A bolt from the blue in Bijapur
A popular Adil Shahi legend has it that the kings of that dynasty had chased and caught a “bolt of lightning and later hung it in front of the world famous Gol Gumbaz in Bijapur.” And that ‘bolt of lightning’ can be spotted even today! Tied in a tripod-like ring and hung through a solid rust-resistant steel chain on the facade of the Gol Gumbaz, the ‘bolt of lightning’ that can be seen only from a close angle, has been a subject of curious debate for people in this part of Karnataka for centuries. Known as sidilu among local people, this object is in reality a piece of meteorite. There is an interesting story associated with the meteorite. A story that talks of the Adil Shahi Sultans’ faith in astrology and how the meteorite metamorphosed into ‘lightning’. Local legend has it that the meteorite landed in a village where the Gol Gumbaz was being constructed.
On hearing the news, Mohammed Ali Adil Shah, who built the Gol Gumbaz, personally went to the site to bring the piece of rock from space in a grand procession. A strong believer in astrology, King Mohammed Ali thought it was a good omen and would help him expand his kingdom further if it was preserved safely. Therefore, he brought the meteorite and hung it on the facade of the Gol Gumbaz. This meteorite was almost forgotten after the Adil Shahi dynasty collapsed in the late 17th century. Later, many stories were concocted around it and there was an aura of mystery surrounding the meteorite. But it was Henry Cousens, a British officer who served as the chief archaeology officer in Western India in 1896, who re-discovered and recorded it.
‘Rare piece of rock’
Talking about this artefact in his magnum opus ‘Ruins of Bijapur City,’ Cousens says, “This is a rare piece of rock and believed to bring good luck to those who possess it. Therefore, Mohammed Ali Adil Shah might have brought and dangled it before the Gol Gumbaz.” H Venkateshaiah, the Regional Director of the Archeological Survey of India (ASI), also endorses this theory. After the Adil Shahis, only Cousens had the opportunity to touch this object during the Gol Gumbaz renovation during his period. There were no proper records available about this meteorite after the Adil Shahi dynasty ended. Because it resembles lightning, a majority of people in the region still think that it causes havoc when it strikes. They continue to believe that it was the great Adil Shahi kings who chased and caught ‘lightning’ and later hung it in front of the Gol Gumbaz, without verifying the authenticity of the information.Ironically, in an era of huge advancements in science and technology, people in the region refuse to believe that it is a meteorite.
Article from DHNS