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Ashtur
Royal artistic patronage of the later Bahmanis is best exemplified in the royal and saintly funerary complexes at Ashtur, located a few kilometres east of the Bidar fort. Bahmani rulers and royalty are buried here in a series of mausoleums located in a pleasant grove. In general both the political and artistic environment in Bidar during the later Bahmani rule reflected increased contacts with the Persian and Central Asian world.


Ahmad I
This ruler was responsible for shifting the Bahmani capital from Gulbarga to Bidar. His early 15th century tomb shows him to be a great patron of art and architecture. Its walls have three rows of arched recesses, seven on the top, and four on the middle and lower rows. The crenellated parapet has corner finials. This scheme is repeated on the 16-sided drum at the base of the dome. The inside walls and ceiling of the tomb are decorated with gold, vermilion, and turquoise painted arabesques and calligraphy. The paintings, as well as the style of the architectural elements, pointed arches, for example, are of obvious Persian inspiration.


Alauddin Ahmad II
This tomb belongs to Ahmad I's successor. Persian influence has decreased, for example, arches no longer have the distinctly sharp profile. The facade of this tomb has five arched recesses of unequal height arranged symmetrically. The arches and wall edges have basalt outlines, a regular feature of the later architecture of Bidar. Multicoloured tilework that once covered the walls and the dome, remains only in fragments.


Humayun
Sultan Humayun was the third of the later Bahmanis. The partially collapsed state of his tomb allows us to simultaneously view of the interior and exterior of the tomb. This shows the grave, entrance arches, and the recessed arch on the inside wall to be remarkably aligned. The inside decoration also shows a crenellation that runs along the base of the dome.


Shamsuddin Muhammad
This late 15th century tomb repeats the earlier scheme of triple tiers of arches recesses and bold crenellations both on the parapet and the base of the flattish dome. There is a complete absence of decoration on the walls.


Chaukhandi
Bahmani rulers at Bidar also encouraged religious links with the Middle-East. During Ahmad I's rule a formidable Shia saint, Shaykh Khalilullah arrived at Bidar. His mausoleum is located a short distance west of the Ashtur necropolis. This unusual two-storeyed octagonal building stands at the top of a hill and is approached by a wide flights of stairs. A high crenellated parapet has corner finials. Each face has two tiers of arched recesses with a rectangular opening at the centre.


Chaukhandi: Facade
A closer view of the building shows that the central arched recesses are flanked by panels that include diagonal squares and arches all outlined in masonry bands carved in a variety of patterns. Some of the arched recesses in the lower story have open part-hexagonal enclosures, with elaborate crenellated parapets. A similar enclosure at the rear of the building is closed and has a spherical dome.


Chaukhandi: Tomb
The interior of the mausoleum viewed from a ledge on the roof shows the square tomb chamber inside the octagonal shell. The chamber has a spherical dome and crenellated parapet with corner finials. Triple arched recesses on its facade have elaborate tassels and apex decoration.


Chaukhandi: Gateway
The Chaukhandi complex is entered through an imposing gateway with a pointed arch. Double tiers of arches flank this central arch. A parapet of high trefoil elements is flanked by short turrets. In front of the gatway is a large, paved courtyard.



Photos and Text © Amit Guha