Bidar is quite the melting pot of cultures and religions – given how heritage sites dating back to the Bahmani and Mughal dynasties co-exist alongside sites of religious significance to the Sikh, Hindu and the Islamic communities. It’s often called the City of Whispering Monuments though those whispers might occasionally be drowned out by the sound of screeching fighter jets flying overhead. Bidar is, after all, home to one of India’s largest air force stations. We first organized a heritage run in Bidar in the November of 2014 and received plenty of positive feedback and support from participants, volunteers and the local administration alike so returning to Bidar this year had always been on the cards. Read the Bidar Run Report below to know what went on this time!
We made a visit to Bidar right after our run in Udaipur to meet with our local partners, to conduct a route recce and to finalize our run date. We also decided upon a new 21K route so runners who participated in 2014, would get to traverse a different set of heritage sites along their run and see the historic Bidar Fort from a brand new perspective. (more on this later)
Having frozen on a date, we began spreading the word about Go Heritage Run – Bidar in the running, cycling and travel communities in Bangalore, Hyderabad and Pune. Locally, our partners publicised the event at engineering colleges and a few local malls. We also invited staff from Bidar’s Air Force Station and students from local schools to participate. Online, our growing editorial team published articles about Bidar’s bidriware art, Karez aqueducts, influence on the movie industry, as well as local efforts to digitize cultural heritage.
T-Shirt and Medal Design:
Influenced by Bidriware, we selected a Black-Silver-White color palette for all our run collateral – running bibs, certificates, finisher stickers and route signage. Bidriware also influenced the Go Heritage Run – Bidar T-shirt. Bidriware is known for its geometric and floral motifs so we decided to “Bidrify” our runner T-shirt and inspired by geometric patterns and human figurines, the T-shirt design is a tessellation of marathon runners. The finisher medal design was designed and hand-crafted by Mr. Rauf, a National Award winning Bidri artist. His team has manually etched each of these lovely medals! Read more about our t-shirt and medal designs here.
A Little Extra, Always:
Bidar Tourism and The Bike Affair organized a cycle ride the day before the run for runner-cyclists wishing to run. Also on the day before the run, a Karez Exploration Tour was organized so runners could explore Bidar’s 500-year old Persian influenced water harvestation systems. Mrs. Anuradha Reddy, Co-Convener, INTACH Telangana, also gave a presentation on the Qanat and Karez irrigation systems in Iran and similarities with Bidar’s aqueduct systems. Over 50 people attended the Karez walk and the INTACH presentation and they left with a better understanding of one of Bidar’s most important cultural heritage assets.
The Karez system is currently being restored after centuries of abandon and various agencies including our partners Bidar District Administration, Karnataka tourism, IHCN and other consultants are working on this project. We are glad to highlight this project through the run!
As the sun rose over the 500 year old Bidar Fort, over 200 runners set out along the 5K, 10K and 21K routes. They actively explored heritage – by running alongside the fort’s triple-moated periphery, past the Guru Nanak Jhira Sahib shrine, through the Ali Barid Tombs, under the Shah Gunj and Fateh Darwazas, around a clocktower, past the Ashtur Tombs and the octogonal Chaukhandi and then, back to the Bidar fort via an uphill route that allowed runners a stunning view of an entire south facing section of the outer fort wall. Our 21K route was so replete with heritage sites that a couple of runners took 4 hours to complete it – and really lived true to our motto of active exploration of heritage by stopping to sight see and take pictures all along the way. Our youngest runners, were boys and girls aged 5 and they ran the 5K route along with parents – sometimes going so far as to pace them outright! Also in attendance were contingents from the local police and the air force station running along the 21K route.
See all photos here – link
According to UNWTO, tourism produces economic and employment in several sectors – from construction to agriculture to telecommunications. Go Heritage Run – Bidar convinced nearly 150 runners, cyclists and families to travel to Bidar and explore the town. Several thousand more read the stories about Bidar online through our website and will some day visit to experience the heritage there.
Attracting hundreds of out-station runners and their families to a run destination has a significant impact on the local economy, and draws attention to often under-appreciated heritage sites and our run in Bidar was no different. Over 150 out-station runners and cyclists and their families now have a greater understanding of Bidar’s history and cultural heritage. They also positively influenced the local economy by patronising local hotels and restaurants. Further, the run gave an impetus to local arts and crafts by creating greater awareness about local arts and crafts among the running community, as well as by working with local artisans to design hand-crafted medals.
We would like to thank all our partners who made this run possible – by granting us necessary permissions, technical support and assisting with volunteers and logistics – Karnataka Tourism, Rotary Club of Bidar, The Archaeological Survey of India, Team Yuvaa, INTACH Hyderabad, IHCN and India Running.