Apr 29, 2017

What to see in Bijapur district?

The name Bijapur evokes thoughts of a hot & dry place and Gol Gumbaz. The capital city of Adil Shahis, Bijapur had its name restored as Vijayapura - the city of victory. Vijayapura district consists of 5 talukas - Vijayapura, Indi, Sindagi, Basavana Bagewadi and Muddebihal. The district is generally flat with vast stretches of black soil fields. The district's northern and southern borders are marked by two major rivers - Bhima and Krishna. Bhima eventually merges into Krishna near Rayachoor. Though considered hot & dry Bijapur is known to receive good rainfall. Bijapur is also known for its biting cold winters; temperature as low as 4° C have been recorded. Then Bijapur is known for its jowar both in terms of quantity and quality. Bijapur farmers are experts in growing grapes, the green variety which are sold fresh and also made into raisins. Talking about food, its said that the concept of Khanawali (eateries which serve home-made jolada-rotti oota ~ jowar roti meals) has originated from Bijapur.


The district capital, Vijayapura city needs no introduction, yet tourists often are ignorant of the place's heritage monuments. The city it self has close to 50 spots of interest, if not more. The fortified capital of Adil Shahi kingdom is built in a large man-made bowl. The fort surrounding the city was formidable and defended by several cannons of which a handful have remained. During the Adil Shahi rule, the city had the most advance infrastructure.. water was supplied from two large tanks through pipe lines. It is said that the city never faced water shortage even during summer months. Today, you may not find the pipe lines but most of its monuments remain standing which includes at least one 500 years old Baobab tree.

