Bidar is the northern most district of Karnataka. Medieval Bidar was widely renowned for its splendor and as a seat of learning, cultural marvels and as a capital city. Bidar is situated almost in the centre of geographical 'Deccan' and the eastern border of the historical 'Deccan'. It was a meeting place of several shades of culture from the very beginning.
The history of Bidar has a lot of ups and downs and stories of treachery and bloodbath, but was also marked by good administration and development of art, architecture and literature.
The historical monuments and sites in and around the Bidar city belong to different periods of history, pre-Kakatiya, Tughluq, Bahamani, Barid Shahi, Adil Shahi, Mughal and Nizam. As far the architecture is concerned there is an intermixture of Hindu, Turkish and Persian artisanship. Some of the designs and decorative patterns seen in the monuments of Bidar are unique in India.
Bidar fort is considered as one of the most formidable forts of the country. The main citadel complex housed the royal palaces, Mahals and Mosque Both the citadel complex and city had separate forts for protection. The plan of the Bidar city fortification is pentagonal. There are five gateways for entry in to the city fort. It is the main citadel complex fort which is considered the strongest. Engineers and architects of various countries were employed on its design and construction.
The Gumbaz Darwaz, is an enormous, awe inspiring structure. The thickness of its wall are 22 feet, the height is 45 feet besides the dome. A wide passage links it to Sharza Darwaza. Between these two gateways, about three thousand army men could take up position for the defence of the fort. With a number of big bastions, large guns, arms storage, tunnels for escape in emergencies, Bidar Fort has got many interesting features.
Gagan Mahal (Heavenly palace)
This was originally built by the Bahamani kings, and additions were made by the Barid Shahi rulers. It has two courts. The outer courts were used by the male staff and guards. In the inner court also, there are rooms on either side of the covered passage for the accommodation of the guards. The main building of the palace was for the use of the Sultan and his harem.
Takht Mahal ( Throne Palace)
The Royal Palace was built by Ahmed Shah and designated as the royal residence. The palace was fully decorated with colored tiles and stone carvings, part of which can be seen even today. It had two side royal pavilions with lofty arches, and a spacious hall, at the back of which was the Sultan's room.
The building had stately dimensions and exquisite surface decorations. The coronations of several Bahamani and Barid Shahi Sultans were held here. From the royal pavilion which is situated behind throne palace one can view the valley and low land below.
This is said to have been built for a Turkish wife of the Sultan. From the remains of the decorative work found in the ornamentation of the walls, it can be said that the Mahal was built or extended by the Barid Shahi Sultans who had kept large harems. The rooms were decorated with stucco work.
Though comparatively smaller in size this palace situated near Gumbaz Darwaza is unique because of its decoration with coloured tiles and other art work. Wood carving done here is not only precious but also unique. The walls of Mahal are adorned with Mother-of-Pearl of the finest quality inlaid in jet-black stone.
Floral patterns and calligraphic texts are also depicted here. Stone carving, stucco art are other attractions of this monument.The designs of this monument represent a blend of both Muslim and Hindu architecture.
Shahi Malbakh ( Royal kitchen)
This adjoins the Rangeen Mahal towards the west. Originally it appears to have been the residence of a prince or a dignitary. At different periods it was used for different purposes. At one time it was used as a royal kitchen. During the Nizam's period it was used as a jail.
Shahi Hamam (Royal bath)
The Shahi Hamam is situated very near the royal kitchen. Close to the royal bath and in front of the mosque there was a Lal Bagh (Red Garden) so named on account of its flowers grown there. In the middle of the Lal Bagh one can see a beautiful cistern.
The Bahamani Sultans were fond of constructing huge sepulchres. Several majestic Mausoleums of their period are at Ashtur, 4kms east of Bidar. A visit to Bidar is incomplete without a visit to Ashtur.
