Bidar is remote, hovering in the north eastern corner of Karnataka, but closer to Hyderabad than it's own state's big cities. When I say close, I mean a hot three hour drive. I think we must have passed through a time warp on our way there because this city, despite being full of monuments and character, hadn't aquired the tourist savvy touts, auto wallahs or hysterical children i tend to associate with towns like Hampi and Badami. In fact there was an ambiguous comment in the Footprint guide suggesting Bidar had problems with being 'backwards.' (I don't know what that implies, but the people we met in Bidar were gentle and sweet, the atmosphere pleasant.) What we did find there was a town like no other. There was the great red walled fort, with its various grand gateways and ruins contained within, then the old town, in which some of the little houses and shops looked to be set in 15th century ruins. Whole streets had the odd appearance of having been smashed open with a bulldozer. It was like, the interiors of houses having been exposed to the street this way, families had retreated into the second layer of the
building, leaving a weird, ruinous feel to the roads. Doors were painted pastel colours in a way that looked almost Mexican. There was a Lord-of-the-Rings-esque watchtower in the centre of this old town, and to its north stood the Kwaja Mahmud Gawan Madrasa - a great living ruin, where locals were gathering for afternoon prayers. This old town was also enclosed within a wall, like the fort, and outside of this wall was the remainder of 'modern', dusty Bidar, clinging to the south and west, with the usual clammer of traffic and roadside fruit markets. A few kilometres out of town, at Ashtur, the road suddenly weaves through impressive, ruinous stone tombs. These are of the Bahmani rulers who built Bidar Fort. We walked amongst the tombs and almost had a run in with some feisty water buffalo who seriously considered charging us (see photo; these guys were mean looking. Check out the funky firebrand tail on the adult male!) Bidar was a real highlight of our journey so far. You could just walk around for hours if the sun wasn't so fierce. That places as evocative as this exist is exciting. The landscapes of Bidar are fantastical. It's my
kind of place.
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