Here are some of the spots to check out within the city-
  1. Saharasapani Parshwanath Basadi - About three kilometers from the city on Dargha-e-Hazrath road is this Jain Mandir. The main deity of this temple is Parshwanath. The idol was discovered about a century ago while excavating a mound. A meter tall black-stone idol depicts Parshwanath shaded by a serpent with 1008 hoods like an umbrella. The temple also has two other ancient Jain idols. The three idols are said to be of 10th, 14th & 15th centuries.
  2. Sangeet Mahal at Navaraspur - to the east of Bijapur, next to Torvi village lies the ruins of Sangeet Mahal, meaning Palace of Music. Ibrahim Adil Shah had launched a project of developing a new town called Navaraspur however the plans were abandoned when Malik Amber's invasion left the project in ruins.
  3. Laxmi-Narasimha Devasthana at Toravi village is an ancient shrine dedicated to Mahalaxmi.
  4. Saat Qabr - the graveyard of the 64 wives of Afzal Khan, a powerful army commander of Adil Shahis. To the north of this graveyard is the mosque of Afzal Khan.
  5. Afzal Khan Cenotaph - a tomb-mosque complex built by Afzal Khan for his own burial. It is said that this is the only two storey mosque in Bjapur. Afzal Khan was killed by Shivaji and his bodyguard at Pratapgad and lies buried at the base of the hill.
  6. Ibrahim Rauza - the grand tomb of Ibrahim Adil Shah II, his queen Taj Sultana and other family members. The tomb-mosque complex is situated just outside the fort, close to Malik-e-Maidan Tope.
  7. Baobab tree near Ibrahim Rauza - this is one of the trees planted by the Sufi Peers who had brought saplings from Africa. 
  8. Maili-e-Maidan Tope - one of the largest guns of Bijapur. The five-metal alloy cannon, situated on the western wall, doesn't heat up even during summer days.
  9. Uppli Buruj - also known as Hyder Buruj is a eighty feet high tower near Malik-e-Maidan Tope. The tower provides a good view of the neighborhood.
  10. Bara Kaman - the incomplete tomb of Ali Adil Shahi II. The plan was to build a tomb so tall that during sunset its shadow would reach Gol Gumbaz which is 1.9 kilometers away. 
  11. Siddarameshwar Devasthana - a shrine dedicated to the Lingayath Saint Sri Siddarameshwara of Solapur, Maharastra.
  12. Taj Baudi - one of the water bodies which still supplies fresh water. This is situated near Mecca Darwaza.
  13. Landa Kasab Tope - is the cannon on the southern wall, probably the largest surviving cannon of Bijapur.
  14. Fateh Darwaza - one of the five major entrances to the fort. The name means 'victory gate'. The name was given by Aurangzeb when he marched into the city on conquering it.
  15. Jod Gumbaz - the twin tombs of 1. Khan Muhammad and his son Khawas Khan and 2. Abdul Razaq Qadri, the religious teacher of Khawas Khan.
  16. Mehtar Mahal - is the ultra grand multi-storey entrance to a relatively simple mosque. The workmanship is intricate that it gives a feeling the structure is made of wood though its made of stone.
  17. Jumma Masjid - this is one of the biggest mosque of Bijapur. The mosque is known for its richly decorated Mehrab in gold paint. This mosque's construction started during Ali Adil Shah-I. Coloring of the Mehrab was carried out by Sultan Muhammad Adil Shah. Later when Aurangzeb conquered the city, he raised the ornamental green gateway on the eastern side.
  18. Gagan Mahal - means literally palace in sky. This building was supposedly a royal residence and court. While the Durbar was situated in the ground floor, the private apartments were situated on the upper floor. The building was constructed by Ali Adil Shah - I.
  19. Sat Manzil - this is a seven-storey apartment building close to Gagan Mahal.
  20. Jal Manzil - right opposite Sat Manzil is this little structure. As the name suggests, it is a water tank with a tower in the center.
  21. Mallika-e-Jahan Masjid - is situated to the west of Sat Manzil. It is also known as Janjiri Masjid.
  22. Asar Mahal - was built around 1640 by Sultan Muhammad Adil Shah. This was supposedly the hall of justice. Originally it was called as Dad Mahal.
  23. Adaulat Mahal - this is another hall of justice built by Sultan Muhammad Adil Shah.
  24. Arsh Mahal - is situated next to Adaulat Mahal. It was a pleasure house of the Adil Shah kings.
  25. Jahaz Mahal - this building resembles a ship hence the name. The two storey building is situated to the north of Asar Mahal; it was used for administration of Bijapur. 
  26. Chinch Diddi Masjid - this mosque is built on a bastion near Asar Mahal.
  27. Andu Masjid - this is a two storeyed building. The mosque is situated in the upper floor. It was built around 1608 CE by Eitibar Khan, a minister during Ibrahim Adil Shah - II and Muhammad Adil Shah. The mosque's dome is melon shaped and ribbed.
  28. Ali-ka-Rauza - is the tomb of Ali Adil Shah - I. It is situated near Andu Masjid.
  29. Mecca Masjid - this mosque will have atleast one brick made of soil fom Mecca.
  30. Chand Baudi - this well was created in 1579 by Ali Adil Shah - I in honor of his wide Chand Bibi. The well is situated near Shahapur gate in the north-western part of the city.
  31. Sikander-ka-Rauza - tomb of Sikander Adil Shahi, the last of Adil Shahs is situated next to the tomb of Peer Nasrullah, his spiritual teacher.
  32. Faroukh Mahal - was built by Yusuf Adil Shah for the use of royal house hold, Durbar, high level state officials, granary and armoury.
  33. Mustafa Khan Masjid - is situated close to the citadel on the eastern side.
  34. Badi Kaman - is a huge arch on the entrance to palace grounds. The arch is situated close to Mustafa Masjid.
  35. Ali Shahid Pir Masjid - this mosque is built by Ali Adil Shahi - I in honor of Hazrat Sayed Ali Shahid.
  36. Purana Jumma Masjid
  37. Tombs of Shaikh Hameed Qadri and Latifullah Qadri - they were two holy men who dies in 1602 and 1612. The tomb was built by Fatima Sultana, widow of Ali Adil Shah.
  38. Tomb of Shah Karim Muhammad Qadri - this is situated near the south-east corner of the courtyard of Jumma Masjid.
  39. Bukhari Masjid - is a small but beautiful looking building.
  40. Malik Sandal's Masjid and Rauza - situated close to Bukhari Masjid is the tomb of the man who designed and built Bijapur.
  41. Zamrud Masjid - with just 12 square feet area, this is is said to be the smallest mosque in Bijapur.
  42. Dhakhani Idgah - situated within the walls of Bijapur fort, the mosque is said to be built by Khwaja Najjar Ghaflet in 1538 during the rule of Ali Adil Shah - I.
  43. Chota Asar - is a small mosque situated to the east of Dhakhani Idgah. The mosque is known for its rich ornamentation in stucco which covers the walls,, ceiling and facade.
  44. Yaqut Daboli's Masjid and Rauza - tomb and mosque dedicated to Yaqut Daboli.
  45. Ibrahimpur Masjid - the mosque is situated a mile south of the fort. The mosque is said to be built by Ibrahim Adil Shah in 1526 CE.
  46. Begum Talab - was constructed by Muhammad Adil Shah to supplement the water supply of the city. It is said that Afzal Khan was out in charge of the construction of this tank.
  47. Gol Gumbaz - the largest building of Bijapur is the tomb of Muhammad Adil Shah. Apart from its colossal size, the building's self-supporting dome and the echoing gallery are engineering marvels. Gol Gumbaz's dome is said to the second largest self supporting dome next to the dome of Vatican Cathedral.
  48. Naqquar Khana / Government Museum - the drum house of Gol Gumabaz has been converted into a museum of historical artifacts.
  49. Aldi Buruj cannon on eastern wall- close to Gol Gumbaz, this cannon has somehow managed to remain on a bastion while most others have disappeared.
  50. Gigantic Shiva statue - The 85 foot tall statue is situated at Shivagiri on Ukkali road. A temple is built underneath the huge idol.
  51. Baobab tree of Yogapur Masjid - a tree planted by the Sufi Peers next to Yogapur Masjid and the tombs of Sayed Shah Imamuddin Quadri, Hazrath Sayed Shah Abdul Gafoor Quadri Shaheed Peeran and Sayeda Bibi Amatal Haleem.
  52. Ain-Ul-Mulk ka Rauza - tomb of Ain-Ul-Mulk, an officer in the court of Ibrahim Adil Shah.
  53. Jahan Begum's Tomb - This incomplete structure was planned on the same lines of Gol Gumbaz. If completed it would have been a copy of the great Gol Gummata in terms of size and looks.
The last four items in the above list are situated on the eastern side of Bijapur. To reach them you'll have to drive across the national highway towards Devara Hippargi. While the Shiva statue is on the right side, the other three spots are on the left hand side.

