Bidar Fort – The erstwhile capital of the Bahmani Kingdom

Bidar Fort is situated in Bidar city of the Indian state of Karnataka. Originally built in the 8th century, the old fort of Bidar was captured in 1321-22 AD by Prince Ulugh Khan of the Tughlaq dynasty, who later on became Sultan Muhammad bin Tughluq of Delhi. With the establishment of the Bahmani Sultanate in 1347, Bidar was occupied by Sultan Alauddin Bahman Shah. During the rule of Ahmad Shah I (1422-1486), Bidar was made the capital of Bahmani Kingdom. He rebuilt the old fort and erected beautiful madrasas, mosques and palaces inside it. Long and winding fort walls were constructed out of stone and mortar by Persian and Turkish architects.

Bidar fort was captured by the independent Bijapur Sultanate in 1619-20 but fell to the Mughal viceroy Aurangzeb in 1657, and was formally absorned by the Mughal Empire in 1686. In 1724 Bidar became part of the Asaf Jahi Kingdom of the Nizams. Nawab Mir Said Muhammad Khan, also known as Salabath Jung, who was the third son of Asaf Jah I ruled from Bidar fort from 1751 to 1762, till his brother Mir Nizam Ali Khan also known as Asaf Jah II, imprisoned him and later killed him in the fort on 16th September 1763. The old name of Bidar “Mohammedabad” refers to the rule of Salabath Jung. In 1956 when the state of Hyderabad was partitioned, Bidar fort became part of the newly formed Mysore state, now Karnataka.

The Bidar fort was constructed on the edge of a plateau and has a haphazard rhombus-shaped layout. The present day fortress was rebuilt using red laterite stone around the old fort in 1428 by Ahmed Shah Bahman. The fort is 1.21 km long and 0.80 km in breadth. The fort walls measure 2.5 km on the outside and include within numerous buildings, arches, pavilions, mosques, gateways and gardens. To the north and east, steep cliffs provide natural protection to the moat and the glacis elsewhere, the walls are protected by a unique tripe channeled moat. There were seven gates to the Fort.

There are 37 bastions on the fort walls, with cannon made of bars of metal welded together and held together by metal hoops were mounted on the bastions. The fort has number of monuments within the fortress complex. Prominent among them are the Rangin Mahal, Takht Mahal, the Jami masjid and the Sola Khamba Masjid (Sixteen pillar mosque). Most of these structures are in ruins now.

The spiked doors of the Bidar fort
Another gate of the Bidar Fort
An arched door inside the fort
The triple moat of Bidar fort
Another arched gate inside the fort
Inside the fort – ruins
Inside the fort
One of the buildings inside the fort
More structures inside the fort
Fort interior
The dome of the Sola Khamba Masjid
Arched gateways inside the fort
More ruins inside the fort
The steep cliff at the north end
More structures inside the fort
One of the arched gateways inside the fort
One of the bastions and the moat below
Inside the fort

How to reach:
Bidar railway station is well connected with the rest of the country.

Bidar is well connected with the nearby cities by a network of buses by both Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation and private buses. Hyderabad is 147 kms from Bidar.

Mirjan Fort – An architectural wonder in laterite stone

The Mirjan Fort is located on the west coast of the Indian state of Karnataka. The fort was built in the 16th century by Queen Chennabhairadevi of Gersoppa. She ruled for 54 years and also lived in the fort. During her reign the port at Mirjan was used for shipping pepper, saltpetre (Potassium nitrate) and betel nut to Surat. The fort known for its architectural elegance, was the location for several battles in the past.

In 1757 the Marathas had seized the Mirjan Fort. The event that led to the capture of the fort was due to the death of Basappa Naik, the last ruler of Bednur, in 1755. His wife has taken control, representing her 17 year old adopted son, Chanbasaviah. Since her adopted son opposed her taking a “paramour”, she got him murdered. This had resulted in a revolt by the agitated local people, and taking advantage of the situation the Marathas had captured the fort.

You can see both Portuguese and Islamic influences in the fort’s construction. The fort’s round bastions, for example, are typical of Indian forts built by Islamic rulers. The single tall square lookout tower along the southern wall is characteristic of Portuguese military architecture of 1500s.

