The signiﬁcance of Bidar, in Karnataka, as a holy town, dates back to Guru Nanak Devji’s visit in the sixteenth century, when he was on his second world tour to enlighten people and was passing through Bidar village. On knowing about his arrival locals gathered around him to seek relief from scarcity of water. Legend has it that moved by their plight Guru Nanak Devji removed a rock with his toe and a steam of pure drinking water gushed out. A small Amrit– Kund constructed in white marble has an uninterrupted ﬂow of pure and sweet drinking water in the precincts of the Nanak Jhira Bidar Gurudwara and stands as a reminder of the famed visit of Guru Nanak Devji and the succour he provided to the locals.
In November of 2016, along with some friends from Hyderabad, we headed towards Nanak Jhira Bidar Gurudwara by car through Sadashivpet and Jaheerabad. The 130 km drive took us approximately four hours to reach the Nanak Jhira Bidar Gurudwara. The day was hot and we arrived at the Gurudwara Sarai within the Gurudwara campus a little afternoon.
The Sarai has about 300 rooms and is unbelievably inexpensive while the rooms were clean and well maintained, much to our taste. A large rectangular pond at the centre of the campus had water ﬂowing in it from the Amrit-Kund. Several devouts were spotted taking a dip in it. We also spotted a few well-armed Nihangs (the fearless warriors among the Sikhs they wear blue clothes and tie a turban that is a foot high and is known as dumala) and got ourselves photographed with them. After paying our respects in the Gurudwara, we headed for the langar hall (community free kitchen), for lunch. The voluntary service, of serving the food and washing the utensils, rendered by the Sikh community, the locals, and the pilgrims was highly inspiring.
Late in the afternoon, we set out to visit the Bidar fort. The fort was built in the fourteenth century by the Bahamani kings. It has seven gates and it houses several monuments, such as the Tarkash Mahal and the Solah Khambh mosque.
The next morning we woke to the holy chants from the Gurudwara that commenced much before the break of dawn. After our morning chores, we had a soul purifying experience as we spent some peaceful moments in the Gurudwara listening to the hymns from the Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book of the Sikhs. The walls of the Gurudwara were decorated with framed pictures of those whose hymns ﬁnd a place in the Guru Granth Sahib. This sent me in deep reﬂection of the greatness of the noble saint who absorbed knowledge from a chamar (shoesmith), the lowest in the society, to the Brahmin, the highest, without distinguishing between their social statuses, be it Bhagat Ravidas (chamar), Bhagat Kabir (julaha or weaver), Bhagat Sadhana (butcher) or even Bhagat Ramanand (Brahmin).
NANAK JHIRA BIDAR GURUDWARA
Breakfast at one of the restaurants just outside the entrance of the Gurudwara campus was a gastronomic delight. Our appetite was whetted by the appetising aroma wafting from the kitchen. The restaurant owner made sure we were fed well. Various varieties of parathas, with generous dollops of butter on them, were laid out on the table and we savoured every morsel of them, unwilling to give up on the adventure but for the limited capacity of our bellies.
On our way back to Hyderabad we made certain to enter the lanes of the marketplace to pick up a memento or two of Bidriware. With great curiosity, we witnessed the Bidri artisans working away with outstanding mastery. Bidriware derives its name from
Bidar. This art of intricate engraving on an alloy of copper and zinc and inlaying of silver wire is exclusive to Bidar. The artisans confessed that ﬁnd it difﬁcult to sustain a livelihood and hence the art is slowly dying art as none of their descendants are keen on making a career in it.
The one place of pilgrimage I missed out on was the Narasimha Jhira Cave Temple dedicated to Lord Narasimha. One must wade through waist-deep water through a cave to take the blessings of the deity. I am hoping a call from Lord Narasimha would set me on the path to Bidar again, soon.