Srirangapatna, is 20 kms before Mysore city on the Bangalore (Bengaluru) – Mysore road. It’s an inland-island town by three rivers Cauvery, Lokapavani and another tributary of Cauvery- all tributaries of the major river Cauvery.
Srirangapatna was given by the Mysore kings, the Wodeyars to Hyder Ali, Tipu Sultan’s father for the innumerable services rendered. This island town became the bastion of Tipu Sultan after HyderAli, his father succumming to illness. He had a simple coranation at Bednur on May 4, 1783. Tipu Sultan (also named Fatah Ali – after his grandfather) was born at Devanahalli on December 29, 1782, a small town near Bengaluru Kempe Gowda International airport settled base and expanded his kingdom with the aid of Wodeyars and Nizam of Hyderabad. His relationship with them was always waxing & waning. Being ambitious he reached out to Mughal kingdoms and out of country forces in the middle-east and even Napolean – the French Bonaparte, who was against the British.
Being an ambitious king he fought with the local power kings, war lords, chieftains and the British in all his short lived life of 49 years! His only allies were the French. He had 3 wifes, favourite being the third, Khadija Zamani Begum. After her death, he never married and remained a widower.
Tipu Sultan was on the battlefield from the age of 17. Md. Falak Ali on instructions from HyderAli trained him in the art of warfare. HyderAli being an illiterate employed the best people to educate Tipu Sultan. . . in various languages and arts – Hindi – Urdu, Persian, Arabic, Kannada, French along with Quran along with horse riding & Islamic Jurisprudence. He is credited with major reforms and introduction of military science. He’s known to have introduce Rockets in warfare. The British after annexing Srirangapatna took control of his rockets and developed them further in England and used it against the French to win the war. Tipu Sultan’s portrait and his rockets hang at NASA as a pioneer in rocket technology. He was interested in Horticulture and Gardening. Lalbagh a 40 acre started park is his creation. He furthered his father’s dream garden. Today it’s 188 acres!
4 Anglo Mysore wars were fought by HyderAli & Tipu Sultan from the middle of the 18 century…always resulting in treaties with the British. Ultimately by the beginning of the 19 century Tipu Sultan, the only Indian king fought bravely and died on the battle field in the 4th Anglo Mysore War in 1799 on 4th May 1799. All his neighboring kingdoms and his allies joined hands with the powerful British. He was betrayed by his own people too!
Visiting Srirangapatna today one can visit the glorious life of Tipu Sultan. The Jamia Mosque today is open to general public of all faiths, it is a magnificent structure built by Tipu Sultan for his daily prayers along with his family.
Further down one can see the Sri Ranganathaswamy temple, a Vishnu temple (Adi Ranga – first of the five Ranga) from which this island town on river Cauvery derives it’s name. This temple was first started to be built by a chieftain of the Western Ganga Dynasty in the year 984 AD. Ramanajucharya, the saint made this place of Vaishnava learing under the patronage of Vijayanagar kings. The Mysore kings Wodeyars too patronaged this temple. HyderAli & Tipu Sultan extended their support and patronage.
The original opulent Palace of Tipu Sultan a kilometer from this temple – ‘Lal Mahal’ lies plundered to the ground. Walls, floors, secret passages filled with treasures have been robbed and raised to the rubble at ground level. Today it’s a guarded and a gated protected site. All treasures with its vast library are museum display pieces in England.
Going further down the road towards the highway one can see the place where Tipu Sultan was found dead on a heap of dead soilders. This place is immaculately marked and kept.
Crossing the highway one comes across the Summer Palace called Dariya Daulat meaning ocean of prosperity. It’s beautifully built in the middle of a big garden with welcoming arches, pigeon houses landscaped to perfection. This place was used by Tipu Sultan to entertain guests. The structure is built of mortar and wood with paintings done on paper & cloth fixed to the walls.
Further down the road is Tipu Sultan’s Gumbaz which is his family tomb. He lies with his parents in the central structure. The surroundings are tombs of his wives, children, his army noble men and loyal people. There’s a mosque where daily prayers are held. This structure is beautiful and a visit is a must.
Tipu Sultan was a devote Muslim. There are many stories about his atrocities against non- islamic people viz., Christians, Coorgs and even Hindus. Basically he was ruthless with his enemies and people who aided the British. In his pursuit of becoming an Emperor of India – he might have committed some atrocities. Like one says – there are no rules in war or for the king. But, this man is considered the only king who fought all his life against the British. This 5 feet 8 inches short statured man fell prey to his own people’s treachery -Mir Sadiq, his trusted commander sold him to the British and helped them get into the impregnable Srirangapatna fort -which led to a short battle and his death.
In-fighting Kings and many small kingdoms made it easy for the British to conquer and rule over India. Hence Tipu Sultan is seen as freedom fighter of India against the British. After Tipu Sultan’s death, Srirangapatna was bestowed to the Wodeyars by the British.
Srirangapatna is a day visit place to imbibe the history of Tiger Tipu as he was called. It’s said that once he bare handed killed a tiger with his dagger when he accidentally dropped his gun and was encountered by the wildbeast. Visiting Srirangapatna is comfortable. Good roads lead to all monumental spots. One can use your own vehicle or engage a taxi or an auto. Negotiate rates before you engage one. Engage a tourist guide, it will be entertaining. A lot of eateries selling snacks can be found every nook and corner. It makes a lot of good sense to attend the Sound & Light show which is post sunset. Make sure you have transport back. One can stay or eat at Mayura -a kstdc government tourism resort at Srirangapatna – it’s well located on the banks of river Cauvery. Please book in advance in case you plan to stay here. Smaller resorts and hotels exist too… or else make Mysore your base.
One can reach Srirangapatna by train or bus too. Nearest airport is Bangalore, which is 150 kms away. During Dussera i.e., October – November there are flights to Mysore too. But Srirangapatna – Mysore is just 3 hours away from Bangalore. Earlier you leave in the morning is better as traffic piles up during the day or weekends. There are a lot of tourist places in and around Srirangapatna & Mysore, one could combine and make a weekend or an extended weekend trip.
Watch out for another perspective article on Srirangapatna shortly.
-Jagdeesh Laxman Singh
aka Jugie Singh
Text & Photography