Bijapur’s Nauraspur – The Musical Soul of Deccan

Bhaka nyari nyari bhava ek kaha Turk kaha Barahaman

Whether a Turk (Muslim) or a Brahmin with different language – emotion is the same

Nouras soor juga joti ani saroguni yusat Sarasati mata Ibrahim parasada bhayi dooni

Oh mother Sarasvati! Since you have blessed Ibrahim, his work Navras will last for long

Kitab-E-Navras

In history books you learn in great detail about Emperor Akbar, India’s most iconic tolerant Muslim King. But the same history book would not tell you anything about Sultan Ibrahim Adil Shah II, the 16th century king of Adilshahi Sultanate that ruled from Bijapur in Deccan.

I did know about Ibrahim because of his roza often referred to as the Taj of South, but had no idea about his views and practices on tolerance until recently. He was a musician and through music he brought in cultural harmony between the Shias and Sunnis and Hindus and Muslims. Ibrahim played musical instruments, sung and composed praises of Hindu deities Sarasvati and Ganapati. He was also a devotee of Hazrat Bande Nawaz, the Sufi saint of Gulbaraga.

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For the promotion of music and dance and all other form of performing arts Ibrahim established yet another city called Nauraspur near the modern village of Torvi (about 6 km from the heart of Bijapur citadel).

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At Nauraspur he built a royal complex at the centre of city’s unfinished walls of nearly 13 km radius. The complex was dominated by a monumental palace which provided the principal stage for music and dance ceremonies. Its tall, broad and flat roofed masonry structures contained a two storied block of apartments preceded by a vast portico. Fronted by arches and columns the portico framed a raised central gallery in the apartments behind – a composition reflected in the waters of the pool situated before the hall. Curtains suspended from iron rings in the portico’s ceilings closed the gallery from view.

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The complex was the setting for the central celebration of the Nauras cult, of which Ibrahim was the celebrant. The cult involved the synthesis of two major Hindu and Muslim mystical tradition in Deccan, the Dattatrya Saint Narasimha Sarasvati and the Sufi Chisthi saint Gesu Deraj with that of Prophet Muhammad.

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The palace at the centre of a walled courtyard with nine equal sides. This composition provided a physical metaphor for the navras, the nine rasas or moods in Indian musical tradition.

Nauraspur’s core problem was however water. It was quite far from Ramlinga dam, the prolific waterworks carried out by Ali Adil Shah, Ibrahim’s predecessor to meet the water demand of his capital and Shahpur, the city of traders.

The following film link presented by Mr. Ameenddin Hullur talk about Ramlinga tank and the destruction of Nauraspur by Mallik Ambar, the Prime Minister of Ahmednagar Sultanate.

Now the question comes to mind how water was brought to Nauraspur. Watch the film to appreciate the beautiful myth presented by Mr. Ameenuddin Hullur on Ibrahim’s role in the prosperity of Bijapur.

In 2013, for the first time I had been drawn to Nauraspur with Aruni, my dear friend from Pune’s Deccan College. I knew nothing about Nauraspur at that time. Its crumbled structures did not allure me much but the real fun I found at that time being at the surrounding countryside with local farmers. My second trip to Nauraspur in last October was very enriching in the company of Klaus Rotzer, Ameenuddin Hullur and Hamza Mehmud. It was educative and fun but was disappointing seeing its grab by the hunger of Bijapur’s rapid urbanization.    

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2 Comments

  1. This is indeed a very, very significant post from point of view of research into history of music in India. I am glad that you always prove your worth with deep insights into such subjects as this. I am grateful that I came to know about this aspect and would add that the architects could have taken enough care of acoustics while design of the buildings in which musical concerts were organised in those days. The ruins tell this tale, clearly.

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