A team of conservation experts have discovered a picnic spot of Barid Shahi kings from the 16th century on the outskirts of Bidar.
‘Bagh-e-Hamam’ (garden bath) as residents of Aliabad villagers call it, comprises some buildings, a bath, and a small pond, where the waters from an underground stream are emptied. A team of officials, including consultants from the Indian Heritage Cities Network Foundation, who were tracing the ‘Karez’ system of subaltern water canals in Naubad, discovered the garden a few days ago. The garden is now part of the Aliabad forest area, and is hidden among tall trees. The garden at the foot of a cliff does not have an approach road, and one has to climb a mound to spot it.
“This was a picnic spot developed by Ali Barid, the first Sultan of the Barid Shahi dynasty,” said B.R. Konda, historian. The king used to visit the place along with his personal staff and relax for some days.
“That is why the village is named after the king, he said. Such structures are as important as the Bidar fort and need to be conserved, he said.
‘The spring of Aliabad’ that culminates at the Bagh-e-Hamam has been described in the book Bidar: Its History and Monuments by Ghulam Yazdani, the former head of archaeology in the Nizam government of Hyderabad. The spring is fed by a karez from Naubad, which runs underground through the cliff.
While the Bagh-e-Hamam was built in the 16th century by Barid Shahi kings, Karez system was built by the Behmani kings in the 15th century. Underground canals, built to connect underground water streams, were meant to provide drinking water to civilian settlements and the garrison inside the Bidar fort. This was necessary in a city where the soil was rocky and drilling wells was difficult.
Mr. Yazdani said the Karez system was the first step to developing a village as the kings thought it necessary to put in place a drinking water supply system before expanding its reach.
“The Muslim kings of Bidar, under the expert advice of Persian engineers, followed the karez system, and laid out subterranean canals in the heart of the rock by widening the natural rift,” according to the book. For air and light, engineers constructed square manholes at suitable points.
“This is the real treasure of Bidar,” said Govindan Kutty, who heads the team of Indian Heritage Cities Network Foundation consultants.
“The Naubad Karez has 21 such manholes. We are tracing them using global positioning system and other technological tools. We will also suggest to the government, methods of conserving these structures,” Mr. Yazdani said.