Gulbarga – The Original Capital of The Bahmanis

Gulbarga was nowhere in my Karnataka plan. It was maybe because I didn’t know anything about the city, except the fort. Still I managed to accommodate it in my 10 day trip to Karnataka in mid-December 2017:

Bidar – Gulbarga – BijapurBadami – Pattadakal – Aihole – Hampi – Anegundi

BRIEF HISTORY OF GULBARGA

Gulbarga doesn’t actually boast of any special monument or a historical fact but it does have a lot more beyond just the fort. Officially known as Kalaburagi, Gulbarga was the capital of Bahmani Empire from 1347 to 1424 AD. In 1422 AD, Gisu Daraz of the Sayyid family (descendents of the Prophet) was buried here, which transformed the Deccan from a land of infidels, open for conquest by Muslim invaders, to an Islamic sultanate, under the Bahmani dynasty.

HOW I TRAVELLED TO GULBARGA

I, along with my 3 friends arrived in the city late evening, by a KSRTC bus from Bidar (bus ticket Rs. 113 per person). We stayed at Hotel Heritage Inn, which was at a walking distance from the Fort. We were supposed to leave for Bijapur next day evening. So we had to start our day early next morning so as to cover all above places. Please note that we commuted to all places by a single rickshaw for all four of us. Therefore, all rickshaw expenses are for four people.

  • Gulbarga google map
    Gulbarga - Places of Interest

PLACES OF INTEREST IN GULBARGA

GULBARGA FORT

Gulbarga Fort was built by Raja Gulchand of Warangal. It was strengthened by Ala-ud-din Bahmani afterwards. The fort occupies an area of 74.10 acres and a circumference of 3 kms with two rounds of fortifications. The outer fort wall is of lesser height than the inner wall. There is a 30 feet deep moat around the fort.

The fort carries Tene (or Kanguras) at regular intervals and has 15 bastions and 26 guns. The principal gateways on the Eastern and Western sides consists of pointed arches with openings flanked by bastions, approached by bridges across the moat. There is a continuous parapet of merlons, raised over the gateways, provided with narrow openings in them to fire the muskets.

  • Inside Jamia Masjid, Gulbarga Fort
    Inside Jamia Masjid, Gulbarga Fort

The major highlight of the fort is the Bara Gazi Toph (featured image of this post). Measuring 29 feet, it is the longest cannon in the world. It is made up of alloy (Panch Dhatu in Hindi).  The circumference is 7.6 feet, diameter 2 feet and the thickness is 7 inch. Apart from this, Jamia / Jumma Masjid and Ranmandal are the noteworthy structures present. In fact, the Ranmandal is a strong and well-maintained structure that has 3 cannons atop. The palace and the other structures inside the fort are in ruins.

After leaving Gulbarga Fort, a rickshaw driver agreed to take us to Haft Gumbad, Shor Gumbad and back to our hotel for Rs. 300. On an average, it takes 15 minutes to reach Haft Gumbaz from the fort and 30 minutes to reach Chor Gumbad from Haft Gumbaz.

HAFT GUMBAZ / SATH GUMBAZ

The Haft Gumbaz, meaning “seven domes”, is a mausoleum of the Bahmani royal family, located on the outskirts of Gulbarga. Five of the tombs are identifiable as those of Mujahid Shah Bahmani, Daud Shah Bahmani, Shams-al-din and Ghiyas-al-din Bahmani and Firuz Shah Bahmani.

  • Sath Gumbaz / Haft Gumbaz, Gulbarga
    Sath Gumbaz / Haft Gumbaz, Gulbarga

The earlier tombs show predominant Tughluqi influences. The latest and most elaborate tomb that of Firuz Shah shows traces typical of what became the Bahmani style of architecture. It became the first Islamic style of architecture in Deccan that deviated completely from Tughluqi precedents.

CHOR GUMBAD / SHOR GUMBAD

The most intriguing part of our trip to Gulbarga was this lone tomb called Chor Gumbad. The structure doesn’t contain any tomb. It could have been built as a victory monument. If you connect the locations of Chor Gumbad, Gulbarga Fort and Haft Gumbaj on a map, all three points would come in a straight line.  

  • Chor Gumbad, Gulbarga
    Chor Gumbad, Gulbarga

The tomb is easily visible from the Gulbarga fort. It has an entrance to the East, facing the fort. The structure has one of the finest stucco works on its ceilings. There are steps that lead to the upper floors from where you could get a better view of the beautiful ceiling.

You may even go to the terrace which has four minarets on corners. Although a protected site under Karnataka State Archaeology, this beautiful structure is completely neglected and in ruins.

  • Sharana Basaveshwara Temple, Gulbarga
    Sharana Basaveshwara Temple, Gulbarga

Since we were running out of time, we had to skip Hazrat Khwaja Banda Nawaz Dargah and spent time at Sharana Basaveshwara Temple for hardly 5 minutes.

BEST TIME TO VISIT GULBARGA

October to January

HOW TO REACH GULBARGA

Air: The nearest airport to Gulbarga is Rajiv Gandhi International Airport, Hyderabad (236 kms away).

Train: Gulbarga has a local railway station which has good connectivity with important railway stations like Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Aurangabad, Nanded, etc.

Road: Buses by KSRTC as well as Private operators ply between Gulbarga and important cities nearby.

ACCOMMODATION IN GULBARGA

RESTAURANTS IN GULBARGA

  • Amanthrana
  • Al Makki Arabean Food
  • Zam Zam Family Restaurant
  • Kamakshi Restaurant
  • Radha’s Kitchen
  • Atharva Restaurant

THINGS TO REMEMBER

  • Start your day early and you will be able to cover all places in a single day.
  • The officials at Haft Gumbaz don’t allow video shooting in the premises. You may have to convince them that you don’t belong to media/ entertainment industry.
  • Remember that Chor Gumbad and Haft Gumbaz are on the opposite sides of fort. Plan your itinerary accordingly to save time.

Here’s a video I have made on the city of Gulbarga:

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Till then…Happy Travelizing!!!