Bidar lies on the Deccan Plateau in the northeastern part of Karnataka; it is the headquarters of Bidar District, which borders Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh and is Karnataka’s northernmost district. Thanks to its location it is also known as the ‘crown’ of Karnataka.
Bidar has a rich and glorious history. Ancient Kalyan and medieval Bidar were known far and wide for their grandeur and were renowned as a seat of knowledge, culture and political power. The distinctive radical reformist movement launched by a group of Sharana pioneers originated here in the Bidar area and it had a long-lasting effect on the whole region down the ages.
Bidar is a charming district and its towns and villages are rich in history, dotted with many historic monuments and abounding in legends and tales of valor, long-forgotten battles, romance and more.
The name ‘Bidar’ seems to have been derived from ‘bidiru’ which means ‘bamboo’. It came to be known as Bidarooru, then Bidare, and finally Bidar.
Today, Bidar is rapidly developing into an educational hub thanks to a host of educational institutions and learning centers being set up here. These include Bidar Institute of Medical Sciences, Veterinary, Guru Nanak Dev Engineering College, Animal Husbandry and Fisheries Sciences University and Siddha Roodha Ayurvedic Medical College & Research Center and Pharmacy Colleges. The AJT (Hawk) training centre of the Indian Air force has been set up here too and you can delight in aircrafts whizzing through the sky.
Bidar city is known for its beautiful Bidri handicraft products and when you are here, make sure to shop for some. Manjira River is one of the main rivers supplying drinking water to Bidar. In recent times, Bidar was ranked 22nd among the cleanest cities in India, and the fifth cleanest in Karnataka.
Bidar is situated at an elevation of 2017 feet (615 m) and enjoys pleasant weather for most of the year. The summer months of April and May can be hot, but in June, when the southwest monsoon sets in, the heavy monsoon clouds bring with them cool winds and thundershowers. Winter is from December till mid-February.
Bidar is well connected by rail and road and the nearest airport is Hyderabad which is 140 km away. The best time to visit Bidar is between November and March when temperatures hover in the range of 25-32 degrees Celsius.
Did You Know?
614 M Above MSL
Bidar is strategically located almost in the center of geographical ‘Deccan’ and the eastern border of historical ‘Deccan’ and has been a melting pot of cultures from ancient times. In the third century BC, Bidar was a part of the Mauryan Empire. Subsequently, it came under the Satavahanas, Kadambas and Chalukyas of Badami and later the Rashtrakutas ruled over the region. Later, the Chalukyas of Kalyana and Kalachuris regained the area. After the Kalyani Chalukyas, Bidar came under the sevunas of Devgiri and Kakatiyas of Warangal for a brief period.
Subsequently, rulers from Delhi – first Allauddin Khilji and afterward Muhammed-bin-Tughluq – wrested control of the entire Deccan including Bidar. Around the mid-14th century, officers of the Sultan stationed in Deccan rebelled and the outcome was the establishment of Bahamani Dynasty in 1347 AD at Gulbarga. There were recurrent battles between the Bahamnis and the Vijaynagar kingdom. Around 1429 AD, the Bahamanis moved their capital from Gulbarga to Bidar thanks to its strategic location and pleasant weather. In 1430, Ahmad Shah Wali Bahamani developed Bidar and its fort was reconstructed. Following the disintegration of the Bahamani Empire in 1527 AD, Bidar became the capital of Barid Shahi whose rule lasted till 1619 AD. Until 1656 AD, Bidar was a part of the Adil Shahi Kingdom. In the mid 17th century, the Mughal emperor, Aurangzeb, conquered the Deccan and Bidar became a part of the Mughal Empire.
In 1713 AD Asaf Jah, a Mughal general, was appointed the subedar of the Deccan with the title of Nizam-Ul-Mulk. He was responsible for founding the house of the Nizams of Hyderabad in 1724. Hyderabad state, ruled by the Nizams, included Bidar and they continued to rule the region till 1948. Although Bidar’s history is punctuated with warfare, massacre and treachery, it was also denoted by excellent administration and the expansion of art, architecture and literature.
