Bidar Fort

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Bidar Fort
Part of Bidar
Bidar, India
Panaromic Entrance View.jpg
Panaromic Entrance View of Bidar Fort
Bidar Fort Entrance.jpg
Bidar Fort is located in Karnataka
Bidar Fort
Bidar Fort
Coordinates (17°55′19″N 77°31′25″E / 17.9219°N 77.5236°E / 17.9219; 77.5236)[1]
Type Fort
Site information
Controlled by Government of Karnataka
Open to
the public
Condition Ruins
Site history
Built 15th century
Built by Ala-ud-din Bahman of Bahmani Sultanate in 1424
Materials Granites and lime mortar

Bidar Fort (Kannada ಬೀದರ್ ಕೋಟೆ) is situated in Bidar district of the northern plateau of Karanataka, India. Sultan Alla-Ud-Din Bahman of the Bahmanid Dynasty shifted his capital from Gulbarga to Bidar in 1427 and built his fort along with a number of Islamic monuments.[1][2][3]

Bidriware is a very popular handicraft, an art form with 800 years history with linkage to the Persian art, from which it evolved during the rule of the Bahamani Sultans. During 2008, Bidriware, as one of the important exported handicrafts from India, was awarded the Geographical Indication (G.I) authorized user status which is exclusive to the artisans resident in the Karnataka region only.[4]


The fort, the town and the district are all affixed with the name Bidar. The town and the fort are located on the edge of an oblong shaped plateau, which measures 22 miles (35 km) in length and 12 miles (19 km) in width at its broadest, encompassing a total area of 12 square miles (31 km2). The ancient capital Kalyani (Basavakalyan) of Kalyani Chalukya is situated about 40 miles (64 km) to the west of Bidar.[1][5]

River system

The Bidar town and the surrounding terrain in the district are drained by the Karanja River, a tributary of Manjira River, which in turn is a major tributary of the Godavari River.[5][6]


Climate is salubrious throughout the year, even during the months of April and May in summer, sharp and sudden thunder showers cools the place. By early June the south-west monsoon dominates adding to the pleasant weather of the place. Winter is also a pleasant season. The city and the villages in its vicinity have a rich heritage of historical monuments and legends.[7]


The history of the present fort at Bidar is attributed to the Sultan Ala-ud-Din Bahman Shah the first sultan of the Bahmani dynasty to 1427 when he shifted his capital from Gulbarga to Bidar since it had better climatic conditions and was also a fertile and fruit bearing land. Earliest recorded history of its existence as a small and strong fort is also traced to the first Muslim invasion of the region is traced to Prince Ulugh Khan in 1322, whereafter it came under the reign of the Tughlaq dynasty.[1][2] With the establishment of the Bahmani dyanasty (1347), Bidar was occupied by Sultan Alla-Ud-Din Bahman Shah Bahmani. During the rule of Ahmad Shah I (1422–1486), Bidar was made the capital city of Bahmani Kingdom. The old Fort was rebuilt and beautiful madrasas, mosques, palaces and gardens were raised. Mahmmad Gawan who became the Prime Minister in 1466 was a notable figure in the history of Bidar. Bidar remained under the Barid Shahi dynasty until it was captured by the Mughal emperor Aurangazeb in 1656 A.D. In 1724, Bidar became a part of the Asaf Jahi Kingdom of the Nizams.[1] It was annexed by the Bijapur Sultanate in 1619–20 but the Mughal viceroy of Aurangzeb took it in 1657 and thus became a part the Mughal Empire in 1686.[5] Third son of Asaf jah l ( Nizam l ) Nawab Said Mohammed Khan Asaf ud Daula ( Salabath Jung ) ruled from Bidar fort from 1751 to 1762 till his Brother Mir Nizam Ali Khan Asaf Jah III Imprisoned him in this fort, and was killed in Bidar fort in 16 September 1763. Mohammedabad old name of Bidar is also on his name.

Thus, Bahmanis ruled over Gulbaraga from 1347 to 1424 and from Bidar from 1424 till the extinction of the kingdom and its disintegration into five independent and warring kingdoms of Bijapur, Golconda, Ahmadnagar, Bidar and Berar. After India's independence, in 1956 when Bidar became part of Mysore (now Karnataka) state.[5][8][9]


With the establishment of the Bahmani Kingdom in the Deccan from 1347, the architectural styles of the Persian architecture of Iran made impressive and lasting impacts, which are seen in the Bidar Fort. The mosques, arches, gardens and the palaces were built within and also outside the fort in the Bidar town. Some of the important structures built are elaborated.[1][10] Innovative systems of water management are seen in and around the fort and town of Bidar.[11]

The influence of Persian culture was distinct in Bidar in the Deccan, during 15th and 16th centuries.[12]

