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Gol Gumbaz, Vijayapura (Bijapur) suffered minor damages in August, 2021- Will the ASI avoid future damages?

Gol Gumbaz.thehindu.com

Gol Gumbaz.thehindu.com

Above images:  Images showing damages on the exterior of the Building. Well built cornice came off the outer wall  from a height of 90 feet due to incessant rains in August 2021……. 

Stunningly imposing and impressive with 7 floors, stairways and four minarets, the impeccable  architectural style of  the 17th century CE  Gol Gumbaz of   Vijayapura (Bijapur), Karnataka, is a unique heritage structure. Built around 1650 in  Indo-Islamic style, with 124 feet diameter, it is one of the largest domes in India, perhaps the second one in the world  resting on eight intersecting arches. There are no pillars in  the structure and  the massive  walls around the dome are  an added advantage to bear the huge weight.  Built on a plot of 70 acres of land, it is the tomb of Mohammed Ail Shah (1627-1657; erstwhile 7th ruler of the dynasty) and his  cenotaph is in the middle of the polygonal podium that can be accessed through flight of steps. 

Inside the dome Gol Gumbaz,  Vijayapura (Bijapur), KA,
17 CE Gol Gumbaz, .deccanherald.com

It’s  architect  was one Yaqut of Dabul who designed it using  ”Deccan architecture” on a terrain made of hard rock. Ruler Adil Shah took more than 20 years to complete the mausoleum. It is a fine structure just like the Taj of Agra but for lack of embellishment which the ruler avoided for unknown reasons. Further, he used mostly the locally available construction materials in the Deccan region.  The resting place of King Adil Shah and his family members is a major tourist spot and heritage lovers, architects and   archaeologists from other parts of India and countries  visit this site which is being managed by the ASI.   

It has the unique distinction having a massive dome with  the whispering gallery at its base taking  a circular pathway.  A mere whisper on one side of the passage  echoes several times around the other side and travels across a large distance Here, one can experience special acoustics more clearly when the place is quiet or the din is at low level.  A breathe-taking design style unparalleled in the Deccan. The gallery provides a nice view of the town near-by.

It is quite shocking and unfortunate a  small part  of the support bracket, also called the chajja or cornice, on the eastern side of the mausoleum broke off from the structure from a height of 90 feet in August 2021. The fallen bricks were shattered and strewn all around upon impact. The heavy SW monsoon rains lashed this region of  north Karnataka and this resulted in minor damage on the exterior. There were no people in the vicinity, hence no casualty was  reported. Further, this area was beyond the reach of the public.

Gol Gumbaz Vijayapura(Bijapur) commons.wikimedia.org

Above image:  A partial view of the huge Gol Gumbaz and one of the four dome-capped octagonal tower seven stories high with a staircase inside. Vijayapura (Bijapur), Karnataka state. The building with 124 feet diameter dome  is on a sprawling 70 acres and  was built as a mausoleum for Mohammed Adil Shah in 1656…….

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI),  Vijayapura  was preparing a report on the damages  to the exterior chajja upon spot inspection. As for restoration, according to the ASI, care had to be taken as the structure was a historical one and and conservation work had to be done very slowly, using materials that were originally used. ”At the end of the monsoon, when humidity in the air is lesser, we will begin the repairs. That will strengthen the structure, apart from making it look like it was earlier” according to the ASI official 

 Henry Cousens, the 19th century archaeologist, in the colonial period documented many  monuments of the Deccan and mentioned  about the chajja.  A fine decorated grand cornice executed by the early builders in this region. Cousens also reported that in 1900 cornice in the front part was damaged and it was restored by the British without damaging its heritage value.  Gol Gumbaz, 450 year old centrally protected  monument  is an architectural splendor of the past  era and is  part of the culture of this region. It must be preserved for the posterity. 

According to some sources, “Gol Gumbaz is suffering minor damages once in two or three years. However, it is for the first time a portion of the roof has collapsed. It is not an easy task ”to repair or fix the damaged roof due to technical issues.”  Heritage lovers  for several years have started crying hoarse over the deteriorating condition of Gol Gumbaz in Vijayapura. Due to lack of poor maintenance, the amazing historical building is disintegrating as time goes by.  Yet another fact is the  age of the mausoleum – more than hour hundred years old.  There were cracks on the  dome and corner minarets. Even walls and the parapet of the building had  cracks which caused  rainwater seepage  inside the building, weakening the  the structure. Media reports point out that  white color along the walls and staircase have turned brownish because of water leaks and the iconic structure will face severe damages if no repairs are carried out periodically. .  

ASI has  to be extra careful and take precaution before the arrival of the yearly SW monsoon that brings in  heavy rains. In the present climate changes and global warming scenario, it is the responsibility of the ASI to take care of this great monument as well as others.



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