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    Gol Gumbaz, Bijapur

    Map Academy

    Articles are written collaboratively by the EIA editors. More information on our team, their individual bios, and our approach to writing can be found on our About pages. We also welcome feedback and all articles include a bibliography (see below).

    The mausoleum of Muhammad Adil Shah II of the Adil Shahi dynasty, the Gol Gumbaz or Gol Gumbad, is located in Bijapur (now Vijayapura), in India. It is considered a remarkable example of the architectural style of the Bijapur Sultanate. Its name — literally gol, meaning ‘round’, and gumbaz, meaning ‘dome’ in Dakhni — refers to its large hemispheric dome. With an internal diameter of 37.9 metres and an external diameter of 44 metres, it is the largest dome in India as well as one of the largest ever constructed. 

    Completed in 1659, at the height of Adil Shahi prosperity, the single-chamber mausoleum was designed to impress visitors with its size and opulence. It sits within a walled complex that contains other buildings, including a mosque, a rest house and the Naqqar Khana.

    The structure of the Gol Gumbaz is cubical, measuring nearly 50 metres on each side and surmounted by the dome. The structure’s four corners have a seven-storeyed octagonal minaret each, capped by smaller domes with petalled bases. Every storey has seven arched windows. Each minaret has an internal staircase, accessible from within the structure, which leads to the top and out onto the parapeted arcades that surround the dome. 

    The walls of the Gol Gumbaz are constructed of basalt, and the decorations on their surface are made using plaster. The northern wall of the structure has a semi-octagonal chamber. The exteriors of the eastern, western and southern walls have three recessed arches each, their spandrels decorated with medallions on brackets rendered in plaster. The central arch is larger amongst the three, and made of a stone screen punctuated with doors and windows. Over the arches, horizontal eaves over 3 metres long, supported by sculptured brackets, extend outward. A row of small arches topped by crenellated parapets rests above the eaves. The base of the dome, lined by decorative leaves or petals, rises from this point, with the hemispherical dome dominating the upper half of the structure.

    The large central dome, built of brick and lime, is supported internally by eight intersecting arches. The impressive engineering of the structure is evident in the support developed for the expansive dome, which rests on interlocking square *pendentives that counteract its weight. A similar support structure is seen in the Jami Masjid in Bijapur. Scholars believe this system was inspired by Central Asian architecture of the time. The dome has small openings through its drum, one of which opens to a circular whispering gallery that circles the interior dome on the sixth storey, known for its acoustic properties that magnify sound over ten to twelve times in its echo.

    The interior of the mausoleum has a raised platform bearing cenotaphs marking the position of Muhammad Adil Shah II’s grave and those of his wife, mistress, daughter and grandson, all of which are located in the basement below. The cenotaphs are surrounded by a wooden structure consisting of three slender archways on each side, capped by a sloping rectangular roof. This chamber is vaulted with tall pointed arches on its sides, which support the base of the dome. 

    A pathway links the gateway to the mausoleum to the arcaded Naqqar Khana, a building for drummers and musicians. In 1892, the Naqqar Khana was converted into a museum by the British government to house artefacts procured in the Deccan. In 1912, the museum was placed under the care of the Bijapur district collector. In 1962, it came under the jurisdiction of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). The museum collection includes bidriware, sculptures, carpets, coins, manuscripts and miniature paintings.

    The Gol Gumbaz is open to the general public, and is maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India.


    Brown, Percy. “Provincial Style: Bijapure (16th & 17th Centuries), Khandesh (15th and 16th Centuries).” In Indian Architecture (Islamic Period). Mumbai: DB Taraporevala Sons & Co. Private Ltd, 1956. Accessed June 21, 2022.

    Kumar, Shiva N. “Tempting Tales of a Tomb.” The Hindu, March 29, 2015. Accessed June 21, 2022. 7043586.ece

    Michell, George, and Mark Zebrowski. The New Cambridge History of India: Architecture and Art of the Deccan Sultanates. Cambridge University Press, 1999.

    Mondini, Sara. “The Jami Masjid Miḥrāb of Bijapur: Inscribing Turkic Identities in a Contested Space.” In Turkish History and Culture in India, edited by A. C. S. Peacock and Richard Piran McClary. Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2020. 

    Raghubans, Kishore. “Deccan Sultanate Water Works at Bijapur with Special Reference to Gol Gumbaz and Ibrahim Rouza.” Heritage: Journal of Multidisciplinary Studies in Archaeology 2 (2014). Accessed June 21, 2022.

    Rozindar, Firoz. “Gol Gumbaz Museum Preserves Slice of History.” The Hindu, May 18, 2015. Accessed June 21, 2022. museum-preserves-slice-of-history/article7217911.ece

    Safvi, Rana. “Shock and Awe in a Mausoleum.” The Hindu, August 19, 2018. Accessed June 21, 2022. article24726821.ece.

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