In all there are 12 magnificent tombs in a row which together give a very impressive look. Beautiful arches, niches and lofty domes all make up these tombs. The tomb of Ahamad Shah-al-Wali is known for its walls on which verses are written in gold with a dark background. The interior is decorated with fine paintings.
The tomb of Sultan Alauddin–Shah II consists of tile panels and carvings on the black stone margins of arches which are very impressive. Other tombs here are built up of trap masonry. The arches in tombs are elegantly decorated with stucco work.
Chabara means a building facing in four directions. This is an old cylindrical tower. It is a cylindrical tower of 22mtrs. Height is situated in the centre of bidar town. It was used as a watchtower, commanding a fine view of the entire plateau from the top. A winding staircase of eighty steps leads to the top of tower.
Madarasa of Mahmud Gawan
Mahmud Gawan was considered a great lover learning. He founded the the Madarasa which was built and maintained on the lines of the Madarasa of Khurasan. This imposing and spacious institution is considered an architectural gem, and an important land mark of Bidar. The structure is rectangular in shape and is built in an area of 4624 sq.mts.
The building is attractively decorated with blue tiles, the fragments of which can be seen even today.
The Madarasa was a three storied building housing a mosque, a library, lecture halls, professors quarters and students' cubicles facing an open courtyard. Arabic, Persian, theology, philosophy, astronomy, mathematics etc, were taught here besides free boarding and lodging facilities.
The tomb of Mahmud Gawan situated on a wide platform to the south of Bidar town is a simple structure with stone tablet speaking about a 'martyr without fault' and his 'unjust execution'.
Jharani Narasimha Cave Temple
Legend has it that Lord Narasimha, an avatar of Lord Vishnu came to live in this underground cave. There is a roughly carved image of Narashimha on a stone wall at the end of the cave. To see the deity, visitors have to wade through a canal of 91 meters. The depth off the water in the channel is generally 1.37 meters. A good number of devotees visit this temple.
Papanash Kshetra is another sacred place in Bidar city. The Shivaling here is worshiped with much devotion. The place is set in a picturesque valley.
Nanak Jhira Sahib
Pilgrims from far and wide abound at this famous sikh shrine. The Nanak Jhira Sahib with a water spring nestles amidst serene and enchanting surroundings. A sarovar (lake) and an Amrut-Kunda have been built. A number of suites and rooms have been provided for lodging the pilgrims. There is a Guru ka langar where free food is served irrespective of caste or creed.
Situated 80 kms. south west of Bidar, Basavakalyan played an important role in the history of the region as the capital of Chalukyas of Kalyan and as karmaboomi of Basavanna and hundreds of other Sharanas of the 12th Century. Basavakalyan is fast developing as a tourist destination. The beautiful fort, museum and a number of places connected with Sharanas are great attractions of Basavakalyan.
Influenced by Hindu, Muslim, Persian, Turkish and Iranian forms of art Bidari Ware forms an integral part of Bidar's Heritage. 'Bidari Ware' is a special style of work called 'Damascening' in silver. The craftsmen follow both traditional and modern designs tocreate this unique art form. Silver, gold, brass, copper are used for inlaying. Lead, tin, copper, zink are used as base materials for preparing the articles.
The Bidari articles created here were traditionally used by nobility. Water jugs, wash basins, hookahs, candle sticks, cosmetic boxes, dishes, flower vases are just some of these. Among the traditional designs traced on Bidari articles the 'Poppy flower', the Persian rose' and the 'Phool Jari' are the most popular. In order to suit modern tastes, new designs are also being incorporated by the artists.
State Monuments at Bidar
- Dargah of H. Kahaalimullah (Choukhandi)
- Farah Bagh Mosque and old Hindu Underground temple in its vicinity.
- Kali Masjid
- Sadat spring, Savai and Dargah of H.Sayyid Us- Sadat
- Maqhbara Mahmud Gavan
- Pre – Historic site.
- Amir fakrul-Mulk Gailan's Tomb