The remaining places are scattered around the district-
  1. Adil Shahi summer resort at Kummatgi - Kumatgi is situated 10 kms east of Bijapur on Sindhagi road. The summer resort was created by Mohammad Adil Shah between 1627 and 1656 CE. The resort consists of a lake, rows of tamarind trees, palaces & bath houses surrounded by gardens. It was a place for the royal family members to escape the searing heat of Bijapur plains. Even to this day, one can see the channels and towers which were used to fed the lake water to the bath house.
  2. Shri Mallayyana Devasthana, Devara Hipparagi - Mallayya is another name of Lord Shiva. Mallayya Devasthana is situated on the eastern outskirts of Hippargi town. The town is called Devara Hippargi because of its proximity to Mallayya temple. This ancient temple is known for its tall lamp tower which is more like a light-house. It is said that the light from the lamps on this tower was visible at Bijapur and it guided travelers at night.
  3. Tamarind trees of Hippargi -  At Mallayya Devasthana entrance are tamarind trees which are said to be 800 years old.
  4. Basavana Bagewadi – this is the birth place of Jagat Jyoti Basaveshwara. Bagewadi is about 45 kilometers from Bijpaur. The house where Basaveshwara was born has been converted into a memorial - Basava Smaraka. The town also has an ancient shrine named Basaveshwara Devalaya.
  5. Almatti Dam and Lal Bahadhur Shastri Sagar – The dam across river Krishna is the largest in Karnataka. Since it is located close to Almatti village, is is called as Almatti Dam. The dam's gardens are a great tourist attraction. The dam is about 56 kilometers from Bijapur.
  6. Shri Korwareshwar Devasthana, Korwar - this temple was established by Sri Shakaracharya. Korwar is about 60 kilometers from Bijpaur in Sindagi taluq.
  7. Gollaleshwar Devasthana, Golageri - Golageri is about 22 kilometers from Sindagi.
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Apr 22, 2017

