Bidar : A Persian Marvel!

After the Basavakalyan trip on previous day, Next day, we had lots of places in line to explore. Early morning, we first left for Narasimha Jhira Temple. There is an underground cave, through which one has to wade through neck deep water. Unfortunately, due to less rainfall and water being dirty, it was closed for cleaning, for a week. We were disappointed but felt better because wading through dirty water would have caused altogether different trouble.

We came back to Hotel, freshened up, had breakfast at nearby Kamat Restaurant and started Bidar Tour.

First on the list was glorious Bidar Fort. Entrance to Bidar which actually attracted me to Bidar in itself is very MAJESTIC, once you go inside you realize the grandeur and vastness of the fort is beyond words.

There are many Palaces within the Fort to explore. Tarkash Mahal, Solah Khamba Masjid, Rangin Mahal and others. We were lucky to see the interiors of these Palaces, because they are generally closed for Public viewing. Mr. Mhatre in our group chatted with one of the officer who was luckily at spot. As a special gesture, we were allowed to enter. We were just mesmerized with the architecture, colours, wood carving, stucco work. One has to see it to believe the intricate carvings and effort taken by those craftsmen in that era.

The fort is maintained well and is one of the best forts in Karnataka. It has a Persian Architecture, spreading over 12 sq. miles, comprising of 37 Bastions and surrounded by triple moat which acts as defence. There are 6 gates other than Main entrance called as Gumbad Darwaza, Sherza Darwaza, Fateh Gate, Talghat Gate, Delhi Gate and Mandu Gate. There are guns on the Munda Burj which is the prominent bastion at the entrance.

The Fort Complex comprises of Old City, Palaces like Gagan Mahal, Rangin Mahal, Tarkash Mahal and Mosques like Jami Masjid and Solah Khamba Masjid.

(The inner section of the fort behind Solah Khamba Mosque has few wonderful monuments like Diwan-i-Am (also known as Jali Mahal) which was a Public Audience hall built by Bahamani Sultans in 14th-15th centuries. It is currently in ruins.The Jalis can be still in the upper windows of the structure.
Beside the Diwan-i-Am is a wonderful structure known as Diwan-i-Khass also called Takht Mahal or Throne Palace. It was built by Bahamani Sultan Ahmad Shah between 1422-1436. This is the place where coronation of several Bahamani and Barid Shahi sultans was taken place. The palace used to be adorned with beautifully colored tiles and stone carvings
part of which can be still seen on the arches. This structure is closed for public and the outer sections can be seen from outside.)

Rangin Mahal (Colored Palace) was aptly named because of presence of colored tiles of different hues originally on its walls. Some of them still exist on the façade. It is one of the best preserved sites in Bidar Fort. The mahal is famous for its beautiful wood carvings, fascinating tile mosaics and Mother of Pearl decorations.

The design of the Rangin Mahal represents the blend of the both Hindu and Muslim architectures. The palace has two floors consisting of a hall with rooms. The Mahal features five-bay hall that comprises of carved wood columns in rectangular form. The columns have elaborate capitals and intricately carved brackets. Inside the Mahal, there is an entrance to the inner rooms that has a frame of multi-colored tile work. Above the entrance arch, verses from Quran have been inscribed. The inner chambers have more tile work and mother-of-pearl inlay work, mainly around the entrances and on a panel along the base of the walls.

In the basement of the Rangin Mahal there is a series of rooms, which were apparently occupied by guards and the servants of the palace.

There are various Persian Verse inscriptions on the door archways. The room with mother of pearl decoration is the finest. It has a beautiful Persian Verse inscribed:

‘Every precious pearl which cherishes love in its shell

Cherishes the desire  to be given in alms at thy court.

Anyone who enters thy door is inspired with thy love

As if love pours  down from thy portico and balcony’

These lines actually describe the beauty of Bidar. I was glad that I could actually see it with my eyes.

Zanani Masjid or Solah Khambha Masjid derives its name from the 16 pillars that are lined in the front of the structure.There is a beautiful jail work round the dome. There are huge Columns and domes. The Bahamanis added the Parapet of interlocking battlements. Behind the southern wall, there is ruin of a Fountain and well.

