Basavakalyan

The city of Basavakalyan is best known for its historical Basavakalyan Fort, which is considered to be one of the oldest and most imposing forts in South India. Built in the 10th century, it is indeed a formidable sight. It has been strategically built as a defence point and there are interconnecting boulders with strong fort walls scattered on the hills. The entrance of the fort is through seven gates, five of which are perfectly preserved. At the main entrance, there is a solid arch that has lofty balconies. Two flights of steps flank this arch, via which one can reach the balconies. The main gate of the citadel is called Akhand Darwaza and has been built with four red stone slabs.

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Basavakalyan

Bhalki

Lying on the outskirts of Bidar, Bhalki is an off-beat travel destination that mostly invites history-lovers. The main attraction is the Bhalki Fort that was built between 1820 and 1850 by Ramachandra Jadhav and Dhanaji Jadhav, under king Jang Bahadur (Khas Rajput ruler of Nepal). Built in black stone, the fort is spread over an area of five acre. This fort houses a rich collection of the depot of arms and ammunition of the Maratha army.

The structure is quadrangle in design and has one bastion and 20-ft-high walls. During the British rule, the fort fell into the possession of the Nizam of Hyderabad. It also has two important temples: Kumbheshwar Temple that lies within its premises and Bhalkeshwar Temple that lies slightly away. On one side of the fort wall lies a stepwell and on the other, is a narrow passage that leads to a courtyard in the north. On the northern end, there is a temple dedicated to Lord Ganesha.

Bhalki

Mahmud Gawan Madrasa

Functional for two centuries after being built in 1472, this institution is an important historical site today. It included 36 rooms for the students, a large and impressive library, a renowned madrasa, a laboratory, and boarding facilities for both students as well as teachers. Apart from the madrasa, the building was also famous because of the artwork and its architectural beauty. Verses from the Quran are also part of the inscription. The front gate is covered in exquisite tile-work. In its hay day, the institution attracted tens of thousands of scholars as well as students from across the Islamic world. Architecturally, this madrasa is similar to another important landmark, the madrasa at Fez.

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Mahmud Gawan Madrasa

Chaubara Tower

Situated in the centre of Bidar town, this old cylindrical tower is 22 m high. It commands a great view of the entire plateau and was once used as a watchtower. Today, it is an important historical monument and a clock tower. The word 'chaubara' means a building facing in four directions. It is believed that the tower was built in the pre-Islamic period and follows semi-Islamic architecture. The tower has a circular base, which is 180 ft in circumference and 16 ft high. Small arched enclosures have been built along its lower parts and there is a large clock on top of the tower. The top is accessed by a winding flight of 80 steps. Four rectangular openings make sure that the tower gets enough light and air.

Chaubara Tower

Bahmani Tombs at Ashtur

About 12 impressive tombs of Bahmani rulers, the erstwhile sovereigns of the region, are located in Ashtur, on the outskirts of the city. Built between 1436 to 1535, they are a fine example of the architecture of that time. Perhaps the most impressive of these is the tomb of Ahmad Shah I (1422-1436), which is more than 30 m high. Its interiors have been painted in stunning colours and intricate designs.

Other tombs are also striking and many of them have gilded paintings on the ceilings. One also finds Quran verses inscribed in gold colour decorating the walls. Tourists can also look out for the arches, niches and lofty domes. One can even spot the Swastika symbol, associated with Hinduism in one of the mausoleums. Another notable tomb is that of Ali Barid that has a 25-m-high dome and stands in the middle of a symmetrical four square garden. The tomb of Sultan Allauddin-Shah II is decorated with tile panels and arches with margins adorned with carvings. Connoisseurs of medieval art will find the well-preserved Islamic paintings of high interest. The typical configuration of the tombs is that the inner walls are adorned with paintings while the outer walls are covered in beautiful tile work.

Bahmani Tombs at Ashtur

Rangeen Mahal

A unique amalgamation of Hindu and Islamic art and architectural techniques, the spectacular Rangeen Mahal was built in the 16th century. Its walls are adorned with coloured tiles and beautiful stucco art. One of the most attractive features of the palace is a rectangular six-bay hall with carved wooden columns, decorated with elaborate capitals as well as carved brackets. Similarly, the wooden frames that lead to the inner chambers are also ornamented with beautiful tile-work. The entrance doorway is inscribed with verses from the Quran.

Suitably titled rangeen or colourful, this modest-sized palace is among the many well-kept secrets of Bidar. It is the best preserved structure within the precincts of the Bidar fort complex. There are also several examples of unique wood and stone carvings, which are superb examples of the regions characteristic aesthetic. The piece de resistance, however, are the designs made on several walls that include the finest quality of mother-of-pearl inlaid in brilliant black stone. One can easily reach Rangeen Mahal from the splendid Gumbaz Darwaza.

Rangeen Mahal