The majestic fortress stood proudly before me with all its faded glory that even the ravages of time could not entirely take away. We’re on our way to Bidar Fort around 8 am from Begumpet, the heart of Hyderabad city. It’s about a 150 km drive from there. We stopped in Zaheerabad for a hearty breakfast of fresh idlis and sambhar, and washed it down with coffee. Once there it was a non-stop drive to our destination.
The first thing you notice about Bidar Fort is its sheer perfection, even though many of its buildings are now in ruins. Yet it is not difficult to imagine what a stunning structure it must have been in its time. The fortress had everything to protect it from outside attacks. The peripheral walls of 4,100 m are home to royal palaces, gardens, a mosque, fountains with floral motifs, royal baths on gallows and dungeons. There is also chaubara – a 71 meter watchtower. We reached the top and got a grand view of the city below. We entered Bidar Fort through the Gumbad Darwaza, one of the seven gates.
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And there was the legendary Rangin Mahal. Even after all this time, our delicately carved wooden pillars and tilework left us mesmerized. But the real showpiece of Rangin Mahal are the Persian couplets carved on a beautiful mother-of-pearl inlay against a striking background of black granite. The Gagan Mahal showcases the Persian architectural style and sports glazed mosaics. The approach consists of black granite steps with red sandstone. Further afield there is the famous Solah Khamba Masjid (named after its 16 pillars). Built in 1423 CE, the impressive prayer hall is now the oldest mosque in Bidar Fort.
We also got a glimpse into the exciting Hazar Kothri (or the Thousand Cells). Our guide told us that during the war the royal family used these underground hidden passages not only for a safe exit outside the fortress, but also to confuse invaders. Even during the day the place was quite spooky. A quick photo session around cannons afterwards, housed in prominent locations atop towers later, it was time to bid adieu to the great fortress.
How do you get there:
By Train: Although Bidar Fort is located in Karnataka, it is the closest to Hyderabad
by road or rail (from Begumpet or Secunderabad junction).
By Road: From Afzal Gunj (South Hyderabad) MGBS (Mahatma Gandhi Bus Stand), buses run to Bidar every 15 minutes. The city of Bidar is also connected to Mumbai and Bangalore by road and air. It is accessible from Gulbarga (110 km away) by road.