The fort is located on the bank of the Aganashini River. The mouth of the river is 12 km from the Mirjan village. The fort was built over an area of 10 acres with laterite stone. It has high walls and bastions. The fort has four entrances (one main and three subsidiary entrances) and many wells, which are interlinked and with access channels leading to the circular moat (used as defense measure to protect the fort) that once fully surrounded the fort, and leading to the canal works outside the fort’s limits. At each entrance, there are wide steps to enter the fort. The fort which was mostly in ruins was recently restored by the Archaeological department.

One of the bastions of the fort
The laterite built high walls and the bastions
Some of the excavated items scattered around this tree inside the fort
Inside the fort – gracing cattle
The wonderful view around the fort
The wonderful view around the fort
This part of the fort are still in ruins
One of the many wells inside the fort
Steps towards the well
The view of Aganashini River from the fort
Interior view of the fort
The prayer hall inside the fort
The watch tower and the flag hoisting tower inside the fort
Fort interior view
The round bastion and walls
The walls made in laterite stone
Fort interior view
One of the entrances
A secret path inside the fort
More views
More views

During the year 2000-01, ASI (Archaeological Survey of India) carried out excavations in the precincts of the fort. Antiquarian findings also included a gold coin minted in 1652 with inscriptions that attribute it to the Portuguese Viceroy Conde De Sarzedas during the reign of Joao IV, cannon balls, Chinese porcelain, clay tablets with Islamic inscriptions. Seven dumb-bells, 50 iron bullets, coins and designed earth pots belonging to Sarpmallika dynasty were also found during the excavations at the fort.

How to Reach:
It is about half a km from the National Highway 17 and 11 km from Gokarna, the Hindu pilgrimage center on the west coast of India.

Gulbarga Fort – Where the Bahmani Kingdom thrived…

Gulbarga fort is located not far from the Gulbarga city center in the Gulbarga district of the Indian state of Karnataka. The fort was originally built by Raja Gulchand, a feudatory of the Kakatiyas of Warangal. The fort was strengthened with heavy fortification by Alauddin Hasan Bahman Shah, the ruler of the Bahmani dynasty. Gulbarga was the capital of the Bahmani Kingdom from 1347 to 1424 AD with its headquarters at Gulbarga fort. In the year 1434 AD the capital was transferred to Bidar. It is said that with the establishment of the Bahmani Kingdom, the Muslim rule took firm roots in the Deccan. The Bahmani Sultans facilitated the immigrants from Iraq, Iran and Central Asia which changed the socio-cultural and religious life in the Deccan but was well amalgamated with Hindu traditions.

The fort was surrounded by a 30 feet wide moat and double fortification. A citadel was made in the center of the fort. This monumental structure was surrounded by 15 ramparts from inside with 26 cannons, some which are 8 meters long and is still well preserved.

The Jami Masjid is the most impressive structure inside the fort. It was built by Muhammad Shah I to commemorate Gulbarga as the capital of the Bahmini Sultanate. The Masjid was designed in line with the Great Mosque of Cordoba in Spain by a Moorish architect. It has a dimension of 216 x 176 feet. The mosque has no open courtyard. The outer passageways surround the prayer hall on three sides and have low open arcades with arches. They form a rectangular layout with ten bays each on the north and the south and seven bays on the east. It is an excellent example of Bahmani architectural style a combination of Persian, Moorish and Indian styles.

The Gulbarga Fort
The Gulbarga Fort
The Main Entrance of the Fort
The Main Entrance of the Fort
Gulbarga Fort - the moat and the bastions
Gulbarga Fort – the moat and the bastions
The fortification
The fortification
The fortification
The fortification
The fortification
The fortification
Inside the fort
Inside the fort
Inside the fort
Inside the fort
One of the structures inside the fort
One of the structures inside the fort
The remaining part of the citadel inside the fort
The remaining part of the citadel inside the fort
The remaining part of the citadel inside the fort
The remaining part of the citadel inside the fort
The remaining part of the citadel inside the fort
The remaining part of the citadel inside the fort
One of the canons positioned on top of the bastion
One of the canons positioned on top of the bastion
One of the canons positioned on top of the bastion
One of the canons positioned on top of the bastion
One of the canons positioned on top of the bastion
One of the canons positioned on top of the bastion
At the top of one of the bastions
At the top of one of the bastions
One of the canon balls scattered around the fort
One of the canon balls scattered around the fort
The Jami Masjid inside the fort
The Jami Masjid inside the fort
The Jami Masjid inside the fort
The Jami Masjid inside the fort
The Jami Masjid - details
The Jami Masjid – details
The Jami Masjid - details
The Jami Masjid – details
Around the fort
Around the fort
Around the fort
Around the fort
Around the fort
Around the fort
Around the fort
Around the fort