As per the historians, Tarkash Mahal was originally built for the Turkish wife of a Bahmani Sultan. Baridi rulers later on built the upper part of the Palace, which comprises of the beautiful designs, characteristic of Baridi Architecture. There is a stairs to climb the upper part of the palace, which in turn leads to the roof of Solah Khamba Masjid. In the middle, there is a hall with arched openings and was beautifully decorated with tiles and stucco work.

Sun was at top of our head, we got back to the vehicle and went further for Mahmud Gawan Madrassa. On the way, in the middle of the road, we came across Chaubara, it was a huge clock tower with height of almost 71 feet, with semi Islamic architecture. Chaubara means facing in four directions. It was mostly functioned as an observation post because of the height.

Chaubara with Circular base is 180 feet in circumference and 16 feet in height, built of Black Trap Masonry laid in lime and circular bands. There are small arched enclosures built along its lower parts. There is a large clock on the top of the tower. There are four rectangular openings in its walls for ventilation and airflow. A winding staircase of eighty steps leads to the top of the tower.

A few minutes break for capturing the image of Chaubara, we proceeded towards Madrasa. The first glimpse of Madrasa was “wow”. The colored tiles were still there on one of the “still standing strong” Minaret.

(Mahmud Gawan Madarsa is one of the major historical structures and the architectural style strongly resembles the buildings of Samarkand.

The Madarsa had an imposing three-story building with 100 feet tall minarets in four corners. Only the northern end minaret is survived today which shows traces of blue glazed tile work with calligraphy in Thuluth script containing religious texts. The first and second floors having balconies which project from the main structure in a curvilinear form without any bracket support. The lower part of the tower was decorated with tiles arranged in a chevron pattern, the colors being green, yellow and white.

This three-storied building was once surmounted with domes. The walls of the structure are adorned with colorful tile work and are inscribed with verses from the holy Quran. Earlier, this college housed a library, mosque, laboratory, and lecture halls. There were thirty-six rooms for students and six suites for the teaching staff. It housed a library where 3000 Persian books had been kept.

The Madarsa ran effectively for over two centuries, but unfortunately it suffered as Bidar witnessed a series of political struggles after that. After Aurangzeb conquered the city of Bidar, the Madarsa was then used as a military barrack. The building suffered much damage due to explosion of gun powder in 1695, but still retains much of the original architectural features.)

Here too, we were shown around by the Caretaker. Next stop was Guru Nanak Jhira. We visited the Gurudwara & Amrit Kund. We saw people filling the bottles with the water from Amrit Kund, a lady sat next to the kund, filling up the bottles for the visitors. Even, we filled up some bottles.

(The shrine comprises Darbar Sahib, Diwan Hall and Langar Hall. In the sukhaasan room, Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book of Sikh is placed. 

According to the History, Guru Nanak Devji along with his disciple Mardana visited Bidar during his second Udasi around 1512 AD. While he was visiting this place, Guru Nanak sat on the outskirts of the village on the foot of a hill. When people came to know about Guru Sahib, they started gathering here. They told Guru Nanak about the scarcity of water and also that the water available in Bidar was salty and unfit for drinking. It is believed that after hearing the plight of the residents, Guru Nanak touched a stone and rolled it with his foot. To the surprise of the people, a spring of clean water started gushing out. That water source is still preserved here and it still serves the people of Bidar for the last 500 years. A large beautiful Gurudwara is constructed close to the spring, known as Gurudwara Nanak Jhira (Jhira meaning spring of water).

The water from the spring is collected in a small water tank called Amrit Kund, built opposite to Gurudwara. It is believed that a holy dip in the tank is enough to cleanse the body and soul of the devotees. There is a free community kitchen where free food is given to pilgrims. A Sikh museum has been built in the memory of Guru Tegh Bahadur, depicting the important events of Sikh history through pictures and paintings.)

We had lunch and proceeded further to Chaukhandi. It was further 5 kms away from the City Center. It is the tomb of Hazrat Khalil Ullah who was a Spiritual Advisor/Philosopher. This tomb is known for its architectural beauty. The arched doorways feature the calligraphy & beautiful stone work with carved granite pillars.

