Lost in the far northeast of Karnataka, Bidar, 284km northeast of Vijayapura, is a provincial backwater, known for its fighter-pilot training base, gently decaying monuments and the most important Sikh shrine in Karnataka. The town, half of whose 210,000-strong population is Muslim, has a gritty charm, with narrow red-dirt streets ending at arched gates and open vistas across the plains. Littered with tile-fronted tombs, rambling fortifications and old mosques, it merits a visit if you’re travelling between Hyderabad (150km east) and Vijayapura, although you should expect little in the way of Western comforts, and lots of curious approaches from locals. The heart of Bidar is its medieval old town, encircled by crenellated ramparts and eight imposing gateways (darwazas). This predominantly Muslim quarter holds many Bahmani-era mosques, havelis and khanqahs – “monasteries” set up by the local rulers for Muslim cleric-mystics and their disciples.

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