Boasting some of the Deccan’s finest Muslim monuments, Bijapur – now officially Vijayapura –  is often billed as “the Agra of the South”. The comparison is partly justified: for more than three hundred years, this was the capital of a succession of powerful rulers, whose domed mausoleums, mosques, colossal civic buildings and fortifications recall a lost golden age of unrivalled prosperity and artistic refinement. Yet there the similarities between the two cities end. A provincial market town of around 300,000 inhabitants, modern Vijayapura is a world away from the urban frenzy of Agra. With the exception of the mighty Gol Gumbaz, which attracts busloads of day-trippers, its historic sites see only a slow trickle of tourists, while the ramshackle town centre is surprisingly laidback, dotted with peaceful green spaces and colonnaded mosque courtyards. In the first week of February the town hosts an annual music festival, which attracts several renowned musicians from both the Carnatic (south Indian) and the Hindustani (north Indian) classical music traditions.


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