Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Srirangapatna, a legacy of TIPU SULTAN

Shrirangapattana is an ideal one day picnic getway from Blore. It is located on the old Mysore highway approximately 120 kms from Blore. One has to travel via Bidadi, Sholay’s Ramanagaram, Chennapatna, Maddur, Mandya and reach this place. The drive on the two laned highway is beautiful, but can be perilous for those who overspeed, many a accidents have occurred due to intermittent U turns in the middle and lorries swerving to the right due to bullock carts blocking their pathway in the morning and evening times. The road too tends to skid due to fine sand particles which are deposits from sand quarrying trucks from Mandya, which is the real downer.

The ideal breakfast halts are Ramnagaram Lokruchi Kamat, Maddur tiffin house, Amravathi Mandya, Sree Devi Mandya, and many more joints including Kadu mane which is before Bidaddi. Our favourite dinner spot is Shivu’s Dabba in Ramnagaram and a new Taj hotel has come up in Ramnagaram, which is not to be mistaken for the famous Taj group of 5 star hotels.

Historical legacy :

The real architects of Srirangapattna were rulers from the Nagamangal feudatories of the Vijaynagar Empire. Thimmanna Hebbar who under the patronage of Vijaynagar Emperor Devaraya II commissioned the construction of a mud fort in 1454 AD. In 1610 AD the wodeyars ( Kanteerava Narasaraja Wodeyar ) shifted their capital to Srirangapatna, who were instruemental in fortifying the citadel in 1654 AD.

Hyder Ali became a defacto ruler of Srirangapatna in 1761 dislodging the sovereignty of weak wodeyars. Tipu Sultan succeeded his father in 1782 and gained command over the region till he succumbed to the British in the IV anglo-mysore war in 1799.

Tipu Sultan utilised the services of the French architects to reconstruct the Fort in keeping with the Gun powder technology of war fare. The Fort walls were built with granite stones and with may gateways on the boundary of the river cauvery. The prominent gateways were Delhi gate, Bangalore gateways, Krishna gateway or Jibi gateway near the krishna temple.

Srirangapatna has been inhabited from ancient times with neolithic mankind flourishing due to abundance of water from the Cauvery basin. The migratory birds have found an idealyic habitat at Rangantitu which is now converted to a bird sanctuary by the govt of Karnataka.

Ranganatha Swamy Temple :

An inscription dated 894 AD mentions Thirumalaiah, the Ganga dynasty chieftain was instruemental in construction of this massive temple. The Hoysala king Veera Ballal in 1200 AD made grants for maintainence of the temple. This was a centre of traditional learning for priesthood, which was sponsored by Hoysala and Vijaynagar kings. The temple has seen successive renovations under various rulers who ruled the area.

A myth is associated in the form of Sage Gautama performing a penance ivoking Mahavishnu to bless this region with his presence. The serenity of the surrounding seems to have lead to the belief that Lord Vishnu appeared before him in the reclining posture known as Sheshashayi.

The huge statue of Lord Ranganatha in reclining posture on the coiled serpant with its hood raised is a magnificient sight. The lord is served by goddess Kaveria and sage Gautama. The temple has association to sage Ramunajacharaya and Deshikacharya who all belonged to the Vijaynagar era.

The figures of Lord Vishnu is embedded on the pillars in the courtyard, there are nearly twenty four forms when compared to the traditional Dashavataram. The main gopuram is in the typical Vijaynagar style which may have been commissioned by Deva Raya II ( 1424-1446 AD)

The enterance has the Gaurda pillar, which is now known as Patalankana which was commissioned by Hyder Ali. One will find a big temple chariot outside the temple premise. In one of the corners of the pavilion housing the chariot there are stone rings embedded in one corner outlining the skills of the artisans of the time, which is a tourist attraction.

Ranganatha swamy overshadows all other temples which are located nearby. At least 3 other temples which are in various state of neglect due to the absence of tourists visiting them. One of them must have used as a school for upcoming priests in olden days. Foreigners love to visit this temple which is unfrettered by artificial barriers. Guides throng the premise for dishing out historical, mystical and fanciful stories which may be amusing sometimes. It would be greek and latin to foreigners. Some guides do manage to speak English with aplomb. How much would you pay for the guide services is better to be bargained at the beginning rather than haggling in the end and cutting a sorry figure.


As one enters the fort premises the first monument in sight is Jumma Masjid. This was constructed by Tipu Sultan in 1787 AD. The Masjid is adorned by two majestic minars on the corner of the Masjid edifice. There is pond for washing the feet in the premise. The Islamic archway is combined with beautiful floral designs on the ceiling of the Masjid which is two storeyed. The inscriptions on the walls contain extracts of Koranic verses. The minar is generally closed for public which has 200 steps to reach the balcony. Currently the premise is used as a madarasa to teach the younger generations. There is no enterance fee for this Masjid.