Sangameshwara Devasthana, Kudala Sangama

January 30, 2016
The spot where two or more rivers or streams meet (confluence) is called Sangama and such spots are considered sacred in Hinduism. When two rivers meet it is called Sangama and the where 3 rivers meet is called Triveni Sangama. Within the borders of Karnataka state are several confluences; the well known are Hemavati-Kaveri, Kabini-Kaveri, Arkavathi-Kaveri, Tunga-Bhadra, Ghataprabha-Krishna, Malaprabha-Krishna and Bheema-Krishna. Of all these confluences, Malaprabha-Krishna Sangama known as Kudala Sangama is the most visited. On the wedge shaped land between the two rivers stands the temple dedicated to Lord Shiva known by the name Sangameshwara Devasthana. The shrine has a long history.. the temple we see today is said to be built early 13th Century CE. However, it is said that it was originally built during Chalukyan period.

The east-facing temple is built of sandstone in Jain architecture. It has two entrances, one each on the eastern and northern walls. The temple interior has 4 parts - Mukhamantapa, Navaranga, Antarala and Garbhagriha. The centre of Navaranga is a dance floor surrounded by 4 beautifully carved pillars. In this hall are idols of Basaveshwara, Neelambike, twin-Basava and Ganapati. The Garbhagriha is preceded by a Torana, an arch rich in design depicting floral designs and animal figures. And finally in the Garbhagriha is a Shivalinga known by the name Sangameshwara or Sangamanatha or Sangamadeva.

Here's the temple, heavily modified to suit the needs of the day. Recalling from what I remember from the short visit with maternal relatives of early 80s. The temple stood on black-soil courtyard with barely any structure made of cement. The temple all stone structure.. probably its original condition. The circular wall was being built around the Aikya Mantapa which stood in the river bed close to the sloping bank. The well was being built to prevent the Aikya Mantapa from being submerged in Basava Sagar, the reservoir created by Narayanpur Dam. I was disappointed for not having seen the original spot :( I climbed the scaffolding around the well, managed to reach the top and got a glance at the Aikya Mantapa. However, I could not muster the courage to descend into the well. The next visit was in 2009, finally I could see Basavanna's Aikya Mantapa. Coming back to the present..

This is the bathing ghat next to the temple. Visitors can take bath in Basava Sagar.

This is the east-facing porch of the temple ~ Mukha Mantapa with Sukhanasi. A pair of elephants flank the entrance.

One of the beautifully carved tuskers with royal decorations.

This is the front view of the Navaranga Mantapa. In the center are the pair of the Basavas facing the deity in the Garbhagriha. Check out the Torana (arch) across the vestibule connecting the Navaranga Mantapa and Garbhagriha.

The Garbhagriha door-frame has multiple rings and includes pair of Dwarapala.

OmNamah Kudala Sangamadeva.

If you take a close look at the columns and walls, you can see they are pockmarked. Surely those wouldn't be part of original design. I inquired with the priest on duty. Any guesses how? It seems the pits were drilled to fit in decorative lights for a political event! Shocking to know who approved that brilliant idea. Wondering if any of the politicians ever felt a historic monument has been vandalized.

