21-22 November 2015
Not many people are avid supporter when it comes to my choice of traveling. I can not recount how many times I have heard the statements: “Are you serious?” “Where the fuck is that?” “Why would you want to go there?” But honestly, the need to getaway and find and experience something different truly keeps me alive. Bidar can be quoted as the best example to explain this syndrome of mine. Every month (lets keep it more normal than what it is) I experience the urge to just get out of the fuzziness of city life; I may not be successful every time, but it definitely works most often. I may have lived in Karnataka for 5 years, but there is so much of the state has been left unexplored.
Bidar. A unique name for a unique place. The name appears to have derived from ‘bidiru’ (pronounce as Bee-Dee-Roo) meaning bamboo, which later modified itself to ‘Bidaroor’ and then ‘Bidare’. Located in the north-eastern part of Karantaka, on the deccan plateau, the city of Bidar comes under the category of neglected tourist detination, with a prominent place in the Archaeological Map of India. According to the book “Bidar Heritage” published by the State Department of Archaeology, Museums and Heritage, out of the 61 monuments listed by the department, about 30 are tombs located in and around Bidar city; hence the nickname – The City of Whispering Monuments.
How did I come across this place? Well, I should express my thanks to GoHeritage Run for this unique experience. They are an organisation that are known to organise marathon runs around heritage sites. Well, I was not planning to run. AT ALL!!! But it was the name that just kept running in my head!
The history of the city can be traced back to the time of Mauryan empire in the 3rd centruy B.C., however the architectural history can be largely attributed to the rulers of the Bahmani dynasty. The majority of the monuments seems to reflect the rich Iranian and Persian cultural heritage of the rulers.
Mahmud Gawan Madrasa is a 3-storeyed residential university built by Khwaja Mahmud Gawan, comprising of a conventional hall, library, lecture halls, chambers for the professors and a mosque. Most of the building is in completely in shambles, but there is a caretaker available who is ready to open up the gates if you are willing to shell out some extra cash.
Bidar Fort has been described in literature as one of the most impressive and formidable forts of the country. While currently, most of the structures are in ruins, the fort complex area is quite insightful about how the building used to look once upon a time. The main citadel complex consists of the royal palace, residential mahals and mosque. Adjoining to the southern side, the city of Bidar was built for the masses.
I would definitely recommend visitors to take a peek at Rangeen Mahal, which is said to be decorated with colored tiles, wood carvings and other art works. The walls of Mahal are said to be adorned with mother-of-pearl of the finest quality laid in jet-black stone. Since my visit coincided with the heritage week, most of the building were under rennovations in preparation for the function, and hence pictures were not allowed.
Choubara (Watch Tower) is an old cylindrical tower located in the center of the city and is one of the most noticeable feature other than domes that keeps dotting the skyline.
Tour of Tombs can be started with Chaukhandi of Hazrat Khalil Ullah, a two-storeyed octagonal-shaped tomb built in honor of the spiritual advisor of Sultan Ahmed Shah, a mughal emperor.
Bahmani Tombs are 12 tombs located 4 kms outskirts of Bidar and consists of large mausoleums with lofty domes. Most of the monuments are unlabeled and literally left up for the visitors to explore and comprehend on their own. However, the guard posted outside informed that the tomb of Ahmad Shah Wali hoards the maximum number of pilgrims during one of their local festivals.
Bidar was definitely a unique revelation. My aim for visiting the place was of course the intricate Bidar art that captivated most of my attention during the whole trip.
- Accommodation is relatively a sparse option in Bidar. However, I was able to get good deal with Hotel Shiva International for a cheap and comfortable stay. There are guesthouses available near the Gurudwara as well.
- Narasimha Jhira Cave Temple. The temple has been carved into the plateau and devotees have to wade through water to approach the deity. Be prepared to stand in a queue with at least 200 people. I had to skip it because it was taking way too much time and the whole idea of wading through water didn’t suit my hydrophobic sensibilities.
- Papanash Shiva Temple.
- Gurudwara Nanak Jhira Sahib is a beautiful Sikh religious place that will fill you with calm and serenity.
- Karez aqueduct system. This is an underground canal system build in the 15th century to connect underground water streams, with the sole aim of providing drinking water to civilian settlements and the garrison inside the Bidar fort. This was necessary in a city where the soil was rocky and drilling wells was difficult. The place is located outside Bidar and it is better to have one of the experts accompanying you to navigate you through the aqueduct system.
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