Thursday, 5 January 2012

Gol Gumbaz, Karnataka, India

Gol Gumbaz, situated in Bijapur district of Karnataka, is the largest dome in India. Gol Gumbaz has a diameter of 124 feet and is the second largest dome in the world, next only to St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. The dome was built by Muhammad Adil Shah in the year 1656 by the architect Yaqut of Dabul. It has a floor area of 1700 m2 and a height of 51 m. The walls of the structure are 3 m. thick. The dome contains tombs of Muhammad Adil Shah, his two wives, his mistress, his daughter and grandson. Gol Gumbaz is an architectural wonder as it stands unsupported by pillars. The most remarkable feature of Gol Gumbaz is its acoustical system. Even the faintest whisper around the dome echoes several times.

The structure is composed of a cube, 47.5 metres (156 ft) on each side, capped by a dome 44 m (144 ft) in external diameter. "Eight intersecting arches created by two rotated squares that create interlocking pendentives" support the dome. At each of the four corners of the cube, is a dome-capped octagonal tower seven stories high with a staircase inside.[1] The upper floor of each opens on to a round gallery which surrounds the dome. Inside the mausoleum hall, is a square podium with steps on each side. In the middle of the podium, a cenotaph slab on the ground marks the actual grave below, "the only instance of this practice" in the architecture of the Adil Shahi Dynasty. In the middle of the west side, "a large half-octagonal bay" protrudes out. With an area of 1,700 m2 (18,000 sq ft), the mausoleum has one of the biggest single chamber spaces in the world.

Running around the inside of the dome is the "Whispering Gallery" where even the softest sound can be heard on the other side of the mausoleum due to the acoustics of the space. It is said that the Sultan, Ibraheem Adil Shah and his Queen used to converse in the same manner. During his[who?] time, the musicians used to sing, seated in the whispering gallery so that the sound produced could reach every corner of the hall. At a height of 33.22 m from the floor of the hall, projects a 3.25 m wide gallery, all round the inner periphery of the dome. This gallery is called the ‘Whispering Gallery’, because even the finest whisper or sound made in it is heard from side to side and even a single loud clap is distinctly echoed over ten times.


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