Oct 20, 2018

Chaukandi - Dargah of Hadrat Khalimullahullah

September 3, 2018
We started our day with a short visit to Narasimha Jhira, Pushpa was ready to wade through water in the tunnel but the temple was crowded, at least 30 people in the queue. We took pictures and made a short video from the outside and left. We drove on Bidar city ring-road and turned right towards Ashtoor village. A kilometer before Bahamani tombs of Ashtur, on the left hand side is Dargah of Hadrat Khalimullahullah commonly known as Chaukandi which means four storeys. Chaukandi is a octagonal shaped white colored structure, its design is truly unique. Its a protected monument.

Situated away from settlement this place is peaceful. In fact local people come here to spend time peacefully. Neem and Tamarind trees add to the ambiance.

This white colored building is a screen to the main structure. Its a belief that beautiful structures should have a screen to protect it from evil eyes ~ ketta drishti. Bijapur's Gol Gumbaz also has a screen like this locally known as Naqquar Khana. The brown colored two-storey building is a mosque. Besides this is another mosque inside.

There's Chaukandi as seen through the inner arch of the screen. Its a magnificent structure with a classy color scheme. Originally it was white octagonal structure, the brown colored structure with dome was added later. As we entered the inner portion, a saw a man.. I felt it was the same man I'd met in Jan-2011.. Kalil Shah Bahamani who claimed to be a descendant of Bahamani dynasty. He offers to show us around.

The white exterior is the outer wall, approximately 10' thick, it encloses another octagonal structure which in turn houses the tomb. On the exterior its designed to look like a two-storey building but in real its a four-storey building.

Looking back towards the gateway we just passed through. On either sides of the passage are raised platforms, large enough to accommodate 60 to 70 people.

This is another mosque, simple elegant structure.

The side view of Chaukandi. The octagon will fit into a circle 88' diameter. Its opposite parallel sides are 80' apart and its height is approximately is 80'. This is said to be built during the first half of XV century CE.

As I was photographing the structure, Pushpa spotted a couple of owls in a niche high above the ground. That was a wonderful catch. Grey feathered owls sitting cozily up there, possibly baby owls inside. She remarked they look like us two :)

Our guide pointed out to Arabic / Persian texts above door frames, he said they were of great importance. There are many such slabs both outside and inside walls here. Beautiful sculptures they are. Notice the floral on the lower portion. The three lotus' design is similar to the ones found in Hindu temples, like the ones seen at Chalukyan temples.

Sky view from the gap between inner and outer structures. Each of these arches are 30' high.

On the floor level. This is the front side of the building, on the left side is the main entrance and on the right side is the main door to the tomb. The tombs seen here are of Hadrat Khalimullahullah's family members.

This is the tomb of Hadrat Khalimullahullah. This is a shrine for local people who believe in powers of this Dargah. Visitors offer oil and agarbathi. A single oil lamp burns throughout the day. Smoke rising up from the lit up agarbathi. Visitors are patted with a bunch of peacock feathers, kind of blessings. The doors seen here are also ancient, they have the brass knobs which seems original.

We go back outside and around the building. A close look at the black granite outlines. At the base of this sculpted black column is a brown niche which was originally filled up. Vandals have pried out the filling.

Spirals rising up above.. like coil springs.

This is the rear face. Notice the spiral along the arch outline. Truly a result of superb designing, planning and execution.
This is the western face. Besides the arches and geometric designs this face has floral designs as well. Notice the mural at the arch crest.

Opposite the western face is this small structure, not sure if its incomplete or as designed. The arches are quite low, about 3' high. Two arches are open while the rest were closed with mesh screen. Inside there are several tombs. Though small, its has very detailed artwork.

A closer look at the art. Amazing isn't it.

The Chaukandi has its own well too. The open well has a flight of steps descending into it. Such wells are commonly found at temples and known as Kalyani. This raises a question mark if a Hindu shrine exists close by or if it existed once.

Chaukandi as seen from the open-well. The place has a great ambiance, you can sit here for hours, enjoy the silence and fresh air.

About 200 meters from Chaukandi is another open-well named as Pari Bowli meaning Faiies' Well. You normally see circular or square shaped shafts but Pari Bowli is octagonal. The water is fresh, can be consumed as is.. of course its upto one's confidence. I had a mouthful :)

Oct 13, 2018

Pari Bowli - Fairies Well, Ashtoor, Bidar

As I was scanning the area around Bahamani tombs of Ashtoor, I happened to discover a spot marked as "Pari Bowli" which was recognizable as a water-body. It was situated west of Dargah of Hadrat Khalimullahullah commonly called as Chaukandi. I was curious about the spot but there wasn't any description of the place. I added to the list of places to see during our trip.

September 3, 2018
We started our tour of Bidar early morning. Originally our plan was to see the fort and then other monuments. However a security guard's rude behavior made me change the itinerary. So went to Narasimha Jhira first. The place had changed so much in 8 years, too much concrete. I showed Pushpa the cave entrance, she took pictures and shot a video clip. Then we headed towards Ashtoor and first stopped at Chaukandi. We spent about 45 minutes at the white octagonal structure with Kalil Shah who claims to be a descendant of Bahamani dynasty. From Chaukandi, Pari Bowli is about a kilometer, we could've walked but decided to take the car for a tiny off-road drive.

So that's the well local people lovingly call Pari Bowli. On the top-right corner of this picture is a glimpse of Chaukandi. The common thing between these two is their octagonal shape.

That's Chaukandi, as seen from the mound next to Pari Bowli.

The well reminded me of Taj Bowli at Bijapur which is much larger. Water looks clean, its green because of its depth. Whoever made this well also made a room on its eastern side.

The room can be accessed from a narrow passage on the side, along the well's perimeter. A shrub grown out from the wall is home to a group of weaver birds, about a dozen nests here. Pushpa and Kalil stand in the shelter.

Two partially done nests. The owner sits watchfully on its nest. I watched it for a minute or two to take pictures then left it alone to carry on  with its work. 

This is the shelter's ceiling, stones are arranged to form a star. The circular stone is the center pin - which is the key to the arrangement. I don't quite remember seeing another star like this anywhere else.

The serene spot. We sat under the Neem tree and had breakfast- biscuits and water. Kalil had filled a bottle from this well, water was as clear as filtered water, it took a mouthful, it was mildly sweet. Kalil said that locals believe this water has medicinal properties, people with health issued consume it or bathe with this water. Coming to its name, its a belief that fairies live in these waters and they come out only during nights.

Isn't it amazing that Nature provides us everything we need, ready to consume. We humans instead of enjoying life in a simple way, complicate everything, creating trouble for fellow creatures. Anyway, lets enjoy the peaceful ambiance for now.

On the left is a platform where one can stand and draw water from the well. This spot is slightly higher than Chaukandi, I'm guessing that water was supplied from this well. It seems like a pipeline existed, probably still there buried in the ground.

Water as seen from the drawing platform, this platform is exactly above the open hall seen earlier. I'm guessing this well to be 60 feet deep. We can see one level submerged here, probably there's another level below.

A bare Jaali Mara trunk. Wondering what caused the tree to get that curvy form.

It was happy to have seen this well. Had I come here by dawn, I might have seen few peacocks. In fact we saw one at Chaukandi, a young male. Also, Pushpa spotted a pair of owls resting in a niche high up in the wall. They seems like husband-wife.

From here we drove down to Ashtoor to the beautiful see Bahamani tombs.