Friday, July 7, 2017

A journey from 6th to 16th Century

The Gol Gumbaz
The temples at Pattadakal, a UNESCO Wold Heritage Center. 
It just took me little over 2 hours to cover the 100 odd kilometers from Badami to Bijapur. But it wouldn’t be wrong to say that it was a journey from 6th to 16th century. The landscapes remained the same with a medley of contrasting colors exploding all around you; the lush greenery on both sides of the meandering road, the freshly ploughed brown earth and the clear blue sky with piercing sun. It would be a crime to roll up your car windows and switch on AC. What’s the fun if you don’t hear the various noises on the countryside with wind softly patting your face? While I enjoyed my morning drive from Badami to Bijapur, rechristened as Vijayapur, I was hit by jealously looking at the bunch of villagers sitting leisurely as the golden yellow maize ears were spread on the roadside for drying. I waved at them and they waved back. While I was still fascinated by what I just saw, my driver told me to expect more such views on the way. And he was right. On the way I was greeted by loads of onions, sweet potatoes and other seasonal harvest crops drying on the roadsides. Though it’s a common sight in the country side in India, it still amuses me. A group of villagers sit together chatting away to glory while they watched over their harvest from the passers-by and the animals. Such sights make me nostalgic and make me take a trip down the memory lane when I chased the crabs perched on the golden yellow beach at my village, when I climbed the lighthouse and watched the blue Bay of Bengal that seemed closer than it looked, and how I soaked myself playing with the waves, building sand castles…ah! the simple pleasures of village life.
While the landscapes remained same from Badami to Bijapur (I like calling it Bijapur), the centuries old architecture changed. It was like travelling in a time machine as the 6th Century old temples, built in the rich Vimana and Nagara style, disappeared slowly and I found myself in a city that housed palaces and tombs built in the Persian and Indian fusion architecture. Both Badami and Bijapur were the capital cities of two dynasties – Chalukyas and Adil Shahs, separated by 10 centuries that ruled northern part of Karnataka and the adjoining states during their times. 
The Adil Shahs came from erstwhile Persia which is today’s Iran and made Bijapur as their capital in their times. Today Bijapur is a bustling town. People from nearby villages flock here to buy/sell goods other than an impressive number of tourists who visit Bijapur every year. Just like any other Indian city or town, it’s an organized chaos on the roads as people seem to deal with it easily. But my eyes wandered to the old buildings peeping from behind the newly built ones. Though the brownish faƧade of the old structures looked pale compared to the freshly painted new building, their curvy bends, the self-designed motifs on the walls and window panels were charming. Since long I’ve associated Bijapur with Gol gumbaz. I was yet to come face-to-face with its sheer size but its huge dome could be seen from a few kilometers. I decided to save the best for the last.  One can’t ignore the numerable small tombs all around the city. According to the historians, they were the tombs of soldiers who died, mostly during peace times. Most of these tombs were built by the fellow soldiers whenever anyone among them died. Today, there are roughly 200 tombs across Bijapur city!  My guide joked that during peace there wasn’t much work for a soldier! Hmm....I chose to ignore that.

You can view photographs from Badami and Bijapur along with captions here.