(The tomb is a two storey octagon with a freestanding square domed tomb chamber within, entered through a large gateway with pointed arches.

The outer octagonal curtain wall has arched recesses flanked by panels with diagonal squares; all outlined in black carved stone bands and covered in colored tile work. Inscriptions of Koranic verses adorn the doorway. The walls are decorated with stucco work both inside and outside. The calligraphy on the basalt lintel of the entrance is of exceptional quality. The Chaukhandi has three graves in the main vault and several others in the corridor.)

The domes of the Bahmani tombs were visible from here. We moved ahead to visit the Bahmani Tombs. There were 12 of them, amongst these, the tomb of Ahmad Shah Wali is very popular.

(Ahmad Shah Wali the 9th Bahmani Sultan died in 1436 and his son Alauddin built a majestic tomb for his father. The walls are about twelve feet thick supporting a huge dome on the top. There are three doors built into huge recessed arches. This tomb is known for its beautiful walls, which are inscribed with Quran verses written in gold color. The walls of the tomb are also decorated with beautiful painting. Highlight of this tomb is the swastika symbol, which has been used in this mausoleum for ornamentation. The paintings here depict lovely contrasts and skill of artist in blending colors. Urus (Jatra) is held here every year in which both Hindus and Muslims participate.)

Bahmani tombs are maintained well. It is mostly used as picnic spot by locals. We were showed around by a Guide who introduced himself as direct descendant of Bahmanis, he carried a file with him with all the details and photographs for record. We first went around seeing all the tombs. Humayun Shah Tomb (son of Allauddin) was struck by lightning because of which walls and most part of the dome had collapsed. One can see the cross section width of the dome walls.

(East of Ahmad Shah Tomb is the tomb attributed to his wife possibly named Shah Jehan Begum. The tomb is built at a lower level.

Another famous tomb is the tomb of Sultan Allauddin Shah which consists of tiled panels and carvings on the black stone margins of arches which are very impressive. Allauddin was a thoughtful and cultured prince who built his tomb during his lifetime. The arches in tomb are elegantly decorated with stucco work. He died of a wound in 1458. This tomb lies next to Ahmad Shah Tomb.

Humayun Shah tomb, the son of Alauddin, was struck by lightning and most of its dome and two walls collapsed. The shattered tomb is a strange sight. It seems like a cross section cut model of a tomb. South west to Humayun’s Tomb is the tomb of his wife Malika-i-Jahan. She played an important role during the reign of her minor sons Nizam Shah and Mohammed Shah. Nizam Shah Tomb was probably built by Malika-i-Jahan and is situated next to Humayun Tomb. The tomb inexplicably remained incomplete and is open with the dome missing. Mohammed Shah III tomb lies next to Nizam Shah tomb. His tomb again is incomplete.

Mohammed Shah IV built his own tomb along with several additions to the Bidar Fort. The tomb is majestic with arches on the walls. Mohammed Shah IV’s nominal successors were his sons Ahmad Vira Shah II, Alauddin Shah II and their sons, Wali-Ullah Shah and Kalim-Ullah Shah who were under the control of Barid Shahis. All four tombs are similar with conical domes and are situated to the south and west of the Mohammad Shah IV Tomb).

After spending 30 minutes here, we went ahead for the last destination of the day – Baridi Tombs.

Baridi Tombs is  now a public park, very crowded place. A short visit suffices.

We had to catch the return train at 7:50 PM from Bidar Station. We collected our packed dinner and boarded the train.

Reaching Mumbai early morning by 08:30 AM. Two days were jam packed with locations but it was totally worth it. Do visit Bidar & Basavakalyan!

P.S.

If anyone wants a 2 days full sightseeing places to visit, then this is it. Not a minute will be wasted. Start with night Journey, reach next day morning, cover Basavakalyan on this day, keep next day for Bidar and leave for your destination in the evening, reaching next day early Morning for office!

All in all, it is a complete package! 

There are some notes in Italics, which has been sourced from net, I have incorporated them, because of their detailed description about the monuments, which might be of interest to some.

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