The Best Places to See in Bijapur, Central India
I never planned to visit Bijapur. I was in Hampi when I realised I didn’t need an 18-hour overnight bus ride to Mumbai in my life, so I opened Google Maps and looked at some options. Bijapur, in the state of Karnataka, was in the general direction I was headed and was only a four-hour bus ride away — it was an easy decision! I spent a day looking around Bijapur (which is definitely enough time) and saw some interesting old relics including a couple of tombs and various ruins. Thinking of visiting this part of India? keep reading to discover the best places to see in Bijapur!
My day of sightseeing in Bijapur (also called Vijayapura) started at its most famous sight, the Gol Gumbaz. This massive tomb dominates the area and easily competes with India’s more famous mausoleums. I walked around the outside in total isolation, but things were about to get a lot louder.
The Gol Gumbaz is most famous, at least with Indian tourists, for the way the interior amplifies sound. Climb to the top level and make any kind of sound and you (and everyone else inside) will hear it much louder. The click of my camera turning on and off suddenly filled the room. I did several other subtle sounds (finger clicks, quiet coughs etc) and was amazed at how loud they became. Of course, many other people there weren’t quite so polite. People started screaming and shouting, which got annoying (and extremely loud) quickly. Still though, cool place!
Hazarat Hashimpeer Dargah
This little temple / shrine close to the Gol Gumbaz attracts both Hindu and Muslim devotees and is a symbol of peace and harmony. It seems like more of a “local” attraction but it’s a cool place and there was a market lining the street leading to it — the whitewashed buildings and general vibe reminded me of Morocco or southern Spain.
Walking the Streets of Bijapur
One of the best things to do in Bijapur is to walk the historic streets. I walked from the Gol Gumbaz to Jama Masjid and along that road for a while. There are heaps of decaying old buildings to see and some typical Indian street scenes like cows rummaging through rubbish and people passing by on all sorts of vehicles. After a while I flagged down an auto-rickshaw and headed to my next destination.
FURTHER READING: India Travel Tips: How to Survive Your First Trip to India
This is the other popular place to see in Bijapur and was one of the sights that convinced me to visit in the first place (if you’re a regular reader you’ll know I love a good set of ruins or pretty much anything historic). This tomb was built in 1627 and is full of minarets and other artistic flourishes common in the Muslim architecture of the time. I visited in the midday heat and conditions weren’t great for photos, but hopefully you get an idea of what it’s like.
City Walls / Other Historic Sights
From Ibrahim Rouza I walked back along the main road to see remnants of Bijapur’s old city walls. These haven’t been well preserved but are still worth a look. The Upli Burz (and old watch tower) is nearby and I met some kids up there who were keen for a chat. Once they saw my camera they wanted me to take photos of them. I guess they thought it was way better than it was (it was the cheapest DSLR I could find in 2012). The light was also terrible. It’s fair to say they would have been disappointed with the results! From there I walked towards the fort area (close to the bus station) where the last set of sights on my (mostly) walking tour of Bijapur were located.
The area close to the bus station features the remnants of various palaces and tombs. Some of the monuments were cool to see (and made for a good spot to hide from a brief spell of rain that passed through), but the palaces aren’t quite as impressive / well preserved as others in India. It was also extremely hot in the afternoon (over 40 degrees) so I rushed through the last bit and returned to my hotel. It was a fun day of sightseeing — I saw some nice old buildings, talked to heaps of friendly locals and ate about four ice creams. Ice cream can be a life saver when travelling around India during summer!
Bijapur Travel FAQs
- How do you get to Bijapur? I took local bus from Hospet (close to Hampi) and it took around four (or maybe five) hours. Local buses aren’t very comfortable, but they are cheap, and as long as you get a seat you should be alright. It can get hot on these buses, so a window seat could be a good idea, but then you’ll have less leg room. Tough decision! From Bijapur I travelled on another local bus to Aurangabad. It took all day and was soul destroying. I didn’t think that through very well when planning the route in the first place!
- Where to stay in Bijapur? I booked places ahead in most cities during my recent trip to India. I didn’t in Bijapur and had to try five different hotels before I found one with an available room. I stayed at Hotel Madhuvan — it was nice (no aircon in the cheap rooms though) and was a short rickshaw ride from the bus station.
- Tips for getting around Bijapur? I walked most places but needed an auto-rickshaw to get to and from the bus station. I had an early bus ride on the day I left and had to stand out on the street and wave down a driver in the dark. I ended up waving down an autorickshaw driver and he only wanted 10 INR to take me to the bus station. It was only around 2 km, but it was the cheapest ride I’ve ever had in India. It was meant to be a shared rickshaw but no one else got in and he wouldn’t let me pay more, which is pretty much unheard of in India.
Are you planning a trip to Bijapur? Let me know in the comments below!