Gulbarga – Heritage Destinations in Karnataka
You might have heard about the recent discovery of the sculpted portrait of the Great Asoka at the excavation site near the Buddhist stupa in Karnataka recently in 2009, haven’t you? The discovery has been accomplished at one of the most remarkable locations of Karnataka, which is Gulbarga. The Buddhist stupa is located at the Kanganahalli (Chittapur), and this discovery is the first inscribed relic of the great king Asoka. It had an image of Asoka with his wife, being attended their chauri bearers. Below it, there was an inscription called ‘Rayo Asoka’ meaning ‘King Asoka’. This is a very important discovery from the historical point of view. It not only manifests the lifestyle of King Asoka but also reveals a great deal about the painting art of the Buddhist of those times.
Situated on the Deccan plateau, Gulbarga lies in the northeast of the state of Karnataka (previously used to be known as Mysore) and forms a major heritage destinations in the southern India. Two rivers, Bhima and Krishna flow through the place. It is one of the biggest cities in the state of Karnataka, and is only a few hundred kilometers from Bangalore and Hyderabad. Being one of the most advanced places in Karnataka, Gulbarga comes with an enriched historical and cultural background. It was the seat of the great Bahamani dynasty in the 14th century AD, and was a part of the Nizam’s. It is also known as ‘Kalburgi’, which is a Kannada word for ‘stony land’.
Gulbarga has a rich history behind it that dates back to the 6th century. At first, it was under the control of the Rashtrakuta dynasty that was succeeded by the Chalukya dynasty. After ruling for about 200 years, the Chalukyas ceded the rule to the Kalachuri dynasty. Later, after the twelfth century, the reigns were handed over to the Yadavas (Devagiri), Hoysalas (Halebid) and Kakatiyas (Warangal). At last, it came under the control of the Nizam of Hyderabad. And it can be said that most of the development of the place was during this time. It was a center of knowledge and education of the contemporary times. You would find the Nrupatunga’s Kavirajamarga, Viganeeshwara’s Mitakshara, and Nagai University over here. The legacy of Hyder Ali, Banda Nawaz (Sufi saint), Purandasa Das (great Carnatic musician -poet-philosopher), Sri Sharanabasaveshwara and the Shivsharanas all originate from this place.
Yes, there are some great tourist attractions in Gulbarga as well, which make it one of the best heritage destinations in Karnataka.
In the outskirts of the city, Buddha Vihar is one of the biggest and one of its kinds. Built by the Siddhartha Vihar Trust, it is a big 70-acre of land (the main structure covers around 33000 ft of land) with pillared structures and blocks, and exquisite decorations reflecting the Ellora and Ajanta style of art. Inside you will two excellent idols of Lord Buddha, one being carved out of glossy black stone. These date back to the reign of the Great Asoka. This not only shows the excellence of the artisanship of that period, and a great symbol of those periods.
As a tourist, you will also love the golden smiling Buddha idol and the marvelously sculpted ‘panchaloha’ idol. You will marvel at the beauty of the stupendously carved teak and rosewood doors and windows.
The complex also consists of a museum with an auditorium, a dining hall and guesthouses.
Next comes, the Bahamani fort. It was originally built by Raja Gulchand, a feudatory of Kakatiyas (Warangal). The Allah-ud-din (Bahamani) rebuilt it. Inside the fort, you find a beautiful mosque built by Mohammed Bahamani and several other mosques and monuments as well. You will also find the tomb of Banda Nawaz as well. Those who love history will be amazed by the Durga library over there.
Gulbarga, being one of the best heritage destinations in Karnataka, cannot be missed while you are on your tour over there.