Mehtar Mahal, Bijapur – A Palace built By The King’s Sweeper!
The ancient walls of Bijapur city in Karnataka boasts of a plethora of Islamic Mughal, architectural digests. The Mehtar Mahal, Bijapur is one such example that has been a point of interest for ages.
Three levels high, the Mehtar Mahal, Bijapur lies in the complex of the Bijapur Fort. While not very outlandish and grand, its stunning minarets carved with floral and avian designs are definitely noteworthy. The Shah Emperors were always very tolerant about both Hindu and Muslim sentiments. Thanks to their cordial relations with the subjects and their Persian origin, the structures built during their dynasty in Bijapur reflects the fusion of Indian and Saracenic, Ottoman or Iranian style.
Karnataka Tourism features Bijapur City, which is now officially called Vijayapura or Vijaypur as a significant attraction in its list of popular destinations. Located in Bijapur, now known as Vijayapura, the Mehtar Mahal Mosque dates back to 1610 when the Shah Dynasty was dominant in southern India. Legend has it that Emperor Adil Shah II’s sweeper contributed the gold coins presented to him by the emperor to create this humble 17th-century mosque, thereby giving Mehtar Mahal, Bijapur the name – The Sweeper’s Palace.
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How To Reach Mehtar Mahal, Bijapur
Mehtar Mahal or Mihtar Mahal is located around 2.8km from Bijapur Railway Station. You can hire a taxi or bus to reach the Bijapur Fort.
Depending on the traffic, a drive to the fort will take around 15 minutes. It is accessible via MG Road or Vijayapur Sindagi Road as well as Jamiya Masjid Road. The bus station in Godbole Mala is just around 140 m from the Bijapur Fort.
If you visit Bijapur with the Deccan Odyssey, you don’t have to worry about ways to reach Mehtar Mahal. You will in the trusted hands of our staff who will take to you to this incredible monument themselves.
Story Of Mehtar Mahal, Bijapur
What is now the Bijapur district headquarters in Karnataka, was once ruled by the Persian Adil Shahi dynasty from the late 15th to the late 17th century. As a part of the South Indian dynasty, Bijapur was made the ruling capital under the hands of Yusuf Adil Shah, the founder of Shah Dynasty.
Yusuf Adil Shah became Bijapur’s reigning governor and separated the empire from the Bahamani dynasty of Deccan which was in gradual decline at the time. Being peaceful rulers while patronising both Islam and Hindu religions, the Shahi emperors were often under the hegemony of other Muslim rulers of South India.
The Mehtar Mahal, Bijapur was built during the reign of Ibrahim Adil Shah II who reigned from 1579 till 1627. The emperor was diagonised with leprosy, and a soothsayer advised him to gift gold coins to a sweeper as ‘inaam’ (gift) for a speedy recovery. Finally, the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb took charge of the Bijapur dynasty.
Adil Shah II’s numerous visits to a sweeper further lead him to use his earnings to build the mosque – The Mehtar Mahal in Bijapur – and the rest is history. There is also legend attached to Mihtar Mahal that says it was a fakir (a Muslim religious ascetic) who used the gold coins gifted by Adil Shah II to build the monument.
Architectural Highlights Of Mihtar Mahal, Bijapur
The Indo-Saracenic styled gateway of the three-storied mosque will lead you to the perfectly manicured garden and the entrance of the main mosque. There are three beautiful arches depicting cornices on the carved corbels. The highlights of the Mehtar Mahal, Bijapur, though, are the two slender carved minarets, which have balconies supported by stone brackets. The Indian architecture-styled galleries feature Hindu stone trellis design, a major contributor to Vijayapura tourism today.
Another enchanting feature of the Mihtar Mahal is the Indian-styled carving of a flock of swans and birds. The details of these carvings on the minarets and brackets attract archaeologists and photographers around the world. You can take the old-charmed stairways onto the first floor, and find magnificent motifs of lions and elephants. With a flat roof surrounded by round minarets, Mehtar Mahal is among the first architectural monuments of India depicting a simple, yet elegant style of Islamic and Hindu cultures of the Deccan region.
5 Major Attractions Near Mehtar Mahal In Bijapur
From Bijapur Fort to Gol Gumbaz, Jama Masjid to Elavia House, Adil Shah’s Tomb to Jala Manzil, almost all of the Bijapur tourist places are of high historically significance. The monuments represent the Islamic dynasty and its impressive influence on the culture, architecture, traditions and overall functioning of the Bijapur Empire. If you visit Mehtar Mahal In Bijapur, do not miss-out the five popular attractions nearby.