The golden era of administration in Bidar was during the time of Mohamed Gawan. He came to Bidar from Gilan in 1453, and won the heart of the sultan owing to his honesty, integrity and erudition. Mohamed Gawan led an austere life and served under four Bahmani kings. He worked as a minister and later as deputy. Gawan expanded the empire and also brought in a host of administrative reforms. The erudite scholar founded the distinguished Madarasa in Bidar. However, Gawan met a tragic end. His administrative reforms made him many enemies and some nobles conspired to kill him. On April 5, 1481, on the orders of Muhammad Shah, Gawan was executed. Shortly thereafter, the Sultan learnt the truth; he was grief-stricken and he fell ill and died soon after.
Bidar is renowned for its beautiful bidriware – magical handcrafted engraving and inlaying in black and silver. The finished product is embossed and the object is given special treatment with a mixture of the mud taken from the fort area and other chemicals to give it that characteristic jet black color. Bidriware dates back to the 14th century, to the time of the Bahmanis, and is Persian in origin. It is believed that a Persian artisan was invited over by the Bidar Sultan and he helped bring in and cultivate the technique.
The metal used in bidriware is a blackened alloy of zinc and copper inlaid with slim sheets of pure silver. The intricate bidri designs are by and large designs of stars, vine creepers and stylized poppy plants with flowers. Traditional patterns embrace the Persian rose and passages from the Quran in Arabic script. You can pick up bidri knickknacks like vases, animal carvings, plates, candle stands, tall wine jugs, hookahs, trays, bowls, boxes and even beautiful jewelry including hair clips, earrings and bangles. Do pick up some of this exquisite silver inlaid metal craft work when you are in Bidar.
Wood Carving Works
Nathwood Industries in Backchodi village of Bidar taluka, specializes in wood carving especially sandalwood. The carvings include idols of gods and goddesses and Lord Buddha too. These idols are marketed via Kaveri emporiums in Karnataka and Lepakshi in Andhra Pradesh. Carvings of Buddha have a great market in Japan, Taiwan and other Buddhist countries.
Do try out the distinctive local cuisine of Bidar which has influences of neighboring Maharashtra’s cooking. If you want something piquant, try Saaru – a spicy soup combining pepper, cumin, coriander seeds, asafetida, tomatoes and tamarind. Bele Palya is a main course vegetarian dish of lentils, cooked with assorted vegetables and sautéed with spices. You could try salads like Oggarave or Jeerike, which are local delicacies. Jhunkas (masala cakes made with Bengal gram powder) are worth savoring. Other savory dishes you could relish are Kosambari, Bhakri, Tumbu Gai, Shenga Chutney, Ranjaka, Mosaru and Anna. A meal at a local Udipi Brindavan restaurant is strongly recommended.
Bidar is dotted with numerous historical monuments dating back to the Bahmani era and other periods in history with the architecture being a mix of Hindu, Turkish and Persian styles. The edifice of the renowned Mahmud Gawan Arabic University is evocative of the splendid architecture of the Bahmani era. The Bidar Fort is one of the largest forts in India. Interestingly, thanks to its wealth of monuments, the entire city of Bidar is considered as the only South Indian Monument to be listed by the World Monument Fund in their 2014 World Monument Watch.
History buffs will be delighted with all that Bidar has on offer. Apart from the Bidar Fort, places of tourist interest include Gumbaz Darwaza, Bahamani Tombs, Baridi Tombs, Solah Khamb Mosque, Madarsa of Mahmud Gawan, Sharza Darwaza, Takht Mahal, Tarkash Mahal, Rangeen Mahal, Shahi Malbakh, Shahi Hammam, Gagan Mahal, Diwan-I-Am, Hazar Kothari, Old Naubat Khana, Chaubara, Takht-I-Kirmani, Chaukhandi, Jharani Narasimha Cave Temple, Nanak Jhira Sahib, Basavakalyan, PapnasTemple, Maniknagar and Anubhava Mantapa.
Bidarotsav ( January – February )
This weeklong event showcases the cultural heritage of Bidar. From musheiras and sher recitals, to kite flying competitions, street plays and a film festival for kids, the venues for these events include Bidar Fort, Madarasa Mahmood Gawan and Ragmandir Theater.
Veerbhadreshwara Jatra ( February )
This chariot procession is held in Humnabad, a Hindu pilgrimage centre near Bidar. It is one of Bidar’s most significant festivals.