Sunday, May 13, 2012

As I mentioned in the previous post, Gagan Mahal was a name commonly given. In fact, there are buildings with the same name in Anegondi (Hampi), Bijapur, Mudgal as well. Aptly named the Heavenly Palace, it was originally built by the Bahmanis and later altered by the Baridi rulers, notably the northern wing and the upper apartments of the southern wing. This monument is also out of reach to visitors and the information given is provided by eye witnesses when it was open to public.

DSC03278The palace has two courts, the outer apparently used by the male staff and the guards. Its entrance is behind the Solah Khamb mosque. On the southern side of the court is a series of rooms and halls build in rows one behind the other.  Is is said that one the inside, there are arched entrances to all these rooms which were decorated with stucco and tile work.

There were arcades on either side of the long inner court, the remains of DSC03271which may be seen today. The arcades to the north have been merged to the basement of the Tarkash Mahal which was built at a later date than the Gagan Mahal. The eastern and western parts have openings into the court which is said to have shown a nice proportion. In the ground floor, is an open space in the form of a pavement. There is a doorway through the pavement which leads to a double hall divided into six bays. At the back of this double hall is a narrow pavement with recessed windows opening on the moat which is all around the fort.

As a residential complex, the Gagan Mahal was aptly designed and decorated for a King with the queens harem. There is a terrace going up which commands a good view of the neighboring buildings. This terrace is also currently blocked.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The name Tarkash probably is given because the monument was built for the Turkish wife of the king, but a general conventionality is observed in giving names to the royal buildings. The names Tarkash Mahal and Gagan Mahal are mentioned in records of kingdoms like Bijapur and Golkonda as well. The rulers of the contemporary dynasties vied with one another in the glory of the architectural works and chose to have the same names for their palaces.

DSC03264The Tarkash Mahal at Bidar may have originally built by the Bahmanis but the upper parts are definitely built during the Baridi rule (the decorative emblem of the Baridi Kingdom is to be seen in the upper levels of the building). As on today, there is no access to the inner parts of the building owing to the pitiable conditions of the ruins but I shall talk about how it was earlier. The uppermost apartments are reached by a flight of steps which also lead to the roof of of the Solah Khamb Mosque. The roof of these apartments has fallen down but the walls are more or less intact which give a general idea of the plan of the building. In the middle is a hall with arched openings and was beautifully decorated with tiles and stucco work. The roof of the hall has fallen and originally there was another apartment above it, the remains of which in the shape DSC03265of two arches can still be see as you see in the above picture. They too also decorated with stucco work.

There are smaller rooms on either side of the middle hall which was once decorated with encaustic tiles of which, we can still find some traces. The middle level rooms were earlier occupied by the court of the local officer. There are traces of an old parapet on the second level which suggests that the third level was built at a later time. On the ground level, the rooms were once used as storage for sundry articles and sometimes of ammunition. In fact, rockets were found in the early nineteenth century. This building has numerous halls like these.

DSC03375There is another building to the east of this which is also called the Tarkash Mahal, but it is in a very ruined condition. From the present remains, it can be made out that it had two storeys and that the upper level may have been occupied by the royal ladies. The architecture is clearly of the Baridi dynasty and so it can be assumed that this building is kind of an extension of the other Tarkash Mahal we had seen earlier.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Both these names have been given in comparatively recent times, as this building is situated in the Zanana enclosure and as it has sixteen columns in the middle part of the prayer hall, which was screenDSC03263ed off from the rest of the building when it fell into ruins. Its original name was Masjid-i-Jami, and the Friday Prayers and State functions where held here. It was built in the 1423 AD by the Sultan Mohammed Shah, the son of the first Bahmani ruler Ahmed Shah Wali.  The year is recorded in an inscription that was found when the ASI was clearing the debris. The mosque can definitely be considered the earliest Muslim building in the city of Bidar.

Even though the length of the building is around 310 feet from north to south, it looks flat and DSC03276monotonous owing to its short height. There is a beautiful parapet above the arches but the effect is completely lost when seen from near. The pillars on the outside are square and the internal are round. The row of columns inside divide the prayer hall into 95 bays. Nine middle bays is occupied by a hall which is crowned by a majestic dome.

Access to the inside of the mosque is unavailable with iron doors been fitted at the arches. However, it is said that on the inside is an arrangement of a series of arched windows which are filled DSC03267with tracery. It, like the painted glass windows in cathedrals adds to the interior beauty of the prayer hall. To the western wall, is a pentagonal niche, entered by a hall of fine proportions. The niche points in the direction of the Kaba .The niche, technically called the mihrab, also marks the place of the Imam who conducts the prayers. The roof of the remaining part of the prayer hall comprises a series of smaller domes which are visible at the top but concealed from view by the parapet. The inside of the mosque is dark owing to the other two big buildings in the same vicinity which DSC03275were constructed later. We will talk about these in the further posts. It is said that there is a water reservoir on the roof of the mosque from which water flowed to the cisterns in the ground floor.

The mosque has been repaired very well in recent years as earlier it was mostly rubble with cracks on the ceiling and floor. The building although one of the largest in India, suffers by comparison with its contemporary in Mandu or its predecessor at Gulbarga. The only pleasing feature is the middle hall crowned by the large dome.