Saturday, December 31, 2011

We neeDSC03143d to travel outside the city of Bidar for about 2 miles to the village of Ashtur where the tombs of the later Bahmani Sultans are present. We need to pass through the Dulhan Darwaza outside the city. There are eight tombs of the kings of the Bahmani dynasty in this area, and their comparative dimensions and style of architecture demonstrate in the clearest manner the gradual deterioration of the political power of the dynasty.  There is a low wall surrounding the tombs to prevent encroachments from locals which is a good sign. There is a good motor-able road which is increasing tourism activity in this area. Keeping in line with the chronology, the earliest tomb is the one of Sultan Ahmed Shah Wali, who instated Bidar as the capital city. We will talk about each of them.

Ahmed Shah Wali Bahmani: Ahmed Shah Bahmani was a religiously inclined ruler, and accordingly fond DSC03149the company of saintly personages. He was devoted to Khwaja Bande Nawaz of Gulbarga and later to the order of Shah Nimat-Ullah of Kirman whom he invited the founder to Bidar. It is said, that this saint gave the title “Wali” to Ahmed Shah. The title Wali was used by order of the king in the religious address from the pulpit (khutba). According to his religious inclination, texts are engraved on the inner walls of his tomb. He also respected the doctrine of lingayats, a religious order of the Deccan. The devotion of the latter sect to Ahmed Shah continues to this day, and at the time of the Urs (annual celebrations of the death of a Muslim Saint) their chief priest DSC03147(Jangam) comes from Gulbarga to Bidar to perform ceremonies according to lingayat rituals.

The architecture of the tomb, as indicated by its external features, shows strength combined with majesty, although except for the stucco work done in the arches, there is no decoration on the walls of the building. The walls are most massively built, their thickness being 12 feet. The dome of the building is three-fourths of an orb in shape with an octagonal base at the roof level, measuring 214 feet in girth, each side of the octagon being 26 feet. At its springing point, it has a circumference of 196 feet and its height including its finial is 107 feet measured from ground level.

DSC03173The inner plan of the tomb comprises of a square hall 52 feet on each side. There is a lofty arch in the middle of each of the four sides of the hall. The plan, accounting to these features looks pleasing to the eye, but the architect has further ornamented it by building squinches at the four corners of the hall, thus the building becoming octagonal at the top of the squinches. Above this, the plan is further changed making it 24 sided owing to the design below the circular base of the dome. The interior, although dark is artistically relieved by splashes of the most brilliant color DSC03159combinations used to design the insides. For instance, in order to show with effect the brilliance of the gold creeper, a extremely dark background was used as you see in the above picture.. The practice of giving a while outline to the drawing which a view ofDSC03162 suggesting an idea of depth to the subject could have been inspired by the ones in Ajanta painted during the 5th and 6th Centuries. There are textual forms of sayings by famous saints inscribed on many tablets inside this tomb. There are some more inscriptions on the life and times of Ahmed Shah Wali. Another important feature of this painting is that one of them contains the name of the painter with a reference to his native place. The most elegant of all the paintings is the octagonal shapes of gold on the walls and inner side the dome.

The various features of this tomb, such as its vast dimensions, solid DSC03160architecture, choice color schemes, and subtle decorative patterns, show the lofty ideals of the builder on the one hand and his exquisite taste and religious spirit on the other. This last mentioned quality is amply demonstrated by the holy texts inscribed on the building, as also by the ritual which is still observed by the votaries of the tomb, who although professing different faiths and belonging to different nationalities, all join together in paying their homage to the memory of the saintly king.

We will talk about the other tombs of the vicinity in the next post.


Team G Square said...

Wow ,nice to know about this place. I'm yet to visit Bidar .

sm said...

beautiful shots
nice info

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