Shravanabelagola and the Gomateshvara Statue

Shravanabelagola is a city located near Channarayaptna of Hassan District in the Indian state of Karnataka. The Gomateshvara statue at Shravanabelagola is one of the most important tirthas (pilgrimage destinations) in Jainism. The town is a prominent centre for Jaina art, architecture, religion and culture for over 2,300 years. It is a town of ponds and temples. The name of this holy center is derived from the pond called ‘biligola’ (white pond) between two hills. It is believed that Chandragupta Maurya, the founder of the Maurya Dynasty and the Maurya Empire died here in 298 BC after he became a Jain monk and assumed an ascetic life style.

Shravanabelagola has two hills, Chandragiri and Vindhyagiri. The 58 feet tall monolithic statue of Gomateshvara (it is also referred as “Bahubali” by the Jains) is located on the Vindyagiri Hill. It is considered to be the world’s largest monolithic stone statue. The statue is carved beautifully from a single block of rock with accurate sense of proportion and expression. Gomata has curly really nice hair in ringlets on the head and long, large ears. His eyes are open as if viewing the world with detachment. The facial features are perfectly chiseled with a faint touch of smile at the corner of his lips and embody calm vitality. There is an anthill in the background which signifies his incessant penance and from where emerges a snake and creepers which twine around both his legs and his arms culminating as cluster of flowers and berries at the upper portion of the arms. The posture of meditation, of the digambara (nude) statue is known as ‘Kayotsarga’, symbolizing renunciation, self-control and subjugation of ego as the first step towards salvation. It represents the complete victory over earthly desires and needs that hamper spirtual ascent towards divinity.

The statue at Shravanabelagola was voted by the readers of “Times of India” a leading daily, as the first of the Seven Wonders of India by scoring 49% votes.

The base of the statue has an inscription in Prakrit, dating to 981 AD. The inscription praises the king who funded the effort and his general, Chavundaraya who erected the statue for his mother. Every twelve years, thousands of devotees congregate here to perform the Mahamastakabhisheka, a spectacular ceremony in which the statue is anointed with water, turmeric, rice flour, sugar cane juice, sandalwood paste, saffron, and gold and silver flowers.

The Vindhyagiri hill is about 470 feet above the ground and is of solid rock. It must be climbed barefoot. Tourists can use the main steps from the town consisting of dual flights of about 660 steps to the top which was cut out in the rock. You may see old people climb these steps however they are steep and it can be a hard climb. In summer the rock can get hot, so you may carry a pair of socks to be worn while climbing the steps. Old people who cannot climb can avail palanquin services. The palanquin bearers carry them on chair.

The 58 feet tall monolithic statue of Gommateshvara
The 58 feet tall monolithic statue of Gomateshvara
The steep flight of steps towards the Vindhyagiri hill
The steep flight of steps towards the Vindhyagiri hill
The view of the 'White Pond" from top of the Vindyagiri hill and in the backdrops you can see the Chandragiri hill
The view of the ‘White Pond” from top of the Vindyagiri hill and in the backdrops you can see the Chandragiri hill
At the top of Vindyagiri hill
At the top of Vindyagiri hill
At the top of Vindyagiri hill
At the top of Vindyagiri hill
At the top of Vindyagiri hill
At the top of Vindyagiri hill
At the top of Vindyagiri hill
At the top of Vindyagiri hill
At the top of Vindyagiri hill
At the top of Vindyagiri hill
The Gomateshwars statue at the top of the Vindyagiri hill
The Gomateshvara statue at the top of the Vindyagiri hill
The Gomateshwars statue at the top of the Vindyagiri hill
The Gomateshvara statue at the top of the Vindyagiri hill
Pilgrims offering prayers at the feet of the satue
Pilgrims offering prayers at the feet of the satue
Another view of the statue
Another view of the statue
Amazing view from top of the Vindyagiri hill
Amazing view from top of the Vindyagiri hill
Amazing view from top of the Vindyagiri hill
Amazing view from top of the Vindyagiri hill
Amazing view from top of the Vindyagiri hill
Amazing view from top of the Vindyagiri hill
Amazing view from top of the Vindyagiri hill
Amazing view from top of the Vindyagiri hill

Chandragiri hill is a small hill located just opposite to the Vindhyagiri hill. It is believed that Chandragupta Maurya, the founder of the Maurya dynasty, breathed his last in this hill. Steps have been cut out in this hill and the ascent is similar to that of Vindhyagiri. It is steep and hard to climb. The hill has memorials to numerous monks and shravakas who have meditated here. Chandragiri also has the tomb of Chandragupta Maurya. There are also several monuments of interest scattered around this hill.

