Bidar (bIdar) (ಬೀದರ್) is an important town located in the northern tip of Karnataka. This city is well known for historical and architectural reasons. It is one of the few places in Karnataka where the Sikh religion has a significant presence. It is situated at a distance of about 670 kilometers from Bangalore . It was a part of the Kingdom ruled by the Nizam of Hyderabad before it got merged in to Karnataka. Some implements belonging to the new Stone Age were excavated here. This is indicative of the fact, that Bidar might have been one of the earlier human habitats of Karnataka. This place was once known as ‘vidurapuri’ according to mythology and it is also associated with Nala and Damayanti. It is said that the kingdom of Vidarbha mentioned in Mahabharata is the same as Bidar. It was called Muhammadabad during the reign of Bahamani sultans. Bidar was ruled earlier by the Chalukyas of Kalyani, Yadavas and Kakateeyas of Waarangal. Muhammad Bin Tughalaq invaded the fort of Bidar in 1325 A.D. and acquired it for his Kingdom. After this, Bidar was under the sway of Muslim kings for a long time and it has assimilated many an artistic dimension from their religion and culture. Architectural and cultural relics belonging to the Chalukya period and the basadis indicating a Jaina presence do not amount to much as on now. Ahmed the Bahmani king, shifted his Capital from Gulbarga to Bidar in 1424 and that is an important landmark in the history of this city. A strong fort was built in Bidar after it became the capital and many grand buildings were constructed during that period. Bidar continued to be the capital until the Sultanate's breakup after 1518 A.D.. It then became the nodal center of the Barid Shahis, one of the five independent sultanates known as the Deccan sultanates, that succeeded the Bahamnai dynasty. The Bidar Sultanate was absorbed by the Bijapur Sultanate in 1619 A.D. Bijapur was in turn conquered by the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb in 1686. Bidar was renamed as Jafferabad during the Mughal rule.

Bidar has a number of impsing structures. The fort was originally built by Ahmad Shah Wali in 1429. It was rebuilt during the regime of Nizam Shah and Mahmed Shah in the interval between 1463 A.D. and 1482 A.D. The fort is surrounded by three miles of walls and is fitted with 37 bastions. Most of the bastions are surmounted by cannons. Takht Mahal is a palace within the fort and it was built by Ahmed Shah. It was an exqusite building equipped with a meeting hall and a lovely gumbaz. Jami mosque and Sola Kambha Mosque also belong to this period. Most of it is now in ruins. The Solah Kambh Masjid (16-pillared mosque) is the oldest Muslim building in Bidar and it is one of the largest in India. Gagan Mahal, Diwan-e-Am, Royal Pavilion and Takhat Mahal are other important places to be seen within the fort.

Bidar contains a number of tombs built by its monarchs for themselves and their family members. Ahmed Shah’s tomb in Ashtur which is near by and the tombs built for Allauddin Shah, Allauddin Sha-2 and Hajarath Khaliullah are quite tall and and their inner walls are inlaid with intricate drawings and paintings. These tombs are built in the Mughal style.

The Madrasa built by Mahmood Gawan is one othe unique buildings in Bidar. It resembles the madrasas in Persia and it has spacious class rooms, library and dormitories for students and teachers. Blue-glazed tiles and Q'uranic verses carved on the walls in flowing calligraphic style that have survived the ravages of time, point to the erstwhile splendor of this building.The architecture is essentially a combination of Islamic and native styles.

The Barid Shahi rule brought out certain changes, Rangeen Mahal, built by Ali Barid for his own tomb is decorated with multi colored stone tablets. It is known also for its intricate carvings in wood and the pearl work.

Nanak Jharaa is a holy place for the Sikh community. and Narasimha Jharni is a temple built within a cave and one has to wade through chest deep water to reach the temple.

All in all, Bidar is one of the repositories of Islamic architecture in Karnataka.


Further Reading and Links:

1.      Bidar (An image of the Arabic University built by Mehmood Gawan of Bidar)

2. ( An imposing photograph of Bidar Fort)

3.      Bidar ( Many photographs depicting the relics of Bidar)


Home / Places