Sunday, October 18, 2015

Why Bidar should be the new 'Cultural' and 'Tourism' Capital of Karnataka


The rich cultural heritage of Bidar and it's history fascinates anyone who visits this place. I did a little research and to my surprise, found that a number of things which are the USPs of this place are never highlighted to attract tourists. Bidar deserves a position on par with any other heritage site in the country. It should be one of the top 10 tourist destinations for anyone who visits India. Time has come to shed the 'Backward' tag associated with the district and project it as the new 'Cultural' and 'Tourism' Capital of Karnataka.
Here are my observations:
1. The Jharni Narasimha temple: This is a rarest of rare places on earth and yet is being treated like any other temple that people visit. I am not saying that it's rare because one has to walk some 100 metres through a cave filled with water. Water, which is about 4 feet in height. It is one of those rare temples in India whose deity is not an idol carved in stone but it's a live Shaligram. A Shaligram is a special type of stone which is 1 in a billion. It has tremendous powers and carries a mini cosmos in itself, if one doesn't know how to handle then it can be disastrous. People who wish to worship a Shaligram has to first completely drench themselves in water to become receptive. There is also a story that Lord Narasimha himself took the form of a Shaligram and resided here in the temple after slaying the demon Jharni. The demon's name is taken before the Lord because he was a great Shivabhakta himself like Ravana. There is a Shivalinga inside the cave, which the demon used to worship. When the whole world knows about Ravana, how many of us really know about Jharni Daitya? And this place was visited by one of the avatars of Vishnu himself according to Hindu mythology. How rare is that? This temple doesn't find the due mention nationwide, that is actually deserves. 
Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudevji highglights the importance of a Shaligram in this Video.  He is an authority on spirituality in the country and has been a part of several international and national conferences on religion, spirituality and many other aspects of human welfare. The administration should take steps to promote this as a major tourist destination within the country. 
2. Papnash Temple: I found that this temple has a rich history. It was one of those rare sites visited by Lord Ram on his way back to Ayodhya from Srilanka. He built a Shiva temple and worshiped here. The temple was later destroyed and a new temple was built in its place. When you visit this place Papnash, you realize that there is not even a single placard telling us about its rich history. Rameshwaram, a place in TN which was visited by Lord Ram has a Jyotirlinga. This Papnash temple accords the same importance as Rameshwaram as even this temple was built by Lord Ram, going by the legend. 
The other rare thing about this temple is that the Shivalingam here is cylindrical in shape, whereas most Shivalingas are ellipsoidal in shape. Isn't it rare to find a Cylindrical Shivalinga? Are we really promoting this spot on the lines that it deserves?
It is said that a nearby pond built by the Lord has magical properties. Anybody who takes a dip in the water is cleansed from all his sins. Is the pond really maintained that way? Is the water regularly cleaned? For most people the pond doesn't even exist. 
3. The Ahmad Shah Wali Bahamani Dargah / The Samadhi of Allama Prabhu: Another fascinating thing about Bidar is the grave of Ahmad Shah Wali Bahamani, which is worshipped by both Hindus and Muslims alike. When I began looking for the Samadhi of the great Veershaiva Warrior, Shri. Allama Prabhu, everyone in the village of Ashtur pointed at the Dargah of Ahmad Shah Wali Bahamani. I was shocked to hear the story that everybody here considers the two men to be the same. If that is the case then this is a fantastic example of HIndu - Muslim brotherhood. A symbol of secularism which deserves to be highlighted to the world. Allama Prabhu was no ordinary person. It is said that, he made his body so gentle with the power of yoga that a sword would easily swish through his body without inflicting any wounds on him. He was one of those rare personalities who should be a model for our younger generations. Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudevji explains the greatness of Allama Prabhu in this article.
When I calculated his age, he had easily lived for a duration of 350 years, which is quite normal for Yogis of his calibre. The place is simply not maintained the way it should be. This surely deserves to be one of the highlights for tourists visiting Bidar. Anybody who sits inside the Dargah and meditates, experiences something which is beyond words. Try it once in your lifetime!
4. The Samadhi of Manikprabhu Maharaj: There is a Samadhi of Manik Prabhu Maharaj in  Maniknagar, Humnabad. Manik Prabhu Maharaj was a great yogi and was a contemporary of Sri Shirdi Sai Baba. Both had regular interactions. He is known as a Rajyogi and is highly revered.  You will find only a handful of Rajyogi's in India's rich history. A lot needs to be done to accord this place the position it deserves nationally. This destination has a potential to be built on the lines of Shirdi, only strong will power is required.
5. Basavakalyan: This place apart from being developed as a religious destination, also has the potential to attract writers from across the world. It is said that 600 people from different strata of the society turned Vachanakars (writers) and brought about a revolution with their writings. Sounds Amazing! 600 people turning to writing is no mean feat. Nowhere in the world has this happened before. This place showcases the real power of the ink. It should be promoted as a holy land for all the writers in the world.
6. The Bidriware: This is unique to Bidar and owes its origin to the Persian craftsmen under the Bahamani's rule. This rare metal alloy is made possible only because of the iron rich soil, hidden for centuries from sunlight and rain, within the premises of the fort. While researching for my book, the Bidriware artists were hesitant to reveal the actual place from where they extracted the soil. If the district administration arranges a study tour for anyone who visits the place and demonstrates live the preparation of Bidriware metalcrafts, it would boost the tourism immensely. 
Since efforts are made to promote 'Guru Nanak Jhira Sahib' and the 'Bahamani Fort', through wikipedia and tourism websites, I've not mentioned them in the petition. When one visits the website of Karnataka tourism, the information about Jharni Narsimha is incorrect. A lot of changes need to be made in the tourism website to present a proper picture of Bidar.

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