The pair of meditating Nandi. Their posture seems so serene.

The rear view of the temple. The lower rear portion is mostly original however the upper half is recently constructed.

This small plain structure is said to be the tomb of Jatadeva Muni, the ascetic who ran a  school where Basaveshwara was a student.

Close to the main entrance of the temple is an inscription in Kannada. The slab is damaged but the letters are legible. This is one of the two inscriptions found at Kudala Sangama.

Besides this temple, there are several modern constructions at Kudala Sangama such as museums and conference halls. Pilgrims visiting the place can stay here and enjoy its peaceful ambiance.
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Apr 15, 2017

Gagan Mahal, Bijapur

July 3, 2016
The word Gagan means sky and Mahal is palace or mansion. Going by its name, its a palace high above the ground. The palace's elevation has an immense arch flanked by equally high but narrow arches. The ground floor of the palace was the Dubar hall. It has a platform from where the king used to address the court. On the upper level of the building were the galleries and residential quarters. The upper floor was said to be supported by wooden beams and pillars. However, today the building is a roofless structure, devoid of the decorations - what we see today is the skeleton remains of the palace.


Gagan Mahal is said to be built in 1561 CE by Adil Shah I. This palace is said to have witnessed important events of the kingdom. QuenChand Bibi is said to have controlled the state's affairs from here. And the traitor Kishawar Khan had dragged the noble queen from here and sent to Satara for imprisonment. Later in 1686, when Moghul emperor Aurangzeb conquered the city, the last Adil Shahi ruler Sikander Shah was brought in chains to pay allegiance to the conqueror. After this incident, the palace is said have become silent.. deserted.

View of the arches from the Durbar platform.

The Durdar hall walls. The lintel level of the ground floor is seen, its about 25 above the floor level. Seems like the upper floor was made of wooden planks, supported by wooden beams and columns. The stairway to the upper floor is concealed within these thick walls.

This is one of the smaller halls flanking the Durbar hall. Probably private meetings were held here.

Gagan Mahal is situated right besides the fort wall and moat. The moat not only provided security but also supplied water to the palace. I wonder how water was supplied to the upper floors of the palace.

We must've spent around 30 minutes at this 460 years old monument. It was worth the time. If you are touring Bijapur, I guess Gagan Mahal is one of the places where one can take a short break. In the vicinity, in fact on the same street are two other monuments - Anand Mahal and the ancient church of Bujapur.
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Apr 8, 2017

Toponymy across Karnataka

The history of names is an interesting subject. I'd started my own little research a year or two ago but did not make much progress as such. On and off there were incidents which gave bits and pieces of info. For example;  while climbing Watagal, a boulder heap hill, I asked my companions about the name's origin. Pushpa was the one say that originally the hill might have been called Wattida Kallu, meaning heap of stones. The phrase might have evolved to the Wattidagallu and finally to Watagal. There are few straight examples like- 1. the village Kappagallu was named so because of its proximity to a hill which has a face of black stones; 2. Jaladurga - Jala means water and Durga is fort; this fort is situated on an island in river Krishna hence the name. Having visited many places ending with kallu or gallu, I realized most places had histories dating back to Neolithic times. During a quiz, one of the questions was about Allahabad - that's where I learned that 'abad' was a Persian suffix cities. Also, on our trips, guides at historical spots would narrate interesting stories about place names.

So, the study of place names, their origins and meanings is Toponymy. Toponym is the common name for any geographical place. There are specific types of toponym such as 'hydronym' for a water body and 'oronym' for a hill or mountain.