Standing like a sentinel over the city of Vijayapura, the 16th century Bijapur Fort was bult during the reign of the Chalukyas. The Bijapur fort was captured by Alauddin Khilji and further modified by Shah Emperor, Yusuf Adil Shah. The semi-ruined structure has touches of Ottoman Turkish, Indian and Islam architecture. The fort area is also studded with historical palaces, tombs, mosques, and gardens, built by Adil Shah. You will find beautiful structures like Arkilla, Jama Masjid, Gagan Mahal, Mehtar Mahal Mosque, Mausoleum of Ibrahim Rauza, Chand Bawdi, Asar Mahal and Taj Bawdi, Malikah-e-Jahan and Jal Mahal – each of which is a famous architectural site in itself. The fort rises at about 50ft and houses 96 massive crenellated bastions along with two moats. The five main decorated entrances are fortified with ten additional bastions.
Established in 1656 with an area of 1,700 sq.m, the Gol Gumbaz features Deccan architecture and is dedicated to the Shah ruler, Mohammed Adil Shah. The mausoleum also has a museum at the eastern entrance along with four whispering galleries – each at the openings of the four corner minarets with seven levels. Listed among the largest single-chamber monuments in the world, the dome of Gol Gumbaz is not supported by any pillar, and its acoustic features are noteworthy. Another highlight is that Gol Gumbaz has the ‘bijli patthar’ suspended from a cornice that is known to protect the tomb of Shah from lightning. Sounds interesting, isn’t it?
Known with different names like Jami Masjid, Jama Masjid, Jumma Masjid, and Jamia Masjid, it is the largest mosque listed in Bijapur and is a major attraction for Vijayapura tourism. But even though construction work of the Jama Masjid began in 1578, it was never completed. During Aurangzeb’s reign, 2250 rectangular tiles in the form of the prayer rugs were laid, and verandas were built.
The façade of the monument has five interior arches that enclose 45 compartments. The Indo-Islamic architectural style is evident in the arcaded prayer area. The monument is rectangular and has a semi-circular dome. The gilded mehrab bears the inscription of Persian verses while the interior walls feature psalms from the Quran, carvings, motifs and abstract patterns.
One of the famous places to visit in Bijapur, Ali Roza or Ibrahim Rouza is the mausoleum for Ibrahim Adil Shah II along with his empress Taj Sultana and two sons. This square monument has twin buildings, which feature delicate carvings by Malik Sandal, whose tomb lies in the courtyard.
Between the tombs on left and mosque to the right is the 140sq.m walled garden and the ornamental pond. The garden leads to the entrance to Ibrahim Rouza, one of the famous masjids in Bijapur. The central chamber has a ceiling with nine square segments. Carved minarets surmounted by a dome corners the buildings. In its prayer hall has teak-wood doors have decorated metal strips where you will find two chains, cut from a single rock.
Supposedly one of the biggest forged medieval cannons of the world, the enormous Malik-e-Maidan cannon is 14 ft in length, 4.9 ft in diameter and weighs around 55tn. Built by Emperor Ibrahim Adil Shah II, the cannon muzzle has a lion head shape with jaws open. In 1854, it was auctioned for INR 150, but thankfully the auction was cancelled. Named after the 1565 Talikota Battle when Adil Shah II acquired Vijaynagar, the gun remains cool in all seasons, and even a mild tapping creates resonance. According to inscriptions, the cannons were cast at Ahmadnagar by Muhammad Rumi from bell metal.
Places To Visit In Karnataka Near Mehtar Mahal, Bijapur
Spending as few as two to threee days in Bijapur will not be enough to learn about Bijapur’s rich cultural history that lasted for centuries. Your Karnataka tourism will be incomplete if you miss out the following places located near Bijapur –
The former capital of the Chalukya dynasty, Aihole is often referred to as the cradle of the Indian Temple Architecture, thanks to 125 temples made of stone carvings dating back to the 4th century and through the 12th century.
Ravana Phadi Cave, Lad Khan Temple, Hucchappayya Matha, and gudi, Mallikarjuna temples, etc. are some of the famous Hindu temple sites that house life-sized idols such as the Aihole Durga of Vijayapura. A two-storied Buddhist monastery with the intricately carved chamber and pillars as well as the Jain monuments like Meguti Hill, Charanthi Matha, Jain Cave temple and Yoginarayana are also popular.
A Bijapur tourism holiday is truly incomplete without paying a visit to Aihole, also known as Aryapura, Ahivolal or Aivalli. The Aihole inscriptions composed by Ravikeerthi, depicts the reign of Chalukya king Pulakeshi II in Kannada and Sanskrit language.
