~The Gol Gumbaz~
This immense dome constructed in the 17th century is visible for miles in all directions. It was the first thing we saw on the horizon on our bus ride into town from Bidar. The grounds are peaceful and kept clean by workers, and provided a nice place to relax after the acoustic experience of the Gol Gumbaz. That’s right, acoustic. Domes like this were designed for more than aesthetics, they provide the most incredible echo, delay, and reverb to anything you hear inside them. The chamber at the top, called “the whispering gallery” accessible by a cramped and ancient 7 story stairwell in each corner of the building, boasts a peculiar acoustic phenomenon. Sitting at opposite ends of the base of the dome you and your buddy can speak to eachother, 300 ft away, in the quietest whisper. This is because the dome perfectly reflects all sound waves symmetrically across the interior so that nearly no sound is lost to someone sitting directly opposite you. Very, very cool. Simple stone producing something that we now manipulate through electronic signaling…. a perfect example of what I like to call “low-tech, high-tech”. Something that is low-tech (stone dome) but produces a high-tech effect (massive reverb, echo and delay).
A word of advice on visiting: I would definitely recommend checking it out as early as you can get there (before 9 am latest), otherwise you will be sharing the space with flocks of young indian children on school field trips who are more interested creating big decibel levels than the intricacies of the smaller ones…
But man, imagine the 17th century. No microphones, no speakers, not even electricity. All you’ve got is the Gol Gumbaz and a fleet of devout muslim singers chanting what must have been the most heavenly sounds to grace a person’s ear drums to date.