The study also includes corruptions by rulers of different religious community or foreigners or even by local folks. There's a Devadurga in Raichur district which is corrupted to Deodurga. A village between Dharwad and Saundatti is commonly called as Haribidi - its original name is Harobelavadi. People find shortcuts even in pronouncing. We all know the long lasting effects of British, French and Portuguese on our place names. One beautiful name that's twisted badly is Srirangapattana. Search for it and you'll be seeing lot of results with Seringapatam. A British political agent has spelled Kalyani as Kullianee - spelled as pronounced.

Then there are names like Maski, Byadgi, Mudkavi, Lalguli, Gubbi, Kanakumbi, Muddebihal, Jamkhandi, Sondur, Kushtgi, Manvi, Roudakunda, Piklihala, , and many more for which I have no clue what the names mean or how they came into being.

You might not have heard of Talgatpura. Its a village on Bengaluru-Kanakapura. I'd asked the meaning of the name to person from this village. He wasn't sure and a common acquaintance's thought was- Talgat can be split into Talae + ketta.  "Talae ketta" means "out of one's mind." The conclusion was that, if were lot of mad people in this village at some point of time.. this was said in a jovial tone, no offense meant. The curiosity to know the history of the name remains..

Here's a list I could put together. Surely, I expect this list to grow.

