Bidar Fort, Karnataka, a splendid structure steeped in history that followed better water management system

Bidar fort - wide

Bidar fort, /

Solah Kambha Mosque in Bidar Fort

Among the old forts of India,  Bidar Fort of  Karnataka is a celebrated one and the town of Bidar became the seat of power of  Sultan Alla-Ud Din Bahman of the Bahmanid Dynasty  who, for many reasons, shifted his base  in 1427 from Gulburga to this new one. As the region  was prone to raids and invasions from other Islamic rulers, he had a strong fort  built along with several structures with its confines . It is said that  there are as many as 30  Islamic monuments inside  the Bidar fort. This fort also is well known for old water structures like the Karez underground aqua ducts, terracotta pipes lines that supply water in heritage structures and the step wells in the nearby farms. Bidar is a nice tourist destination that will never disappoint you if you look for new adventures. 

Standing on a natural plateau where laterite stones are available in plenty,  with the river  Manjira (a\tributary of Godavari) on the north,  Bidar is part of the Godavari basin in North Karnataka. The Bidar district is geologically a part of the Deccan plateau  (elevation is 2200 feet) made of mainly volcanic rocks called basalt underlain by  gneissic rocks forming the eastern boundary. Bidar is just 116 km (72 mi) northeast of Gulbarga and 130 km (81 mi) on NH 9 from Hyderabad. 

Location map Bidar, Karnataka,

Bidar fort  built by Ahmad Shah Wali Bahman had  double  lines of defensive fortifications for extra protection which is not present now; the old fort forms the western extension of the present fort.   It was in the year 1321-22 AD  Prince Ulugh Khan of the Tughlaq dynasty (later was known  as Sultan Muhammad bin Tughluq) of Delhi Sultanate, captured Bidar. When Bahmini sultanate was established in 1347, Bidar was occupied by Sultan Ala-ud-Din Bahman Shah.   Bidar was made the capital city of Bahmani Kingdom during the reign of Ahmad Shah I 1422-1486.   Besides rebuilding the old Fort, Ahmed Shah I  also had madrasas, mosques, palaces and gardens  built there by 1432 CE.  Bidar had a chequered   history.  The fort was captured by the  Bijapur Sultanate in 1619–20, later came under the control of Mogul  viceroy Aurangzeb in 1657. In 1686, it became the part of the Mogul Empire. In 1724, Bidar  changed hands and this time it became a part of the Asaf Jahi Kingdom of the Nizams of Hyderabad. Asif Jah (first Nizam)'s third son   Nawab Mir Sa'id Muhammad Khan  (the first Nizam of the dynasty), ruled from Bidar fort from 1751 till  1762,  when his own brother  Mir Nizam Ali Khan, also known as Asaf Jah II, imprisoned him and later killed him in the fort on 16 September 1763. 

Bidar Fort, Karnataka  /

 Mahamud Gawan, Bidar, Karnatka.

Bidar fort is built mostly of laterite stones (laterite stones are equally strong as  small grains, pebbles, etc are well compacted and bound together by the leaching of iron oxide from the ground.  (Laterite  stones are widely used in the foundation work of many buildings in Tamil nadu, The Maratha buildings in Thanjavur town and elsewhere  are known to have foundation made of big blocks of laterite stones).  The fort is 0.75 mi (1.21 km) long by 0.5 mi (0.80 km) in breadth (?) The fort walls measure 2.5 km (1.6 mi) on the outside. The fort is surrounded by a moat whose width varies from 32 feet to 42 feet; the depth  is 30 feet. 

The fort can be accessed by 7 gates strategically located from east to west. They are:  Gate 1 - The Mandu Darwaza, the main gate, Gate 2 - The Kalmadgi Darwaza, Gate 5 - The Delhi Darwaza,
Bidar fort, Cannon in the bastion

Gate 6 - The Kalyani Darwaza,  Gate 7 - The Carnatic Darwaz,,  Gates 3 and 4 are without a name.There are 37 bastions on the wall with canons made of bars of metals welded together and held firmly together with metal hooks mounted on the bastions. 

Bidar Fort, Karnataka.

Within the fort there are many buildings that show the influence of Persian architectural style. The include  mosques, arches, gardens and the palaces built within and also outside the fort in  Bidar. 
Old Madrasa, Bidar

Entrance to the Karez system in Bidar

Innovative systems of water management are seen in and around the fort and the town  of Bidar.  The salient feature is the unique  water management system called Karez system, which is of  Persian origin.  The rocky soil is not suitable for  water percolation downward. Hence this system was successfully employed here. It consists of a network of underground  canals punctuated by vertical shafts to the surface  at certain points. This system uses the ground water sources and  takes the water supply to the settlement areas where the canals end in the pond or a huge water tank. The water is used for drinking , washing, ablution, agriculture, etc.  The karez  system was built with a view to supplying water   to civilian settlements and the garrison inside the Bidar fort. This fort once had   21 vertical shafts, and extends for about 2 kilometres (1.2 mi). Only 17 are visible rest were closed by the  real estate builders. In the past the Bidar fort could handle long sieges by enemies backed by sufficient water supply.