Ibrahim Rauza, Bijapur

I was recently travelling to Bijapur, Badami and Hampi for I had never explored this region of the country particularly with respect to the heritage that lies here. I spent only a little time in each place as I was on a tight schedule. Therefore, I shortlisted the major monuments to see in each town. I ended up seeing almost the whole of Hampi, Anegondi, Badami, Patadakal, and Aihole. However on the Bijapur leg of my trip, it started raining and although the weather was very beautiful, the streets were flooded and one could not even cross the road, forget travelling within a radius of 5 kilometers.

There were a lot of places in my list in Bijapur to visit, starting from the Fort, Ibrahim Rauza, Taj Bawadi, Gol Gumbaz, the list was endless. However due to bad weather I only ended up seeing Ibrahim Rauza. Essentially Ibrahim Rauza is a group of buildings which stands at a short distance outside the Mecca Darwaza, the principle western gate to Bijapur. It is a Tomb and Mosque complex, also known as Ali Roza, build in 1627. It contains the tomb of Ibrahim Adil Shah II, his queen Taj Sultana.

‘It was designed by the Persian architect, Malik Sandal (his grave also lies in the courtyard). The tomb (of Ibrahim Adil Shah II, his two sons and his mother) on the left and a mosque on the right within it are set in a walled garden (about 140 metres (460 ft) square) facing each other over an ornamental pond. The tomb as such is in a central chamber of 13 metres (43 ft) square and has a ceiling that is divided into nine squares with curved sides. Graceful minarets mark the corners of each symmetrical building, surmounted by a dome rising from a lotus petal base. Steps are provided to approach the raised platform on which the two structures have been built. It is said that this tomb provided the inspiration for building the Taj Mahal at Agra. The structure has been erected on a single rock slab and has a basement, which was used to store ammunitions and food. In the prayer hall in the mosque, there are two chains carved out of a single rock. It has impressive gateways. The doors are made of teak wood braced with metal strips and decorated. The inner perimeter of the Mausoleum has well crafted arches. The outer walls of the tomb have panels displaying geometric and calligraphic designs in the form of perforated screens and shallow relief. The windows and doors also have similar motifs, which allow light to penetrate into the tomb chamber. A special acoustic feature of the mosque mentioned is that standing next to grave of the Sultan inside the tomb at one end, prayers can be distinctly heard at the other end. Impressed by its architectural splendour, Henry Cousens, an expert in Art and Architecture called it the “Taj Mahal of the South”.’      _Wikipedia

Now if you notice that there are various other tomb and mosque complexes around India, Taj Mahal complex, Qutb Complex, Jamali Kamali Mosque and Tomb complex, and Isa Khan’s Tomb and Mosque in the Humayun’s Tomb complex to name a few. Although this is the first time I’ve seen the mosque and the tomb being given equal importance in terms of scale, proportions and architectural elements, even though the plinth of the mosque was 400 mm more than the tomb. It was also interesting to see how the double height in the Mausoleum’s colonnade has been cleverly scaled down by using a chajja on the threshold of the Mausoleum’s inner chamber. Inside the Mausoleum, it was interesting to see the hanging flat stone ceiling which was the least expected by me. The ceiling is made up of slabs set edge to edge with exceptionally strong mortar. The mosque which sits on the west within the enclosure and is built in a similar style. The front face has five arches, and each corner has a minaret topped with an onion dome. Under the cornice of the mosque are heavy chains with pendants, each carved from a single block of stone.

As a habit, I try to sketch a more or less proportionate plan of the place that I visit. It gave me immense pleasure to sketch the very challenging plan of the place this time. Although while comparing this plan to the original plan, I noticed a few discrepancies which is very normal if you are sketching the plan on site. Although, these were mainly because I had limited access to the whole monument and could not enter the guarded areas of the complex. Attached below are the accurate plan and the plan that I sketched of the complex. To be very honest, sketching a plan of the place gives you a sense of architecture more than reading about it.