Popularly known as the city of domes, Kalaburagi was the first capital of Bahmani Empire, which was founded by Alauddin Hasan Bahman Shah in 1347. The city has many monuments that attract both tourists and history enthusiasts. Gulbarga Fort, which is located in the heart of the city, is one such structure. Jama Masjid located inside this fort is said to be the second biggest Jama Masjid in Asia. It has 107 domes on the roof, some in pyramid style, and has 250 arches inside the building. The area is divided into small square domed bays with a great dome rising over the nine bays in front of the mihrab. Over 5,000 people can perform prayer at a time in its inner area. Historians say that the architect of the masjid, constructed in 1367 during the reign of Muhammad Shah Bahmani I, was Rafi of Qazvin.
On the western side, there is a cannon, Bara Gazi Toph, made of alloy. It is 29 feet long and approximately 60 tonnes in weight. This is claimed to be the world's longest cannon by researchers. Apart from this, the fort has a Ran Mandal where cannons of different sizes are on display. As many as 36 small and big cannons can be seen in and around the fort wall.
The fort has two main gateways, one from southeast and the other from northwest, from Shahabazar. The southeast gate is generally used as one can access it easily through the city main road. The entrance from Shahabazar is located in the old city. This gate has huge doors that are in good condition. This was the main entrance during the Bahmani rule. While coming through this gate, we can see old houses that were built for soldiers, and horse and elephant stables. When Adil Shahi rulers conquered the region in the 17th century, the earthen walls were cemented with stone creating two lines of ramparts.
Alauddin Hasan's tomb, situated in the northwestern part of the city, is a simple structure with a dome. Shor Gumbaz, which is the biggest dome in the city, was constructed in 1420. It has a stuccowork (plasterwork that is used as 3D ornamentation, as a smooth paintable surface, or as a wet ground for fresco painting) inside and paintings with natural pigments on the ceiling in Persian style. Furthermore, an echo that is produced inside Shor Gumbaz could be heard up to a few kilometres. Hence, it was used as an alarm to alert soldiers about the entry of strangers or enemies into the city.
While moving towards the southeastern part of the city, one can see Haft Gumbaz, a complex of royal tombs constructed for Bahmani rulers and their military commanders. Firuz Shah Bahmani's tomb, located in this complex, is one of the finest examples of Indo-Islamic architecture. The tomb has a fine stuccowork covering outer and inner parts of the building. Verses from the Quran are written using calligraphy, and floral patterns are embossed on the surface on every arch and corner of the building. There are a total of four entrances and windows that are designed in Turkish style. The external and internal elevations have two levels, formed by a row of double recessed arches. Apart from Firuz Shah's tomb, tombs of Mujahid Shah Bahmani, Daud Shah, Ghiyath al-din Shah and Shams al-din Shah are also located in this complex.
Next to this building are the tombs of Sayyid Shah Muhammed Hussaini (popularly known as Khwaja Bandanawaz Gesudaraz) and Sayyid Shah Qhabulullah Hussaini. These unique structures are built in Indo-Islamic architectural style. The walls and ceilings of these tombs are painted with natural pigments. Flower, plant and geometrical patterns can be seen inside these structures. A major part of this complex was constructed by Firuz Shah Bahmani and Ahmed Shah Bahmani. A beautiful entrance known as Bijapuri arch, which was built later by Adil Shahi kings, is a major attraction.
Glimpses of an era
Khali Gumbaz (vacant tomb), built using black stones, attracts visitors with its beautiful geometric carvings and floral patterns. This monument was built for Chand Sultana of Adil Shahi empire, where she was to be buried. But, she died in a war near Vijayapura and hence, was not buried here.
Kamal-e-Mujarrad dargah is a monument dedicated to Sufi saint Kamal-e-Mujarrad and is believed to have been constructed before the arrival of Khwaja Bandanawaz Gesudaraz. It has the saint's tomb and a masjid. Kanchini Mahal, where cultural events like music and dance were held during the royal regime, is another rare monument. Langar-ki-Masjid is a beautiful masjid and its interiors are decorated with Quran verses in stucco technique. It has a wide open space and the compound is covered with arches. Siddi Ambar Gumbaz houses the tombs of the relatives of Bahmani kings. They are constructed in Turkish style with high domes. The entrance has a small dome and three arches. This is located outside of the southern side of Sufi Khwaja Bandanawaz complex.
Sufi saint Shaikh Sirajuddin Junaidi came to the city before the formation of the Bahmani empire. The entrance of the dargah dedicated to him consists of huge minars. This was built by Sultan Yousuf Ali Adil Shah. It was constructed using locally available black stone, which gives the dargah its natural look. The dargah is considered to be the tallest of all the monuments in the city.
Anyone who takes a trail inside the city, and on the outskirts, is bound to see several such heritage structures as the area has numerous monuments. While many of them are maintained by the Department of Archaeology, Museums and Heritage, some are protected by the Archaeological Survey of India.