One of the famous Bijapur tourist places is Pattadakal, also known as Raktapura or Pattadakallu. The Pattadakal group of monuments are built according to Chalukyan architecture.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Pattadakal group of monuments have ten prominent temples dedicated to Shiva, such as the Virupaksha Temple, Papanatha Temple, Kashi Vishwanath Temple, and Jambulingeshwara Temple, to name a few. The Jain Narayana Temple from 9th century features the Tirthankara statue, sandstone pillars with carvings of nidhi, vyala, purnaghata, and dancers, as well as the mandapa with seven bays. The inscriptions in Papanatha, Sangameshwara and Virupakhsha Temples bear invaluable information about kings and queens such as Vikramaditya and Vijayaditya.
A former capital of the Badami Chalukyas during 540-757 A.D in the name of Vatapi, Badami is a famous site in Karnataka tourism. It is known for temples featuring Indian rock-cut style with resemblance of the Wild West. The four cave temples built from sandstone are located within a ravine on the rugged foothills of the red sandstone outcrops surrounding the Agastya Lake.
Other attractions include the Dattatreya Temple, Badami Fort, Banashankari Temple, Mallikarjuna Temple and Jambulinga Temple. There is also a mosque near the Bhutanatha Temple complex that features a waterfall during the monsoon. Among the 18 inscriptions of Badami, one can be traced back to Pulakeshin period, one recorded by Kappe Aryabhatta as well as the one 12th century inscription in Bhutanatha Temple.
The centre of the Vijayanagara Empire, Hampi was the second largest city of the medieval era by the 16th century. Hampi is home to over 1600 remnants of riverside forts, sacred temples, royal buildings, pillared halls, water structures, memorials and mandapas from the last South Indian Hindu kingdom predating the Vijayanagara Empire. Covered by impenetrable hills on three sides and Tungabhadra River on the other, there are Hindu monuments namely Virupaksha Temple complex, Krishna Temple complex, Hazara Rama Temple, Vitthala Temple complex, Mahanavami Platform, fountains, elephant stables, etc. The Ahmad Khan Mosque and Ganagitti Temple complex are also unique monuments of Muslim and Jain significance, respectively.
Best Time To Visit Bijapur
From October through early March is the best time to explore the places to visit in Bijapur. During this period, the weather remains relatively cool, and sightseeing is more pleasant.Apart from winter, you can also choose monsoon, i.e. June through September for short trips as, during shoulder seasons, the place is less crowded. It is recommended to skip the summer months, especially May and June, as the temperature increases to 42 °C often. Also, check the regular timings to visit the tourist attractions such as the Mehtar Mahal, Bijapur that remains open from morning to evening.
How to Reach Bijapur
You can reach Mehtar Mahal on your Bijapur tourism by availing the following transportation:
Belagavi Airport or Sambre Airport (IXG) is located at a distance of 198 km and is the closest airport from Bijapur. You can also reach Bijapur from Hubballi Airport that is 20 km away via NH52. Coming to Belgaum or Hubli from Mumbai and Bengaluru will be a good option as there is good connectivity of flights.
The nearest railway option to explore the Bijapur tourist places is Bijapur railway station (BJP), which is well-connected to major cities like Pune, Mumbai, Bikaner, Hyderabad, Varanasi, etc. Trains are also available at Basavana Bagewadi Road (BSRX).
You will get regular buses from Bijapur City Bus Stand, which lies on MG Road and is well-connected to major cities like Hubli, Bengaluru, Badami, Belgaum, Gulbarga, Hampi, Aihole, etc. through NH-13. If you are travelling by car, the nearest cities are Solapur (98km), Bagalkot (83km), Badami (119km), Hubli (198km), Gulbarga (166km) and Belgaum (213km).
Founded by Chalukyas, Bijapur is a hotspot of artistic and architectural fusion since the tenth and eleventh centuries. The dynasties have changed from Shah to Mughal, and over time, while it has lost its ancient glory, the monuments still bear the vivid reflection of cultural, architectural and artistic excellence.
From Mehtar Mahal, Bijapur to the mausoleums within the fort complex, there are an array of marvels in Vijayapura (former Bijapur). The ‘City of Victory’, rightfully earns its name Vijayapura, owning to its glorious history under the Chalukya and Shah dynasties. Hop onto the Deccan Odyssey and we will take you on one of the most memorable holidays of you life.
Edited by: Jovita Elveera Mendonca