The fort
Bidar Fort, Karnataka

The Bidar fort, constructed on the edge of the plateau, has a haphazard quadrangular layout plan of 0.75 miles (1.21 km) in length and 0.5 miles (0.80 km) breadth. The peripheral length of the fort walls measure 4,500 yards (4,100 m). 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.[1][5][8]

There are seven gates in the fort. The dominant main gate exhibits Persian style architecture. The ‘Gumbad Darwaza’ depicts arches with stilted size, also in Persian style. The ‘Sherza Darwaza’ of Bidar Fort, the second gate of entry, depicts two images of tigers carved on its fascia; according to Shia belief, the tiger decorations are indicative of Ali who was also known as Asadullah-Al Ghalib that assured protection to the building from enemy attack.[10] The other gates are the Fateh Gate on the south (has octagonal towers and drawbridge); the Talghat Gate in the east; the Delhi Gate and the Mandu Gate. The prominent bastion at the entry is known as the ’Munda Burj’ with guns positioned on it.[1]

It is said that the Bahmani Sultanate claimed lineage of the Sasanians and the motifs on their buildings, particularly the crowns of the arches that they built depicted a crescent and occasionally a disk that was closely reminiscent of the crowns of the Sassanian emperors.[13]

Madrasa or Islamic school
The Madrasa- Islamic school of learning
College Campus of yesteryears.jpg Complete view of Mahumad Gawan.JPG
View of Islamic college campus Complete view of Bidar madrasa

The Madrasa or the Islamic school was built by Khwaza Mahmud Gawan, the Persian scholar, the General and the Prime Minister in the court of Mohamad Shah III. Mahmud Gawan was a native of Gillan in Iran. It has been built in distinct Persian architectural style. Gawan had invited architects and engineers from Persia and other middle east countries to build the edifices in the fort (this is inferred from a collection of letters under the title "Riyad al-Insha" written by Gawan to build his madrasa). The madrasa has its parallel in the Madrasa of Kharghid near Meshhed. The madrasa is a three storied building with a quadrangular plan with towering minarets; it is unlike the Indian minarets in that the first and second floors have balconies that project from the main structure and have curvilinear forms without any bracket support. The fascia has a strip of coloured chevron tile work on the parapet in a cusped pattern, in typical Persian style. The bulbous domes are, however, in the Timurind style.[1][14] In 1696, the madrasa was damaged by lightning. When it was housed the cavary barracks and powder magazine, it was subject to more damage. Even in the present ruined state, the madaras looks an impressive edicifce.[15]

Mosques in the Fort
Bidar Fort.jpg The Great Mosque or Sola Khamb Masjid at Bedar.jpg
Main courtyard of the fort The Great Mosque or Sola Khamb Masjid

Bidar has two prominent mosques – the spacious 'Jami Masjid' (the "Great Mosque") and the 'Solah Khamba Masjid' (16 pillared mosque) with a notable dome built on a 16-sided drum.[1]

Jami Masjid, a large mosque, is without minarets or prominent domes.[5] The mosque though simple in design but has a symmetrical plan with well organized constituent parts.[16]

Solah Khamba Mosque in the fort was built in 1327. Its long prayer hall has nineteen passageways; each passage is five compartments deep. In plan, the mosque measures 295 feet (90 m) x 77 feet (23 m). The main prayer hall is supported by 18 piers; the other areas of the mosque are supported by 60 round piers. All the piers support a roof which has 84 domes. The domes are flat with features of pendentives. Massive circular columns supporting the structure are fashioned with leafy motifs at the top. The Mihrab (prayer niche) located on the rear wall is enclosed by a cusped arch. The bays form a large chamber in the entrance. Squinches support the dome with braces designed as elephant trunks. The outer arcade lacks any original features, the parapet of pierced interlocking battlements were a later addition. The main dome has flattish shape and is supported on a circular drum, which is embellished with relief of trefoil crenellations.[17][18]


The Gagan Mahal (Public Audience Hall) or palace in Persian architectural style has glazed mosaics and has an approach with arresting black granite steps interlaid with red sandstone. It has stilted arches. There are two outlines on each of the eastern and northern facades. Persian emblems of the Lion along with the raising Sun in the background flank the arches on both sides. They are all in mosaic of beautiful coloured tiles.[1][19] The Rangin Mahal (Painted Palace) built by Ali Barid Shah has impressive arabesque designs with display of the art of Quranic calligraphy. The zenana palace depicts bright painted murals. Other impressive structures seen, also built in exquisite Persian style, are the Lal Bagh, the Takhat Mahal (the throne room), the 70 feet (21 m) Chaubara and the Watch Tower.[1]

Beyond the fort's limits, on the east, domed tombs of eight Bahmanī kings are located, while to the west lies the royal necropolis of the Barīd sultans.[5]

Handicraft of Bidar[edit]