When the wealth of the vanquished can sponsor the construction of a palace why not build a beautiful one. The Daria daulat bagh was built in commemoration of the victories of Tipu Sultan in the Konkan region. Daria Daulat is literally translated as Wealth of the Sea. The monument is built in classic fashion with landscape in plenty which may be precursor to the Lal Bagh in Bangalore. The palace is constructed mostly with Teak Wood. It is single storied rectangular shaped structure built on raised platform. This palace was considered to be summer palace for Tipu.

A mezzanine portion of the palace has two staircase which is built in a darbar fashion. The ceilings are beautifully painted in floral and geometic designs which are rich in colour and vibrancy. The western walls adorn with paintings of battle scene wherein Hyder Ali is shown riding an elephant. The second painting shows Tipu sultan along with French platoon on the battlefield. The third painting shows the victorious scenes in the battle of Poliluru. The fourth painting displays the Nizam army arriving late in aid of British. After the death of Tipu sultan the British general Arthur Wellesley occupied the palace from 1799 to 1804.

Museum : Currently the Daria Daulat Bagh houses a museum, which is on the ground floor which exhibits paintings, sketches,coins, medallions, costumes, furniture, arms and ammunition etc used by Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan. The british wanted to seen as heroes in the battle with their paintings adorning the palace. The storming of Srirangapatana an oil painting was commissioned and Robert Ker Porter executed it in 1800 AD. This was historical painting along with Robert Home painting depicting the capture of Tiups sons Abdul Khaliqu and Maiuddin along with Ghulam Ali Khan the trusted Vakil of Tipu are on display.

Tipu seems to have renovated a number of Forts and built many at Strategic locations. Many are displayed on the walls of the palace in Pencil sketches. Some of the Forts I have not been able to personally decipher. Maybe liesurely I will make a visit to jot down the details. Jamalabad, Manjarabad, are typical forts which signifies Tipu’s contribution.

The eco-friendly feature of the palace is the huge landscaped garden with maintained grass turfs. There are huge trees adorning the centre of the gardens with boundaries too filled with trees. It would have also been an ideal setting for the king to throw Dawat parties to the royal entrouge during the times of Id celeberations.


A gumbaz or Mausoleum was commissioned by Tipu sultan in honour of his parents between 1782-84 AD. It became a resting place for Tipu too after his death on 5th May 1799 AD. There are number of other tombs which may be of the nobles connected with the Tipu Sultan family. The Gombuz edifice is elegant built in the Islamic architecture. An ornamented doors adorn the mauslem. A Mosque too built in the complex for those who want to pray for the departed soul and Allah.

TIPU s Death Plaque :

A small memorial is built on to the eastern boundary of the fort, where Tipu was felled by a bullet in the battle of Anglo-Mysore on the 4th May 1799. Tipu was valliantly trying to ward of the intruders issuing order to the soldier to fire the cannons and Tipu rockets on the enemy positions. He tried to cover the sieze by jumping over the water gate. The gateway was sealed by the advancing enemy, which seems to be treachery of sorts. Tipu was betrayed by his own commander Sadiq. Tipu thus was cornered by advancing army and was wounded among the heap of soldiers. His body was found among the heap of soldiers. He thus lived by the sword and perished by the same. A simple memorial symbolises the greatness of Tipu who died fighting the British.

Malabar Dungeons : A huge Dungeon was commissioned to imprison the British soldiers who were defeated in the first two wars. The dungeons were later used to imprison the war prisoners. There was a cannon firing point which was used as a surprise during enemy attack.

Baileys Dungeon : This dungeon was used to imprison High ranking officers and royalty from the Maratha empire. This is known as Thomas Immam’s Dungeon which was discovered in 1895 AD. There are two Cannons inside the dungeon which is strange occurance, one cannon seems to have fallen into the building while construction and so it was retained there itself. Other cannon must have been provided for as an artistic feature to complete the architecture of a royal prison.


This palace was originally belonging the Wodeyars which seem to have been renovated to be known as Lal Mahal. The visitors sing lavish praise on the construction and its interior designing. One such visitor Mr Francis Buchanan visited Srirangapatana in 1800 AD, which was after the death of Tipu Sultan left a glowing account.

It is mentioned that the verses of Koran were painted in gold, with tiger stripes adorning the walls, with zenana for the queens to bathe and live. The palace seemed to contain a mezanine floor too housing the king. It is obvious that all the wealth of the palace was systematically looted and taken into the personal possession of the invaders and conspirators.

Wodeyars Museum :

The small museum is located next to the demolished palace of Tipu Sultan. It houses a number of beautiful sculptures and artifacts belonging the Ganga dynasty. Visitors can visit and enjoy the collections of the Wodeyar family. The exhibition guard will act as a guide if one is interested.

The death of  Tipu Sultan signifies the end of  Indian resistance against the British Empire which was only plausible due to betrayal of the Nizams and Marathas.  Tipu even though seen as a villian in coversion by Hindus and vandaliser of Churches will be remembered for upgrading the technology of warfare with his missile type rocket bomb  quote u.k.derebail

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