In India many monuments have been ignored to accord due importance in history. They haven’t got the position they deserve. One among such monuments is Bidar Fort in the State.
We only know that Bidar is a border and backward district. But many are unaware of the hidden beauty of the City. This city was ruled by many kingdoms ranging from Kalyani Chalukyas to Bahamani Sultans, leaving their distinct mark. Also Bidar finds a mention in Mahabharata too. It was the City where Vidhura, uncle of Pandavas lived.
Coming to Bidar Fort, this fort was built by Ahmad Shah Wali Bahman in 14th Century. The Fort was renovated in the 15th Century by Sultan Ahmad Shah-I as he shifted his Capital from Kalaburagi to Bidar. Bahamani was also the first Indo-Islamic Persianate kingdom in the Deccan. Its unique contribution to architecture can also be seen through the Gulbarga Fort, the Jama Masjid in Gulbarga and the Madrasa in Bidar apart from the Bidar Fort.
Karnataka is currently seeking the status of World Heritage Sites for some of the monuments including Bidar Fort from UNESCO.
It is primarily built of red laterite stone. This stone is said to have been sourced from around the fort itself. A unique triple channeled moat was dug around the South and West sides of the Fort and the unearthed stone was used in the construction of the Fort. The steep cliffs in the Northern and Eastern side provided natural protection for the Fort. These moats encircled the outer walls of the Fort and provided the Fort with a formidable line of defense.
Seven big arching gateways were built for access into the Fort. These were called the Mandu Darwaza, the Kalmadgi Darwaza, the Delhi Darwaza, the Kalyani Darwaza, the Carnatic Darwaza etc. depending on the direction which they faced. Apart from these gates, there was no access point into the Fort.
Gunpowder technology had not reached the Deccan states till 14-15th centuries. The architects made use of stone and mortar to construct the Fort’s walls.
The Fort is famous for the 37 bastions which were built along the wall in an octagonal shape. These were armed with cannons constructed out of welded metal and put together with the help of metal hoops. The Munda Burj or the Munda bastion was the most strategically placed and hence, it also hosted the heaviest guns to guard against enemies.
Inside of the Fort were beautiful mahals and masjids (palaces and mosques). Ahmed Shah’s rule also saw the addition of madrasas and gardens. The Rangin Mahal uses several coloured tiles and decorations which earned it its name, literally meaning “colourful palace”. This was built by Mahmud Shah in 1487 C.E specially for the queen. Its entrance showcases intricate Mother of Pearl inlay on jet black basalt stone. The two-storeyd palace also has elaborately carved wooden pillars and ceilings with inlay work as well. A special cooling mechanism was set in place here. The Mahal also consisted of water channels and fountains with a cistern in the centre. Additionally, the rooms were made underground to prevent the hot sun from heating up the palace.
The Gagan Mahal was built in the 14-15th century and has been called the “combination of strength and beauty”. This palace had two courts. The outer one was for the male staff including the guards of the palace and the inner court was used by the ladies of the palace. The “throne room” or the Takht Mahal, the Jami Masjid or the “Great Mosque” and the Sola Khamba Masjid that is the “Sixteen-Pillar” mosque, are some other notable structures of this Fort complex. The Sola Khamba Masjid is one of India’s largest mosques and Bidar’s oldest Islamic buildings. It was built in 1432 and restored by Aurangzeb in 1656 AD. It is considered to be a good example of the Deccan style of architecture which had synthesised indigenous and Persianate styles.
Gurudwar, Bahmani Tombs, Papnash Shiva Temple, Narasimha Jhira Cave Temple are the places that can be visited along when one plans to visit Bidar. The best time to visit Bidar is October to February.
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