Bidriware handicraft products
Hookah base Louvre MAO739.jpg Bidriware Hookah.jpg
Bidriware product, based on Zinc, copper sheets and deep soil in the fort Another Bidriware - the Hookah

Bidriware, popularly known as "A Magic in Black and Silver" is a delicate metal ware containing silver and gold inlaid on iron. It is a very popular art form of over 800 year vintage art form of Persia promoted in Bidar with specific link to the foundation soils contained in the forts precincts. This art is exported to other countries. Zinc and copper are the basic metals used to make this handicraft. The design patterns are inlaid on pure silver wire or thin sheets. They are normally "damascened (ornamented with wavy lines) in floral and geometric designs".[1][4][5][20]

Another important ingredient in making this handicraft, made by highly skilled labour, is the soil from the basement of ancient buildings inside the Bidar Fort. It is claimed that this soil gives a lustrous black colour to the Bidriware because such soil has not been exposed to rain or sunlight for centuries. In view of high skill and special materials used in its manufacture it is possible to make it only as a handicraft.[4]


Bidar is well connected by road, rail and air links. Bidar town is situated about 740 kilometres (460 mi) north of Bangalore India on NH 7, 116 kilometres (72 mi) northeast of Gulbarga and 130 kilometres (81 mi) on NH 9 from Bangalore Via Gulbarga and Bellary. Nearest airport is the BIDAR Airport and also BIAL, BANGALORE. Bidar Fort is 115 km from Miyapur, Hyderabad.

In Popular Culture[edit]

The song Ishq Sufiyaana from the hit Bollywood film of 2011, The Dirty Picture was shot in the Bidar Fort. The song had sequences in the fort with Vidya Balan and Emraan Hashmi.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]



  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Heritage araeas". National Informatics Centre. Retrieved 2009-11-07. 
  2. ^ a b "Islamic culture, Volume 17". Gulbarga Fort (Islamic Culture Board). 1943. pp. 27, 30. Retrieved 2009-11-07. 
  3. ^ "Bidar City Municipal Council". Tourism. Government of Karnataka. 
  4. ^ a b c "Life of Bidriware artisans looking up". The Hindu. 2006-11-01. Retrieved 2009-11-09. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h "Geography and travel". Encyclopædia Britannica. Archived from the original on 4 December 2009. Retrieved 2009-11-08. 
  6. ^ "Bidar: River systems and drainage". National Informatics Centre. Retrieved 2009-11-08. 
  7. ^ "Bidar: The Land". National Informatics Centre. Retrieved 2009-11-08. 
  8. ^ a b Sherwani, Haroon Khan (1969). "Cultural trends in medieval India: architecture, painting, literature & language". Gulbarga Fort (Asia Pub. House). pp. 14–16. Retrieved 2009-11-07. 
  9. ^ "Gulbarga Fort". British Library On Line gallery. Retrieved 2009-11-07. 
  10. ^ a b Joshi, P. M.; M. A. Nayeem and Teotonio R. De Souza (1996). "Mediaeval Deccan history: commemoration volume in honour of Purshottam ...". Art and Architecture of Bidar (Popular Prakashan). pp. 44–45. ISBN 978-81-7154-579-7. Retrieved 2009-11-07. 
  11. ^ Sohoni, Pushkar and Klaus Rötzer, ‘Nature, Dams, Wells and Gardens: The Route of Water in and around Bidar’ in Daud Ali and Emma Flatt (ed.), Garden and Landscape Practices in Pre-Colonial India (New Delhi: Routledge, 2011), pp. 54-73.
  12. ^ "Bidar". Encycopeida Iranica. Archived from the original on 19 December 2009. Retrieved 2009-11-08. [dead link]
  13. ^ "Sasanian Royal Emblems and their Reemergence in the Fourteenth-Century Deccan". Retrieved 2009-11-04. 
  14. ^ Joshi p.45
  15. ^ "Ruined Madrasa at Bidar". British Library Online Gallery. Retrieved 2009-10-29. 
  16. ^ Cumming, Sir John (2006). "Revealing India's Past". Gulbarga Fort (Read Books). p. 424. ISBN 978-1-4067-0408-2. Retrieved 2009-11-08. 
  17. ^ "The Great Mosque or Sola Khamb Masjid at Bedar". British Libraray Online Gallery. Retrieved 2009-09-27. 
  18. ^ Michell, George; Mark Zebrowski (1999). "Architecture and art of the Deccan sultanates, Volume 1". Solah Khmaba Mosque (Cambridge University Press). p. 63. ISBN 978-0-521-56321-5. Retrieved 2009-11-07. 
  19. ^ Joshi p.44-45
  20. ^ "Bidri Ware - A Magic in Black and Silver". National Informatcs Centre. Retrieved 2009-11-09.