ಪದname ends withmeaningplaces
ಕ್ಯಾಂಪ್campcampAmareshwara Camp, Burma Campfound mostly in Raichur and Gangawati districts; these were supposedly temporary settlemets which have been around for many years
ಪುರpuracityChikkaballapura, VijayapuraUsually a well planned city is named as Pura or Puram.
ಕೊಳ್ಳkollacleft, valleySiddana Kolla, Shabari KollaThese are ancient Hindu shrines concealed in rock clefts with a stream flowing by it. Kollas are found in northern part of Karnataka, particularly in Bagalkote and Belgaum districts.
ಸಂಗಮsangamaconfluenceKudala SangamaHinduism considers confluences as holy spots and usually temples are built at the confluence; as the temple gains popularity people settle nearby forming a village or small town
ಅಬಾದ್abadcultivated placeShahabad, Firozabadcities on plain land namedby Muslim rulers
ಕಾಡುkaduforestTalakaadu, Yercad
ದುರ್ಗ durgafortChitradurga, Savanadurga, HosadurgaDurga means fort. Fortified hills under Hindu kings usually had names ending with Durga.
ಕೋಟೆkotefortHosakoteKote means fort. Fortified towns' ruled by Hindu kings had names ending with Kote.
ಘಡ್gadfortVallabhgad, PanhalgadGad means fort in Marathi. Fortified hills under Maratha kings had names ending with gad.
ವತಿvatigirlBhadravati, Gangavati
ಹಟ್ಟಿhattihamletHullollihatti, ShirahattiHamlets which grew into villages or towns
ಪಾಳ್ಯpalyahamletGummanayakanapalya, Kanakanapalya
ಕೊಪ್ಪkoppahamletKoppa, Shuntikoppa, Shiralkoppa
ಗುಡ್ಡguddahillKappathgudda, BachinguddaAncient hill top settlements which have moved to the base of the hill still retain the original name.
ಗಿರಿgirihillMadhugiri, BrahmagiriThese are usually ancient Hindu shrines or forts on hills. gudda, giri, betta, parvatha are types of hills.
ಬೆಟ್ಟbettahillAnjanadri Betta, Thenginkal Betta, Chamundi BettaThese are usually ancient Hindu shrines or forts on hills.
ಕೊಂಡkondahillPenukonda, GolcondaForified hills or citadels.
ಗುಂದgundhillNavalgund, Naragund, Hunagundthe first and two places mentioned here are towns situated next to hills
ಕ್ರಾಸ್crossjunctionKibbanahalli Crossa junction on a highway, one of the roads leading to a town or village, the junction grew into a permanent settlement
ಕೆರೆkerelakeArasikere, Davanagere, TarikereProbably these were originally settlements close to a lake and caught on to the name of the waterbody. 'gere' is another form of 'kere'.
ದೋಆಬ್doabland between two converging riversRaichur Doabthe term was used in Muslim kingdoms
ವಾಡಾwadamansionDharawada, Koliwada, Yadwad
ಕಟ್ಟಿkatti / gatti / kattemeeting platformYeragatti, Kurubagatti, HunashikattiPossibly ancient trading posts which convereted into permanent settlements. Hunashikatti litreally means 'tamrind platform'. Probably it was a tamrind market post once.
ಗುಂಟguntanearYeragunta, Chintalakuntagunta is a suffix to denote near, example- near the house. similarly it being suffixed to a landmark which becomes a name.
ಗೂಡುgudunestNanjanagudu, Arkalagudu
ಗುಪ್ಪೆguppepileBidaraguppe, Vandaraguppe
ಗುಂಡಿgundipitAnegundi, Kemmanagundi, MavinagundiA settlement near a large natural or man-made pit. Kemmangundi is actually Kempu Mannina Gundi means red soil pit. The place is a former iron ore mine, presenty a tourist spot.
ಕುಂಡಿkundipit?Lakkundi, Yekkundiprobably a variation of gundi
ವಾಸಿvasiresidentBanavasi
ಹೊಳೆholaeriver or streamAihole, Yennehole, Naagaraholeplaces situated next to a river or a stream.
ಹಾಳ್halruinsYerebudihal, Budihal, Pashupatihal, Kanginhal
ಸಮುದ್ರsamudraseaShivanasamudra
ಅಂಗಡಿangadishopBeltangadi, Uppinangadiprobably the origin of the place can be traced to a shop that existed here
ಕೋಡಿkodisluice or outletChikkodiprobably a settlement near a large lake with an outlet
ಕಲ್ಲುkallu / gallustonePattadakallu, Kappagallu, Anekal, Watagal, IlkalA landmark stone or boulder would be the origin. Usually such places have a log history, often going back to Neolithic times. 'kallu' has variations such as kal, gal or gallu.
ಬಂಡೆbandestone or boulderGudibandeprobably a variation of kallu / gallu
ಕೇರಿkeristreetHukkeri, Madikeri
ಊರುoorutownBengaluru, Mysuru, Tumkuru, Belurooru is one of the oldest and frequently heard suffix for place names
ಪೇಟೆpattanatownChannapattana, Srirangapattanalooks like pattana has originaited in Mysuru kingdom
ಪಟ್ಟಣpetetownHosapete, Virajpete, Somwarpete
ನಗರnagartown or cityNavanagar, Hosanagar, Vijayanagara
ಗಾಂgaonvillageBelgaon, Shiggaon, Madgaonthis form is usually found in north-west Karnataka, Goa and Maharastra
ಹಳ್ಳಿhallivillageDevanahalli, Tirthahalli
ವಳ್ಳಿvallivillageMalavalliprobably a form of halli
ಪಲ್ಲಿpallivillageBagepalli, palli is the older form of halli used mostly in border districts of Karnataka and mainly in Andhra Pradesh
ಬಾವಿbaviwellMadanbavi, Amminabaviplaces history points to a well, usually a large deep well
ಗದ್ದೆgaddewet farm landMandagadde, Naradagaddeusually hamlets in a remote locations such as a jungle or an island
ಈಶ್ವರ್eshwarSankeshwar, Muradeshwar, Laxmeshwara
ಲೈಮ್limBicholim, Sanquelimeffect of Portugese
ಮಂಗಳmangalaNelamangala, Ayyamangala, Betamangala
ಸಾಂದ್ರsandraKyathasandra, Thimmasandra, Singasandra
ಗೋಡ್godMundgod, Murgod
ಬೆನ್ನೂರ್bennurRanibennur, Santhebennur, Motibennur
ಘಟ್ಟghattaSidlaghatta, Bannerghatta

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Apr 1, 2017

Saat Qabr, Bijapur ~ साठ कब्र

December 2010
Saat Qabr is one of the less known historical spots of Bijapur from Adil Shahi's time. Even if some tourists know about it, most of them fail to locate the spot because its located on the city outskirts and even many local people are unaware of it. Also, a stream flowing close to the graveyard was an obstacle of sorts during rainy season.. local people would discourage anyone from venturing into the snake infested waters. During my visit of Dec-2010, Saat Kabr was well outside the city. We spent a good half an hour to find the spot from less than a kilometer of it. It was almost dusk when we reached it.

