The magnificent monuments of Gulbarga, Bidar and Bijapur in northern Karnataka are manifestations of a vibrant culture that flourished under the rule of the Bahmani and Adil Shahi sultans during the 14th to 17th centuries. The wealth of these rulers derived from the lucrative trade routes that traversed the Deccan plateau, while the splendour of their courts owed much to an open immigration policy by which gifted individuals from other parts of India, as well as from the Middle East and Central Asia, were encouraged to settle.
Though the Bahmanis were supplanted partly by the Adil Shahis at the turn of the 16th century, and the latter were annihilated by the Mughal invasion of the Deccan in the 1680s, their capital cities preserve many splendid buildings. These include the imposing fortresses of Gulbarga and Bidar, the grand audience halls and ornate residential apartments in Bidar and Bijapur, the mosques and Sufi shrines in Gulbarga, and the beautifully decorated royal tombs on the outskirts of Bidar and Bijapur. For more adventurous travellers there are the abandoned ruins of Firuzabad and the decaying pleasure resort at Kumatgi.
All these monuments and sites are described and profusely illustrated in this guidebook, the first ever to be published for this region.
HELEN PHILON was founder of the Islamic Department at the Benaki Museum, Athens, Greece where she organised a number of exhibitions and publications. She completed her PhD on the Religious and Royal Architecture of the Bahmanis of the Deccan at the School of Oriental and African Studies London. She has recently edited and contributed to Silent Splendour: Palaces of the Deccan (Marg, Mumbai) and authored Gulbarga, Bidar, Bijapur (Pictor, Mumbai).