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The Gol (Round) Gumbaz (Dome) is the mausoleum of Muhammad Adil Shah (r. 1627-1656) of the Adil Shahi dynasty of Bijapur. It appears to have been the desire of the ruler to build a mausoleum that was comparable to that of his father, Ibrahim Adil Shah II. Since his father’s mausoleum, known as the Ibrahim Rauza, was exceptional in composition and decoration, the only means of avoiding direct competition was through size. It is one of the biggest single chamber structures in the world and covers an area of 18,225 square feet (1,693 square meters), which is bigger than the better known Pantheon in Rome which is 14,996 square feet (1,393 square meters). The mausoleum is part of a complex that includes a mosque, a dharmshala (inn for travelers) and other buildings related to the sovereign’s mausoleum. The building was never properly completed as intended since construction began towards the end of Muhammad Adil Shah’s reign. As a result, the tomb is a plain cube with towers on each corner.
Built of dark grey basalt and decorated plaster, the walls are nine feet (2.7 meters) thick and 100 feet (30.5 meters) in height. The interior measures 135 feet (41 meters) on each side. Each exterior face of the cube displays three great blind arches. The central arch is wider than the others and is dressed with wooden panels with small rectangular entrance and three rows of arched windows punched through. Above the south door or main entrance, hanging from a chain from the cornice, is a ‘bijli patthar’ (meteorite) that is said to have fallen during Muhammad Adil’s reign. It’s believed the stone guards the tomb from lighting. The cornice and parapet of the cube is the most articulated feature of the façade. The cornice rests on highly carved stone corbels that project about ten feet (three meters) from the wall. The cornice supports the parapet which has a row of arched openings and leaf-shaped merlons.
In the center of the tomb chamber is a platform with the cenotaphs of Muhammad Adil, his youngest wife Arus Bibi, his favorite daughter and a grandson. The main cenotaph is marked by an elaborate wooden baldachin. The real tombs are located below in the basement and are accessed by a staircase under the western entrance. An octagonal chamber was attached to the central arch of the north façade at a much later date. According to some the octagonal chamber was meant to shelter the remains of Jahan Begum, wife of Muhammad Adil, but this would have been contrary to the convention of the wife’s grave situated next to the husband’s. Most likely, it could have been for the spiritual mentor of Muhammad Adil.