Saat Qabr means sitxy graves. Yes, we could count 63 graves arranged a 7 x 9 rectangular array on a black stone platform. On the western edge of the platform is a single structure, probably a mosque. We explored the surroundings as well and found a well behind the mosque. The well was a grand one; its inside was lined with dressed blocks. Also, a tower was built next to it which helped raise water from the well. My guess is- water from this well was used to irrigate crops on this land before 'Saat Kabr' came into being. There wasn't much water and the bottom was in view; probably about 20 feet deep. Deep enough to drown an adult human. With so much in our sights, to know what happened in the past, we'll have to use little imagination. So, lets go back three and half centuries to know how the history of this graveyard.

Saat Qabr is the graveyard of Afzal Khan's wives. He is said to be of Afghan descent, stood 7' tall and a powerful commander during the reign of Ali Adil Shah II. Personally he was well off and maintained a harem of 60+ wives. Nobles were expected to have many wives those days. Afzal Khan was said to have won many campaigns for the kingdom and the Sultan had great faith in this power. Afzal Khan though powerful, believed in astrology and consulted a Sufi Peer before commencing any campaign.

During that time Mughals and Marathas were harassing Adil Shahis. Afzal Khan volunteered to the task of defeating the Marathas. As usual, when he met the Sufi Peer, he was told that he would die in the battle. Being a noble, he was worried about his name after his death. His wives cannot go around marrying or living with someone else. So he decides to kill them before leaving Bijapur. Probably he thinks that drowning would be the best method. He might have asked the wives to jump into the well and give up their lives. May be some wives submitted while others tried to escape with their lives. Probably the land where the well was situated belonged to him - I'm guessing this based on the fact that Afzal Khan's mosque is about 1.2 kms north of Saat Qabr. So the wives were brought here on some pretext and the news broken. Some chose to jump voluntarily and those who tried escaping were pushed to their deaths. This is the story of this graveyard.

Here're two not so good videos shot in poor light with my Motorola. Phone cameras back then weren't so advanced.




During the medieval times, widows' lives was said to be difficult, especially for widows of royal families. They were forced to marry or live with the conqueror. This was one of the ways to spoil the losers' names. Surely Afzal Khan would've done the same and that was probably one the reasons for this large harem. And that was one of the reasons to kill his wives before he died? There are many stories about queens and women ending their lives on hearing news of their husband's martyrdom but this is a rare story where a warrior killing wives before his final battle. Not sure if you'll ever find another as this.

Having done the deed, he sets out to meet the Maratha leader Shivaji in the jungle near Pratapgad. It was a supposed to be a peaceful meeting between the two leaders with just two bodyguards on either sides but Afzal had something else in mind. Knowing, Afzal's cunning mind, Shivaji had prepared well, he had armed himself with tiger claws and a dagger. Shivaji had positioned several soldiers in the jungle to ambush Afzal's men. The leaders entered the meeting venue, a tent. During the customary embrace, Afzal the giant tried to crush Shivaji in his arms but unsuccessful becuse of Shivaji's body armor. In self defence Shivaji uses the tiger claws on Afzal's stomach tearing out his intestines. The bodyguards swing into action, Shivaji's side has the upper-hand and eventually behead Afzal Khan. The Sufi Peer's prediction did come true. Shivaji had Afzal Khan's mortal remains buried with military honors at the foot of Pratapgad fort.
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