The entrance to the Chandragiri hill
The entrance to the Chandragiri hill
Steps leading to the summit of Chandragiri hill
Steps leading to the summit of Chandragiri hill
The view of the pond from Chandragiri hill
The view of the pond from Chandragiri hill
Various shrines at the top of Chandragiri hill
Various shrines at the top of Chandragiri hill
Various shrines at the top of Chandragiri hill
Various shrines at the top of Chandragiri hill
Bharatha statue at Chandragiri hill
Bharatha statue at Chandragiri hill
Various shrines at the top of Chandragiri hill
Various shrines at the top of Chandragiri hill
Various shrines at the top of Chandragiri hill
Various shrines at the top of Chandragiri hill
Various shrines at the top of Chandragiri hill
Various shrines at the top of Chandragiri hill
Various shrines at the top of Chandragiri hill
Various shrines at the top of Chandragiri hill
Various shrines at the top of Chandragiri hill
Various shrines at the top of Chandragiri hill
Various shrines at the top of Chandragiri hill
Various shrines at the top of Chandragiri hill
One of the inscriptions on the rock are protected by glass
One of the inscriptions on the rock are protected by glass
Various shrines at the top of Chandragiri hill
Various shrines at the top of Chandragiri hill
Various shrines at the top of Chandragiri hill
Various shrines at the top of Chandragiri hill
Various shrines at the top of Chandragiri hill
Various shrines at the top of Chandragiri hill
View of Vindyagiri hill from Chandragiri
View of Vindyagiri hill from Chandragiri
Amazing views of the surrounding areas from Chandragiri hill
Amazing views of the surrounding areas from Chandragiri hill
Amazing views of the surrounding areas from Chandragiri hill
Amazing views of the surrounding areas from Chandragiri hill
Amazing views of the surrounding areas from Chandragiri hill
Amazing views of the surrounding areas from Chandragiri hill

Sri Vidyashankara Temple at Sringeri

Sringeri is the site of the first matha (Sringeri Sharada Peetha) established by Adi Shankara in the 8th Century AD located on the banks of river Tunga. A ‘matha’ is a Sanskrit word means “cloister, institute or college” and it also refers to a monastery in Hinduism. Adi Shankara was the Indian philosopher and theologian who consolidated the doctrine of Advaita Vedanta and is credited with unifying and establishing the main currents of thought in Hinduism.

According to legend, Adi Shankaracharya is said to have selected the site as the place to stay and teach his disciples, because when he was walking by the Tunga river, he saw a cobra with a raised hood, providing shelter from the hot sun, to a frog about to spawn. Impressed with the place where natural enemies had gone beyond their instincts, he stayed here for twelve years.

Sringeri is home to the historic temples of Sri Sharadamba Temple and Sri Vidyashankara Temple. The Sharadamba temple is dedicated to the Goddess of learning and wisdom. The temple structure made in wood was damaged by a fire in the early 20th century and was rebuilt in the traditional south Indian Chettinadu style of temple architecture.

The Vidyashankara temple was built in commemoration of the pontiff Vidyashankara, around 1357-58 AD by Harihara and Bukka, the brothers who founded the Vijayanagara Empire. The temple, has a number of stone sculptures from Hindu mythology. Inscriptions in the temple record contributions made by several Vijayanagara emperors but the temple was probably built on an earlier Hoysala site as it combines Hoysala and Vijaynagara architectural features. The architecture also exhibits the astronomical expertise of medieval south Indian temple builders. The main temple hall features 12 pillars designated for the 12 signs of the Zodiac. Windows and doors along the temple walls are arranged such that the equinoxes sunrise rays reach the deity. The temple was built in the year 1338 AD. It is a unique monument built entirely of stone combining both Hoysala and Dravidian architectural styles. The structure, stand on a high plinth and commands a magnificent view from the hills and their slopes all around.

The twelve pillars in the Vidyashankar temple are popularly known as Rashistambhas (zodiacal Pillars). Symbols of the twelve divisions of the zodiac are engraved on these pillars. It is said that the design of the pillars involved certain astronomical concepts like the first rays of the rising sun fall on specific pillars with the zodiacal symbol on the pillar corresponding to the position of the sun.

