Bidar is many things in one. A small town on the northern tip of Karnataka the place is steeped in history, adorned with marvels of Bahmani architecture and home to one of the most fascinating handicraft forms from India. As a small town, it does pack a big punch for any tourist, especially the ones in love with history!
Bidar is about 150 km away from Hyderabad and is well connected by road and rail. I have visited Bidar multiple times, driven by my love for the fascinating Bidri craft. This journal therefore puts together snippets of my Bidar experience from the multiple visits.
Bidar, was the seat of the erstwhile Bahmani rulers of late medieval India. A progressive clan, the Bahmanis established schools and universities, and created a community of tolerance, respect and social justice. The Bidar fort, built over a hilly terrain has a range of architectural relics for the eager eyes. From dilapidated fort wall sitting on which, one could think of the soldiers on horses that galloped on this land, or the beautiful queens who walked the gardens of the palace to the well maintained manicured gardens and Mosque that throw a glimpse into the splendour and grandeur of the rulers. If you are a history lover it would be advisable to hire one of the local guides who can take you to many corners of the fort and explain the timeline and purpose of the construction. The civic infrastructure planning of the fort (water-canals, double layered security, roads, granaries) throws many insights into a forward thinking kingdom that existed here.
After few hours at the fort a must visit on the list would be the tombs of Ashtoor. Few kilometres of drive from the fort, Ashtoor has the tombs of the Bahmani rulers and their family laid in beautiful tombs. What makes Ashtoor such a draw is its location amidst lush hillocks and the fact that there are hardly any people around. If the idea of taking long walks among old tombs, with big trees and green grass around them fascinate you – make it a point to come to Ashtoor. The tombs also, host an annual fair and festival where nightlong Qawwalis and prayers are performed by locals and visiting communities from the region. At Ashtoor, during one of my visits I was also fortunately bumped into the latest surviving member of the Bahmani clan. Khan Sahib took us to his house in a nearby village and showed us the relics (old swords, armours and chains) that he retains from the family heirloom.
Bidar, is incomplete without the fascinating story of Bidriware. A craft which traces its origin from Persia and is said to have a history of over 700 years it is a highly localized craft. Thin silver wires are etched on an object of zinc (White in the color). When the object is boiled in a mud bath consisting of the Bidar soil and few other chemicals the white metal miraculously turns to black within minutes and. The white of silver against the black base of this metal is what Bidriware is. Today the craft employs over 100 artisans and creates objects of great beauty appreciated by collectors around the world.
So, that is Bidar for you. For the rest you would need to pack your bags and set off the winding road and answer the call of Ghumr. May be, for each traveller, a place like Bidar holds an individual charm. It has stories waiting for each one, stories that stay forever!