One of the prominent sites that talk about the heritage and culture of Karnataka is Bidar. It all started with the Mauryas who ruled over Bidar in the 3rd century. Back then, bamboo plants were found in plenty.
It is why the town of Bidar was given its original name – Bidiru or Bidarooru. Over the years, this name morphed into Bidar.
Set in the heart of the Deccan, and thanks to its pleasant climate, Bidar was home to many rulers and dynasties. Prior to the establishment of the Bahmani Sultanate, the older fort at Bidar was held by the Tughlaq dynasty of Delhi. It was captured in 1322 by Ulugh Khan, who later became famous as Muhammad Bin Tughlaq. After the establishment of the Bahmani Sultanate, this fort was made impregnable.
In 1429, they moved their capital from Gulbarga to Bidar. The massive moats you see around the fort’s walls were constructed by the Bahamanis. The fort of Bidar, built on the edge of the plateau, has had various architects and engineers from across the world work on its design and construction.
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The one thing that is sure to strike you about the fort, is the sheer size of it. Spread over a massive 775 acres, this fort could take all day to explore. Though parts of the fort are dilapidated, much of it remains largely intact.
Built on a plateau, the fort’s original construction, had two steep ends towards the Northern and Eastern side and a triple moat. The impregnable fort flaunted 37 bastions spread over a circumference of 4 km. A number of tunnels for escape and numerous armouries are also seen within the fort.
A total of eight gates kept were built to keep this fort secure, including an entrance from the city. Their names of the most important ones being, Mandu Darwaza, Kalmadgi Darwaza, Delhi Darwaza, Carnatic Darwaza and Kalyani Darwaza.
A passage wide enough to accommodate 3000 army men is known to link the two main gateways. The fort, when completed, contained a mosque, palaces, gardens and halls. So awe-inspiring were the palaces here that numerous other palaces were built emulating them.
To explore the various monuments within the fort’s complex, do follow the trail.
Rangeen Mahal, literally a coloured palace, gets its name after the coloured tiles that make up for the interiors of this extravagant structure. A unique feature of this palace is that displays a blend of Hindu and Muslim style of architecture.
A mandap or columned hall is what you see first. Timber panels support intricately carved ceilings made. A doorway leading to the other room has inlaid work of mother of pearl set against black stone, enhancing their appearance only further.
Solah means 16 and it is precisely why the mosque has been named so. Sixteen pillars greet you at the entrance of the mosque. The mosque also goes by the name of Zenana Masjid, considering its proximity to the Zenana enclosure.
As per relics found here, Its construction dates back to 1423-1424 by Qubli Sultani. There are also some who claim that this was initially an audience hall. One of the largest mosques in India, it has beautiful symmetrical archways that run along the entire long corridor.
This throne palace of the Takht Mahal was the royal residence of Ahmad Shah. Tiled mosaic ornamentation along with carvings are what gave the Takht Mahal its grand appearance. Overlooking gardens below, the palace was made from basalt and timber.
The mahal has a large open hall at the back of which is believed to be the Sultan’s room. Quite a few coronations of the Bahamanis and Barid Shahis are known to have taken place in the Takht Mahal. The central roof of this Mahal is known to have a cooling system integrated.
Not much is known of this palace but for the fact that it could have been built for the King’s Turkish wife. The two-storeyed palace which is known to have been built during the time of Bahmanis shows definite signs of influence by the Barid Shahis. Recent excavations have shown that the prince had access to this Mahal through various courtyards that connected his palace or Hazaar Kothadi to the Tarkash Mahal.
Diwan-e-aam, as the name suggests was for the ordinary, in this case, public. This hall was a space for the public audience and was a place where the king would address commoners. The courtyard though dilapidated today displays the existence of additional floors, including a terrace. It is from here that the queens and other royal ladies would watch the proceedings and interactions separated from a screen.
Believed to be the prince’s palace, this Mahal over the years, has also been used as a prison and a kitchen. The main courtyard of this palace can be entered through an intricately worked on the gateway. Excavations have shown that the palace is connected to the other palaces and tunnels, which were used for escape. However, today, most of the place is shut down and not accessible.