When I was a little younger and was first listening to some English music, I fell in love with a song called Careless Whisper by George Michael. I’m sure many of you will like the song even today. After all, the very act of whispering is incredibly fascinating and mysterious at times, even romantic. It is this element of mystery that came up when I visited Gol Gumbaz in Bijapur city that is known for its Whispering Gallery.
I had read up a little on the Gol Gumbaz historical importance and also the splendid Gol Gumbaz architecture so I decided to make a sudden trip, being a solo and highly impulsive traveller. For those who cherish a few facts, Gol Gumbaz translates into Circular Dome and it is actually a mausoleum for the earlier ruler of Bijapur, Sultan Mohammed Adil Shah. History says it was built sometime in 1656 by Yaqut, an architect from Dabul or Dabhol in Maharashtra’s Ratnagiri District. Talk about doing my homework!
Gol Gumbaz Wowed Me From The Start
The architecture of Gol Gumbaz is something marvellous and took me by surprise (probably I was not expecting something as grand). It showcases the classic Islamic architectural style in its construction including the semi-circular doors, minarets and also the dome. The central dome has a 44 meter diameter which is the second biggest dome worldwide as I surprisingly found out from a local guide.
The first one on the list of biggest domes is the St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican which underlines the importance of this landmark. The dome is not supported here by any pillars and there is a 1,700 sq. meter chamber inside which is again one of the largest such spaces across the globe! And if you thought that I was done gawking at these architectural wonders then you’re wrong! I finally approached the famous Whispering Gallery.
Whispering Gallery- A Treat For Your Senses
The circular shaped gallery just below the tomb is the famous and iconic Whispering Gallery that everybody comes to visit. This is a scientific wonder and something that I cannot forget even till this day. Just whisper a little and the sound will be amplified and carried for considerable distances across the dome and people can hear them clearly. For an idea of the distance that the sound travels, let’s say 40 metres! Incredible isn’t it? Even I thought so!
Any sound that you make inside comes back through echoes for at least 7-8 times if not more! I experienced the magic of the gallery and these magical whispers when I started hearing echoes of sounds clearly from other people like their laughter, little titbits of conversation and so on. The interesting bit is that I couldn’t even see anyone near me but knew that there were others at the far end. You have to experience it to understand the eerie yet strangely enticing vibe that the Whispering Gallery exudes.
Still pleasantly surprised and shaken by the effect, I scrambled onto the top and clicked the looming Bijapur town and other attractions such as Bara Khamba, Ibrahim Roza and Jama Masjid that the guide (who had strangely joined me again) pointed out.
Vital Information For Travellers
If you’re itching to visit, do remember to check information regarding how to reach & timings. The timings are 10 AM to 5 PM on all days with the exception of Friday. Always reach early before the crowds start pouring in to really get the feel of the Whispering Gallery in a serene atmosphere.
You can travel to Bijapur from Bangalore via trains or roadways. Bangalore lies approximately 530 km away from Bijapur while it is located around 497 km away from Mumbai and is similarly connected through roads and trains. The Belgaum Airport is also 214 km away from Bijapur although there are a smaller number of flights available. Winter is the best time to visit since the heat may overwhelm you in the March-June period. I visited in September and the experience was pretty good. I recommend visiting anytime between September and February for the best weather.
Gol Gumbaz promises to serve up a feast of bygone times, architectural splendour, auditory magic and scientific wonder that you will find in very few places in India. The Whispering Gallery is not just about visiting a rare landmark; it’s about experiencing how the masterful powers of creators in ancient times still pack a solid punch when it comes to bowling over visitors for ages!
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