery around the dome, which can be reached by climbing up the turret passages, one can have a fabulous view of the town. The building complex includes a mosque, a Naqqar Khana, a gateway and a dharmashala. The edifice in front of the tomb has been converted into a museum. Listen in silence and the true power of the Gol Gumbaz becomes apparent.
Visit the Malik-e-Maidan, (lord of the plains), reputedly the largest medieval cannon in the world. It measures 4.45 m in length, 1.5 m in diameter & weighs 55 tons. Placed on the walls of the city, a unique feature of this legendary cannon of the Adil Shahis is that it is always cool to touch even under the blazing sun & when tapped gently it tinkles softly like a bell. The muzzle of the gun is shaped like the head of a lion with open jaws & between the carved fangs is depicted an elephant being crushed to death.
Also visit Ibrahim Rouza another mausoleum built in 1580, with its enclosed garden containing a mosque. It is said that the architects of the Taj Mahal studied this monument before embarking upon their own illustrious task. Rauza literally means a garden. The square enclosure consists of two buildings, one housing the tombs of Ibrahim Adil Shah II & his family & the other a mosque.
The tomb, evidently executed under the orders of Ibrahim Adil Shah (1580-1627) is noted for its striking symmetry of proportion, exquisite minarets cupolas, parapets & cornices & is supposed to have been an inspiration for the Taj Mahal at Agra. This monument shows the creativity of its Iranian born architect. Built on a single slab of bed-rock, the architect has attained a perfect balance on the site, with the mausoleum on the left and the prayer hall to the right. This whole structure lies above a basement which houses secret passages (used to store munitions and food) and also holds living quarters for the cavalry, with stables opposite.
The gardens are beautifully sculpted and are enclosed within an imposing wall and have some superb gateways. The architect's simple grave lies within the courtyard. He was buried there at his request, to be close to the Sultan.
Two stone chains (each carved from a single rock) hang from the sides of the prayer hall. Each door (made in teak wood and re-enforced in metal) in this complex is unique, with some excellent features. The door handles are iron and brass and provide for some intricate patterns, which are largely intact. The arches in the hallway surrounding the inner perimeter of the mausoleum are superbly crafted. The facades of the building provide for some stunning art-work in stone, including a map to the basement, which lies under the mausoleum.
An acoustic feature in this complex is worth mentioning. If you are standing at the mausoleum by the grave side of the Sultan, you can distinctly hear the prayers being said at the other end, in the prayer hall. Within the citadel lies the Anand Mahal (Hall of Pleasure). The Mehtar Mahal, with its fine relief work around the doorways, balconies and ceilings, is not a palace, as its name would suggest - it was built for the sweepers of the regal household.
Other monuments include the Jami Masjid, a mosque whose magnificent proportions are balanced by its understated ornamentation. Called Jami Masjid because the Khutba is recited here on Jumma ie. Friday, it is the largest & first constructed mosque in Bijapur.
It was built between 1557 -1686, most of it during Ali Adil Shah reign, who acquired the land after defeating the rich Ramaraja of Vijayanagar. The total area of the mosque is 10,810 sq m. The main part of the mosque stands to the west & has nine huge arches on their facade that deepen into five arches & form 45 compartments. The majestic tomb rises above the roof in a semicircle resembling the bud of a flower.
This imposing mosque (the rectangle is 170m x 70 m) is incomplete, lacking in two minarets. Aurangzeb extended the mosque in the east, the south & the north verandah & built the eastern gate. The original gateway is on the northern side. The interior of the mosque shows restraint, except for some decorative motifs on the apexes of the arches. The heavy curtain hangs over the "Mehrab", which has domes, minarets, niches with books, flower vases & Persian writings inscribed on it.
The Gagan Mahal (Palace of the Sky) was constructed by Ali Adil Shah I in 1561. It served as a royal palace for some time. There are three magnificent arches, the central one being the widest. The ground floor was the Durbar Hall and the first floor, now in ruins, was the private residence of the Royal family. Also visit the Mecca Masjid, a miniature mosque for the women of the court. The Assar Mahal is believed to contain some relics of Prophet Mohammed. It was constructed about 1646 by Mohammed Shah., There are Landscape paintings and designs on the walls and ceiling of the hall. Women are not allowed inside. Overnight hotel.

Day 19: BIJAPUR/KOLHAPUR/MUMBAI


This morning drive 86 miles to Kolhapur to board the train to Mumbai, The Mahalaxmi Express (1905/0635 hrs) - A/C II Tier. Overnight in the train.

DAY 20: MUMBAI


Arrive Mumbai at 0635 hours. You will be met and transferred to the hotel. Rest of the day at leisure. Late evening departure transfer to the airport to board onward flight.

DAY 21: DEPART MUMBAI


Flight departs Mumbai.

DAY 4: Drive JAIPUR-AGRA



END OF OUR SERVICES


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