The Bidar Fort is one of the most impressive monuments dotting the landscape of Bidar
. It was originally constructed by the rulers of the Chalukya dynasty
in the eight century AD and later renovated by succeeding dynasties. The fort reached the height of its architectural glory under the Mughal dynasty
. Situated at a height of 2200 feet, the Bidar fort provides a picturesque view from the top overlooking the Manjira River
The construction of the fort is a marvel to behold. It has been built of local laterite and trapstone of a circumference of 9-5 km (6 miles).The fort is protected on the North and the East by a steep hillside, and in the South and West by a triple moat with the intervening hedges hewn from solid rock. The fortifications are extremely strong with thirty seven bastions some of which still have heavy ordinance.
The fort has a total of seven gateways apart from the main entrance from the city. The main gateway was constructed by Sultan Ahmad Shah Wali of the Bahamani dynasty
in the year 1429.Te other seven gateways are the Mandu Darwaza, Kalmadgi Darwaza, the Delhi Darwaza, Kalyan Darwaza, Karnatak Darwaza and the postern and side gate. Long serpentine tunnels lead to the Eastern gateways.
The main entrance from the town is through a triple gate and zigzag passage. The outer gate was defended by a moat, now filled in, and scaled by two successive doors, the outer studded with spikes. Between the gates are guardrooms. The second gate has engraved tigers in low relief, above which is an old music gallery. A long fortified gallery leads to the third gate, which differs from the other two. It has an octagonal passage with guard recesses and a lofty dome enriched with bright painted colours.
The Munda Burj is in reality a gun platform, one of many huge bastions which project out and punctuate the outer walls. Three pedestals were built behind the walls to carry heavy artillery-the Black, Red and Long Gun Bastions. The citadel once stood at the highest point in the North with its own postern. It now lies largely in ruins. The walls between the fort and the towns are designed as separate compositions to enable the fort to be isolated from the town in times of emergency.
The fort contained extensive chambers for storage of powder, food and oil, as well as its own water supply.
Within the fort there are many mosques, palaces, arches and gardens, royal baths and kitchen and audience halls as well as pavilions for entertainment.
Most notable among the palaces is the Rangeen Mahal or the Coloured Palace. It is the best-preserved example of palace architecture in Bidar with beautiful carvings and an aesthetic style. The Palace was built by Ali Shah Barid in the sixteenth century. The thick black stone walls were once embellished with brightly coloured tiles, and the elaborately carved brackets and beams inlaid with mother of pearl can still be seen. The wooden furnishings of the Palace are also a major attraction. The palace floor has exquisite glazed-tile mosaics.
The Takht Mahal or the Throne Palace is yet another beautiful construction within the fort. It is possibly the palace of Shihab-ud-Din Ahmad I. The coronation of a number of Barid Shahi and Bahmani Kings took place in this palace. There are two side pavilions with exquisite surface ornament elegant arches here. Portions of the original ceramic tile work have been preserved on the large gateway on the western side of the court. This includes emblems of the tiger and the sun.
The Tarkash Mahal is said to have been built for a Turkish wife of the Sultan. It was later extended by the Barid Shahi rulers who had large harems.
The Gagan Mahal or Heavenly Palace was built by the Bahmani kings and later altered by the Barid Shahi dynasty of Bidar. There are two courts. The main building was used by the sultan and his harem.
The Diwan-i-Am or Hall of Public Audience is also called Jali Mahal. It lies west of the has two entrances, one from the east and one from the west. Behind the main hall are three chambers; the one in the centre was the sultan`s. Traces of tilework can still be discerned.
Old Naubat Khana was the residence of the commander of the fort. It has a large hall with a room to the west and a platform outside. There are windows at the rare which provide an excellent view of the city wall and buildings.
The fort also houses the Shahi Matkabh (royal kitchen), Hammam (royal bath) and near it is the Lal Bagh (red garden).
Solah Khamba Mosque (1327) was an important mosque and the centre of religious devotion. It lies to the west of Lal Bagh, has sixteen central pillars. Built in a sober and unaffected style, it is one of the earliest mosques in the Deccan, but was rebuilt extensively later. Over the large bay in front of the mihrab is a high dome raised on a circular drum ornamented with a frieze of trefoil merlons.
The Bidar fort is an outstanding testimony to the artistic inclinations of ancient India. The various palaces and buildings within the fort and the security measures undertaken served to provide the twin purposes of comfort and protection for the different rulers of Bidar.