actually i don't even remember when exactly we reached the western ghats i guess it was sometime after mhow. we saw a sign board which said. "GHAT ROAD STARTS" looked weird but ya the terrain around us changed. we where going uphill at places hills where being cut from the centre to make way for the NH-211. that's the road we where following after dhule. it looked a bit sad to see such beautiful hills being turned to dust by a huge system made of man and machine working hours at stretch to make way for the 4-lane highway. i'm sure after a year when we drive past the same road we would have forgotten all about the hills and will be appreciating the beauty of human engineering. such hippocrates we our. the next big town on our way would be sholapur. the day was well spent as the drive was wonderful and i was happy to have a car with high ground clearance. roads where mostly under construction and really bad at places, good testing ground for the car. though the driver i.e. me did not get too see much of the landscape while dealing with such roads whatever he could see the place was beautiful. while crossing the villages one could see groups of kids as well as grown up having tied ropes to thick branches of tree made a makeshift arrangement for a swing not once or twice but for kilometres one could have seen such a thing. probably it was some kind of a celebration for the newly arrived monsoon who knows what and why but it looked so beautiful to see people swinging and feeling merry. by now one can see the shift in clothing and colour of the skin from where we started our journey. the skin colour was much deeper and richer now. clothes where deeper and livelier in colour. our aim was to be at sholapur by sunset which we managed well, we took a short break next to a large lake on one end of the city. sat next to it for a while and decided to proceed to bijapur which was around another 100kms. the drive was smooth by now. and we reached bijapur by 7:30 pm. the total count for the day was around 565kms. the city took us up a bit by surprise, wide roads, big markets, nice restaurants and what not. we had enough options to stay almost checked into hotel pearl a brand new hotel with clean rooms good restaurant. at the last moment we decided to venture out a bit more before checking in. got back in to our car and started looking out for the karnataka tourism guest house, have heard they are generally good and have a charm of there own, they may not have the best of the facilities but surely have a strong character of their own. we drove all the way to the cities main market, i was looking for a shop to buy some socks and chappals which we found, did some shopping and once again started looking out for the tourist guest house. with not much difficulty we found Hotel Mayur Adil Shahi (named after the adil shahi rulers of bijapur.), a bit of an old structure with some renovations/additions for sure. big rooms. big attached toilets. attached balconies. and lawn. what else was required we immediately wanted to check in as the place was cheap and good. we where asked to come after a while as there was some wiring problem in the room and the guy where to lazy to fix it. we thought in the meanwhile we will look for a place to eat, though we had no hopes of getting something interesting. on our way as we where asking people about eateries on gentleman very authoratively suggested a place called hotel ambika maratha that too to have biriyani out there. it took us a while to find out hotel ambika maratha opposite bukhari masjid. once we found the place we knew that we had made a mistake. it was a dingy basement to a much cheaper hotel. just nothing was proper over there including the gentry. we did have a choice to try some other place but decided to rather be adventurous and dine there. and thats one decision i am thankful to myself that i took against all odds. soon the biriyani was served and what a biriyani it was. we where speechless till the last grain of rice and last bit of mutton was left on our table. one of the most amazing biriyani i ever had. note down the address "hotel ambika maratha opposite bukhari masjid" a must place to visit if you are in bijapur and even if you are not in bijapur. drove back to Hotel Mayur Adil Shahi to be lucky enough to get a room, the balcony was small but proved to be a good place to sit and chat up a bit. i am already over excited thinking about tomorrow morning, first thing tomorrow we gonna visit gol gumbaz. visiting this place had been a dream for a long time. soon the night past by and we where standing outside the gate of gol gumbaz amidst morning walkers.
i guess residents from near by locality take ful advantage of the lovely lawns of around gol gumbaz. we past by the small administrative buidling which i think also houses a museum (though the small building was not that small just that it got dwarft by the colossal gol gumbaz).
i stood there for a while trying to believe in what i could see. coming from delhi a city full of historic monuments and countless tombs, never had i seen a tomb such in size. gol gumbaz in pictures does not look much grander than humayun's tomb, luckily they are never pictures next to each other. a structure as large as humayun's tomb can be easily be hidden behind gol gumbaz, such it the size of the structure. the building is squarish in shape with a massive dome on top whereas outside on all four sides are octagonal minarets. step inside to see the worlds second largest dome which does not have any pillars to support.
one may get a sprain in his neck while stretching it to admire the whole thing. in one corner is a small board saying "way to the echo gallery" do take it seriously and start your journey towards the echo gallery by entering that small door. the door leads you to some stairs and the stairs lead on to more stairs and the process repeats itself almost till you drop dead. in between some flights of stairs will be a small bench to sit and catch you breath. as i said do take this sign seriously as the stair end into a space (sort of a balcony in the periphery of the dome). the smallest of a sound can be heard at the other end. and each fraction of sound bounces back ten times as clear as the original one, in simpler words every sound echoes back ten times. step out of the balcony into the outer periphery of the dome under the open blue sky stand next to the top of the octagonal minarets which look like small monuments by itself.
take a walk on the terrace and we could spot the jama masjid rising like a jewel in the busy cityscape at a distance from here,
one should take out time to pay a visit to the mosque though we couldn't as we had plans of hitting hampi the very same day. traced back our way out, had our breakfast of poha and chai at the canteen within the gol gumbaz compound.
the sun was just warm enough to be enjoyed. soon we will be heading towards hampi.