image City of Whispering Ghosts

Bidar, Karnataka 

21-22 November 2015

It may have been a late adventure in my life, but traveling has become my means to retain sanity. 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 lived in Karnataka for 5 years, but so much of the place laves a taste of story untold for me. Bidar redefines the word eye-opener for me.

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 ther ‘Bidare’. Located in the north-easter part of Karantaka state of India on the deccan plateau, the city of Bidar comes under the category of neglected tourist detination, but has managed to carve 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, of the 61 monuments listed by the department, about 30 are tombs located in and around Bidar city, thereby justifying its nickname – The City of Whispering Monuments. The heritage sites in and around Bidar have become the major attraction for film shooting in recent years with Bollywood making visits apart from kannada film industry. How did I come across this place? Well, I should express my thanks to GoHeritage Run for this unique experience. No, I am not a fan of the whole running around part. But the idea of exploring a new place definitely captivated me.

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 rick Iranian and Persian cultural heritage of the rulers.

Places to see:

  1. Mahmud Gawan Madrasa

The residential university built by Khwaja Mahmud Gawan is a three storeyed building, comprising of a conventional hall, library, lecture halls, chambers for the professors and a mosque. Most of the building is in completely in shambles and there is a caretaker available who is ready to open up the gates if you are willing to shell out some extra cash.

One of the the pillars from the monument has been preserved and used as a center piece in one of the traffic/ road junction.

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2. Bidar Fort. 

Most of the structures are currently in ruins, but Bidar Fort is definitely one of the most impressive and formidable (as per the literature) forts of the country. The area surrounding the fort complex provides a glimpse into the past and you can actually imagine how the past glory days could have been for the ancient monument. (Definitely look into the slideshow that I am presenting below. Too many pictures seem to overcrowd the entirety of my post)

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The main citadel complex housed the royal places. Mahals and Mosque. Adjoining to this on the southern side, the city was built for the people. I have never favored exercise of any form. However, Bidar Fort definitely made me appreciate my fitness to a whole new level. The terrain is definitely bit rugged, but the roads built around the main citadel complex is quite commendable. During my exploring rambling, I came across numerous cycling enthusiasts who literally commended the whole terrain encompassing Bidar Fort.

I would definitely commend visitors to take a peek at Rangeen Mahal, which is 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 was during the heritage week that was being celebrated, most of the building were under rennovations, and hence I can not abide by statement with beautiful pictures.

Each buidling in Bidar Fort is separately named. However due to the lack of maintenance of the monuments along with lack of a proper tourist guy, it is quite difficult to understand or appreciate which is what. The attempts at renovating some of the notable highlights also proved to be a hindrance in actually viewing some of these monuments.

3. Choubara (Watch Tower)

Like the name suggests, this 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.

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4. Tour of Tombs

During my excursion of Bidar, I finally realised that more than the historical Bidar fort, the city echoes more with the whispers of the Tombs that seem to have surrounded the city in ample numbers. In a way, you can safely conclude that I went for a tour of tombs.

Chaukhandi of Hazrat Khalil Ullah is a tomb built in honor of the spiritual advisor of Sultan Ahmed Shah, a mughal emperor. Tomb in general, looks unremarkable; however, this two-storeyed octagonal shaped tomb compliments the architectural style and features calligraphy and stone work that can be appreciated from far.

Bahmani Tombs are located 4 kms from Bidar and consists of large mausoleums with lofty domes and 12 tombs in total. Like I stated earlier, most of the monuments are unlabeled and literally left up for the visitors to explore and comprehend on their own. So I found it quite difficult to actually relate the tombs to the actual names. However, the guard posted outside informed that the tomb of Ahmad Shah Wali hoards the maximum pilgrims during one of their local festivals.

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Barid Shahi Garden is a beautiful tourist park built around few historical monuments housing the tombs of the Barid Shahi family. This park is well equipped with facilities for kids, though I believe the lovers are more fond of this area 😉 The park is open from 4 Pm – 6 PM.

Before you visit the park, you come across another set of monuments. Not sure of the name, though these set of tomb is also listed with the Shahi family as per the information provided by my auto driver. However, I couldn’t find the information in any literature that is out there on the net.

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, but I will definitely continue the rest of my travelogue in my Monday feature.

How to get there: 

Train and Flights are always there, but I somehow find comfort in traveling via Redbus services. This private traveling service has managed to provide an extensive networking that is easily accessible.

Where to stay:

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.

Budget:

Bidar was truly a flick on my wallet. With the bus, hotel and local transportation, I was able to complete my trip within 2500 rupees (i.e. approx. 38$) Pretty cheap isn’t it?

What all to see?

  1. 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 of 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.
  2. Papanash Shiva Temple.
  3. Gurudwara Nanak Jhira Sahib is a beautiful Sikh religious place that will fill you with calm and serenity.
  4. 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 f the experts accompanying you to navigate you through the aqueduct system.
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