How to Reach & Where to stay
KSRTC Buses operates from Bangalore. It is 95 km from Shimoga which is connected to Bangalore through bus and rail routes. Sringeri can also be reached from Mangalore which is at a distance of 105 km by road. From Udupi it is at a distance of 80 km via Hebri and Agumbe.

The town has guest houses run by the temple administration of which the details can be obtained from the Sringeri Mutt web site. There are many private lodges available as well.

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Inside the temple complex - on the left side is the Sri Sharadamba Temple
Inside the temple complex – on the left side is the Sri Sharadamba Temple
Sri Vidyashankara Temple
Sri Vidyashankara Temple
Sri Vidyashankara Temple - Details
Sri Vidyashankara Temple – Details
Sri Vidyashankara Temple - Details
Sri Vidyashankara Temple – Details
Sri Vidyashankara Temple - Details
Sri Vidyashankara Temple – Details
Sri Vidyashankara Temple - Details
Sri Vidyashankara Temple – Details
Sri Vidyashankara Temple - Details
Sri Vidyashankara Temple – Details
Sri Vidyashankara Temple - Details
Sri Vidyashankara Temple – Details
Sri Vidyashankara Temple and the entrance tower in the back ground
Sri Vidyashankara Temple and the entrance tower in the back ground
View of the Tunga River from the temple complex
View of the Tunga River from the temple complex
Steps towards the river
Steps towards the river
The bridge over the Tunga River
The bridge over the Tunga River
View of the temple complex from the river
View of the temple complex from the river
The Yaga Mandapa in the complex
The Yaga Mandapa in the complex
View of the temple, entrance tower and the Yaga mandapa
View of the temple, entrance tower and the Yaga mandapa

Gallery – Malpe Fishing Harbour

Malpe is a natural port about six kilometers to the west of Udupi town in Karnataka. It is an important port and fishing harbour on the Karnataka coast. It is situated on the mouth of Malpe River. Malpe is a hub of Mogaveera population. Mogaveera were originally a fishing community, reside mainly in Dakshina Kannada. Blessed with scenic views the harobour is the hub of busy fishing and commercial activities. There are frequent local buses available from Udupi bus stand to Malpe.

Mahakuta Group of Temples – Another Chalukyan Legacy

Mahakuta group of temples are located at Mahakuta village, 15 kilometers from Badami in the Bagalkot district of Karnataka. The temples are dated to the 6th and 7th Century AD and where constructed by the early kings of the Chalukya dynasty of Badami. The temples share the common Chalukya style followed at Aihole temples. The most important temple is Mahakuteshwara temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. It was built in the Dravidian style. It has a Shiv Linga in the shrine topped by a curvilinear tower. There are many other temples in the complex. There is natural spring fed tank inside the temple complex known as Vishnu Pushkarini. This is one of the major attractions in the temple complex and you can see many people taking a holy bath in this tank.

The Mallikarjuna Temple on the other side of the tank is very similar to that of the Mahakuteshwar temple but small in size. There are around two dozen small temples in the temple complex.

Mahakuta Temple Complex - Mahakuteshwar Temple
Mahakuta Temple Complex – Mahakuteshwar Temple
Mahakuta Temple Complex - Various small shrines inside the temple complex
Mahakuta Temple Complex – Various small shrines inside the temple complex
Mahakuta Temple Complex - Carvings
Mahakuta Temple Complex – Carvings
The small Nandi shrine
The small Nandi shrine
One of the carvings on the temple walls
One of the carvings on the temple walls
Inside the temple complex
Inside the temple complex
Various Sculptures
Various Sculptures
Various Sculptures inside the complex
Various Sculptures inside the complex
Various Sculptures inside the complex
Various Sculptures inside the complex
Another view of the Temple complex - with scattered ruins
Another view of the Temple complex – with scattered ruins
The Vishnu Pushkarini inside the temple complex
The Vishnu Pushkarini inside the temple complex
The small shrine inside the tank with Shiv Linga
The small shrine inside the tank with Shiv Linga
Various temples inside the complex
Various temples inside the complex
One of the small shrines inside the complex
One of the small shrines inside the complex
Inside the temple complex
Inside the temple complex
Nandi inside the shrine
Nandi inside the shrine
Another view from the temple complex
Another view from the temple complex

How to Rach:
Mahakuta is well connected by road to Badami. There are local transport available from Badami. There are regular Autos & Tum Tum plying between Badami and Mahakuta.