Bidar has loads of heritage and history associated with it. It is also a town of significance to many religions in the modern day – one of the most important pilgrimage centers for Sikhs is in Bidar. The mix of old and modern heritage, and its peaceful coexistence here is something a traveller will spot immediately and appreciate.
Here are some places we recommend you visit on your trip to Bidar this November, or any time later.
1. Narasimha Jhira Cave Temple
This peculiar temple is just a kilometer away from Bidar city. The temple is located under the Manichoola hill range. A perennial stream of water runs through the temple for hundreds of years in this temple. The visitors have to wade through waist deep water to reach the feet of the deity.
The temple of Narasimha Jhira is dedicated to Lord Narsimha and is connected to the mythology which mentions Lord Narasimha after killing Hiranyakashipu proceeded to kill demon Jalasura who was a staunch devotee of Lord Shiva. After being killed by Lord Narasimha, the demon Jalasura turned into water and started flowing down the feet of Lord Narasimha.
2. Bahmani Tombs
Striking a strange harmony with the rolling hills around them, the huge tombs of Bahmani reflect a desolate and moody beauty. The domes of these mausoleums are built without using any pillars and they house the remains of the Bahamani sultans. The tombs are arranged in a long line along the edge of the road. Ahmad Shah’s tomb is most impressive and is open for the visitors and devotees for praying.
500m before reaching Bahmani tombs, to the left of the road is a Choukhandi, a serene mausoleum of Sufi saints Hazarat Syed Namatullah and Syed Kaleel Ullah Hussaini. The shrine reflects an uncanny calm and serenity and its polygonal courtyard houses rows of medieval graves.
3. Bidar Fort
Bidar fort is arguably one of the biggest forts in India and is attributed to Alauddin-Bahman Shah who is the first sultan of Bahmani dynasty. The fort commemorates to the shifting of capital from Gulbarga to Bidar. The Bidar Fort is constructed on the edge of the plateau. The fort has a quadrangular layout plan which is 1.25 km in length and 0.8 km in breadth. The length of the fort wall is about 4500 yards. The walls, bastions, gates and barbicans of Bidar, though in ruins, are well preserved and considered as some of the most stylish in India. It is surrounded by a triple moat. Bidar fort remained under Bahmani dynasty until it was captured by Mughal emperor Aurangazeb in 1655. Rangin Mahal is one of the best preserved monuments inside the Bidar Fort complex that stand as a testimony for Bahmani art and architecture.
4. Papanash Shiva temple
Papanash Shiva temple is one of the most popular temples in South India. The temple is located beside a serene pond. The significance of the temple is it is believed that Lord Rama has installed the Shiva Linga. It is believed that Lord Ram while returning from Lanka, installed the Shiva Linga in Papanash. Owing to the significance, the temple is flocked by devotes throughout the year. The temple is located in picturesque background and a visit during Shivratri gives us a glimpse into the culture and history of Bidar.
5. Gurudwara Nanak Jhira Sahib
Located on the foothill of Bidar, Grudurwara Nanak Jhira Sahib was dedicated to the first sikh Guru Nanak Devji. The Gurudwara comprises of Darbar sahib, Diwan hall and Langar hall. The holy book of Sikh is placed in Sukhaasan room. There is a separate room called Likhari room where donations are accepted and receipts are issued. There is a holy water tank opposite to the stairs of Gurudwara and it is believed that a holy dip is enough to cleanse the body and soul of the devotee.
6. Solah Khamba Mosque
The mosque derives its name from the 16 pillars that are lined in the front of the structure. This 90 m long 24 m wide monument is popularly known as Zanana Masjid. Characterized by its columns arches and domes, this mosque is considered one of the largest in the country.
7. Basavakalyana Fort
Located in Basavakalyana town in Bidar district, Basavakalyana fort stands as a testimony and glory of the Chalukyan Empire. The historic importance of the fort dates back to 10 century when the capital of Chalukyan Empire was shifted from Manyaketa to Kalyana. The fort was built during the reign of Kalyana raja. The fort is strategically built as a defense structure in a camouflaged setting which is inconspicuous till the enemy is at the close quarters of the fort.
8. Mohamad Gawan Madrasa
The Madrasa was built by the Persian exile and minister of Bahamani court, Mohamad Gawan. The present madrasa is the remains of ancient theological college which is located in the old town of Bidar. It was once considered one of the greatest centres of Islamic learning of its time. The entire elevation is in three stories of arched opening surmounted by the wide parapet. The walls of the college are adorned with tile works in various colours and on them you can see the inscription of the verses from holy quran.
This college at its prime had a library, mosque, laboratory halls, lecture halls, quarters for teaching faculty and a student’s hostel.
9. Gagan Mahal
This palace was built by Bahmani kings and was later modified by Barid Shahi rulers. The palace has two courts. On the southern side of the wall there are series of rooms and halls build in row behind each other. The inner court also has rooms on either side of the covered passage for the accommodation of the guards.
As a residential complex, the Gagan Mahal was aptly designed and decorated for the king and the queen’s harem. The view from the terrace of the palace is one of the best in Bidar.
10. Anubhava Mantapa
The Anubhava Mantapa is a spiritual institution established by Basavanna in 12 century. This institution laid the foundation of social democracy. Basavanna believed that stratification of people based on birth had broken society into pieces and thought that meaningless rituals have become important. Anyone, whatever his caste by birth may be can become the member in this institution.
Untouchability is prohibited within the institution and every proponent has to take up some work or the other for livelihood. This socially progressive institute has called for equality of human beings in the early 12 century.
11. Karez Aquaduct System
The Karez, a Bahmani era irrigation system, is unique in several ways. Cut into Laterite stone, these water channels are unlike the pipes we use in present day – in several places, the channels are big enough for a horseman to ride through! Based on the Persian system of similar name, this aquaduct system is the largest of its kind in India. It had fallen into disuse and disrepair for centuries, until it was rediscovered a couple of years. An ongoing project is working on the mapping and restoration of the entire system now. Read more about the Karez here – link.
Along the Go Heritage Run – Bidar in 2014, we had organized a tour of the Karez led by Mr. Govindan Kutty, the lead researcher who rediscovered the system and is involved in the restoration as well. We will be helping coordinate a tour again this year, details will be published shortly. You will be glad to see the progress made in the last one year – water is flowing again in several parts of the Karez!