Gol Gumbaz Mausoleum, Bijapur, India
This vast 17th century mausoleum is certainly visually imposing, after all it includes the second largest dome of its type in the World. But the acoustics are even more impressive than the structure itself. Getting to the whispering gallery underneath the dome involves climbing a hundred or so steep, crumbly steps. If you go early enough in the day, when it’s not too busy, then you can test the whispering gallery. Sound hugs the inside of the dome, so a whisper can be heard nearly 40m away on the other side of the gallery: it’s as though the speaker was talking from just over your shoulder.
However, if you get to this place after the crowds have arrived then the soundscape isn’t so serene. Indeed downstairs, it’s more like a municipal swimming pool during a kids’ float session. The subtle whispering effect is lost by the sounds of endless whooping and shouting as visitors test out the echo in the gallery. We’ve all heard echoes, and so this may not immediately strike you as being noteworthy, but the repeating nature of the echo in this building is very unusual, and well worth seeking out by sound tourists. Sound keeps bouncing around the dome, so that 3 or 4 times a second, the sound whizzes past your ear. At quiet times, this repeating echo can be heard 7-10 times before it becomes inaudible.
Gol Gumbaz 2
Gol Gumbaz 1
Gol Gumbaz 3
Logistics and location
Map. You need to arrive early if you don’t want to be deafened by a cacophony of mass acoustic-induced hysteria! Especially if you want to hear the whispering gallery rather than the amazing echoes. Website.