Visit Gagan Mahal in Bijapur(Vijayapura): Mesmerizing and Splendid Historical Monuments In Karnataka (2021)
When it comes to visiting historical monuments, India is a treasure trove! You can go to any part of India and you will surely come across splendid historical monuments which will leave you mesmerized. One such historical marvel is the Gagan Mahal in Bijapur, Karnataka. This megastructure is a sight to behold and definitely a place worth visiting if you are in or around Bijapur.
Read on to find out all about the structure of Gagan Mahal, its history, the best time to visit, timings, how to reach there, and more.
History of Gagan Mahal
Gagan Mahal which translates to Sky Palace stands true to its name with its majestic arches which seem as if they are touching the sky! This architectural beauty in Bijapur or Vijayapura was built in 1561 by the then ruler Adil Shah I and is a testament to the fine craftsmanship and skill of the artisans who built it. Adil Shah I is also credited for building a number of other historical monuments as well in Bijapur, such as the Jami Masjid, Ibrahim Rauza, and Chand Bawdi. All these beautiful structures together have made Bijapur a sought-after tourist place, especially for history and architecture aficionados.
The Gagan Mahal was constructed to serve dual purposes. The lower area served as the durbar of Adil Shah while the upper storey was used by the royal family as their private residential palace.
Structure & Architecture of Gagan Mahal
The first thing that anyone visiting the Gagan Mahal will notice is the huge imposing central arch! This arch is known to be the widest and tallest of all the arches in Bijapur. This central arch has a massive span of more than 60 feet in length and 56 feet in height with two smaller sized arches on its either side. All the three arches together look extremely expensive and are a sight to behold for the visitors.
The durbar hall looks like a huge opera stage with one side completely open. The purpose behind keeping one side open was to allow outsiders and the audience a view of all the various events happening inside. The audiences had a clear view of all the events such as wrestling, music, sports, royal events, etc. On the exterior, Gagan Mahal is surrounded by moat and stunning citadel walls.
The ground floor of the Gagan Mahal was dedicated for the purpose of serving as the royal assembly hall while the first floor was dedicated for serving the purpose of the private residential area of the Sultan. The Gagan Mahal had spectacular wooden work which added to its majestic beauty. The entire ceiling of the main hall was made up of wood and it was supported with the help of wooden beams and pillars. It has had amazing wooden window frames and projected wooden balconies. The wooden pillars which supported the wooden floor were quite massive and a beauty in themselves.
The wooden protected balconies were used by the royal family members, especially the women to observe and view the various royal events, sporting events, cultural events, etc. They also had a clear view of the Sultan sitting on his throne and taking part in the proceedings of the durbar hall. The royal members had access to staircases on the back wall which they could use to go up and down the Gagan Mahal. These staircases also played an important role in helping the royal family members to access their private rooms such as living rooms, kitchen, halls, bathrooms, etc., without being observed by any of the outsiders.
Thus, the Gagan Mahal was constructed in such a way that it provided all the necessary safety and privacy to the royal family members.
The wooden pillars and balcony frames were painted beautifully which gave the entire Gagan Mahal an aesthetic and royal look. The Gagan Mahal also features as an important landmark in history as it was the place where Aurangzeb has descended on the throne after defeating Sikander, the last Adil Shahi ruler. It was here that Sikander was brought in chains as a captive while Aurangzeb sat on the throne.
This three-arched, two-storied historical landmark is one of the best tourist attractions in Bijapur if you want to explore Indo-Islamic architecture style. Apart from its historical importance and visual beauty, this sightseeing spot is a great place to sit, relax, and spend time with your family and friends. Though the structure today is almost in ruins due to lack of proper maintenance by the respective authorities, it is now part of splendid park, which makes it worth visiting.
Timings for Visiting Gagan Mahal
Gagan Mahal is open for visitors every day from 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM. With sprawling lawns around it, Gagan Mahal is the perfect spot to spend a leisure afternoon or lazy evenings with your family and friends.
The beautiful view of Gagan Mahal’s majestic arches will leave you with some lasting impressions and memories.
You can easily spend one to two hours exploring Gagan Mahal and losing yourself in its majestic and architectural beauty.
Best Time to Visit Gagan Mahal
You can visit Gagan Mahal any time throughout the year; however, it is recommended that you visit it between October to February. Travelling to Bijapur during this time will ensure that you experience good weather and climate which is neither too hot nor too cold. This will allow you to explore the various tourist attractions of Bijapur leisurely without getting worried about sunstrokes or drenched in the rain, etc.
Gagan Mahal Entry Fee
Visitors to Gagan Mahal will have to pay an entry fee of INR 5. You can carry your cameras as well without paying any extra charges.
Tourists can easily reach Bijapur via air, rail, and road.
If you wish to travel by air, then you will need to book your tickets to the Belgaum Airport which is one of the closest airports to Bijapur. It is located at a distance of 205 kms. The Belgaum airport caters to flights from major cities such as Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, etc.
If you prefer travelling by train, then you can easily get down at the Bijapur railway station. Trains from a number of cities pass through this station such as Bangalore, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Hospet, Vasco da Gama, etc. The Bijapur railway station falls under the South Central Railway’s Hubli division.
If you love road trips, then you can easily drive down to Bijapur as it has good road connectivity to a number of places in west and south India such as Bangalore, Mumbai, Hampi, Belgaum, Pattadakal, Badami, Aihole, etc. The National Highway 13 passes through the Bijapur district.
Tourists can plan to visit Bijapur during a long weekend which will give them sufficient time to visit all the major tourist attractions in Bijapur. Once you reach Bijapur, you can easily visit all the tourist spots including Gagan Mahal which is just 2 kms away from the main city, by hiring local auto-rickshaws. If you are planning to drive down, then you can use your own vehicle to travel within Bijapur.
So go ahead and plan your Bijapur itinerary and make sure to include the historical marvel – Gagan Mahal!