Sunday, December 10, 2023
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Obelisk of Martyrdom at Srirangapatna: The River Island Town !

On an obscure diapilated fort wall of Srirangapatna (near Mysore) at the north-western corner stands a tall stone structure – a Obelisk, honouring the British Combined forces of Colonial and native Indian soilders who vanquished Tipu Sultan in the 4th Mysore Anglo War (4th April – 4th May 1799), this war towards the end was also known as the ‘Seize of Seringapatam’ in the chronicles of British Colonial History.
Tipu Sultan was betrayed by his own people and this war lord lay dead at this spot for two days before he was found and given a decent burial in the fort premises. He lay dying trying to protect his kingdom and for his beautiful ornate sword, which an English soldier wanted to own. His ring and the sword was a part of the artefacts displayed at a British Museum. The sword with great fanfare was bought and gifted back to the Indian government by the now defamed corporate honcho on the run, the liquor baron Vijay Mallaya now sheltered at London. The British combined forces lost more than three hundred soilders, a thousand more killed, a hundred and more missing.
The Obelisk here is a beautiful structure, tall and aesthetic peaking with a canon ball on the top, and the mid base is supported with four more canon balls. It’s a stone structure right from concentric circular base to a towering pinnacle honouring the British forces led by Lt. Harris, who led the ‘Seize of Seringapatam’. Nizam of Hyderabad sent in his large force of 50,000 soldiers. Apart from these many soldiers from
Bengal Artillery, Madras Artillery, Madras Engineers, Bombay Engineers, Punjab, Gurkhas and Coorg forces joined the British. A lot of men died or went missing. A chronicle of these are listed on the 4 stone carved plaques on the Obelisk. This was commissioned by the Government of Mysore in 1907 honouring the valiant wounded and the dead. This protected monument today is guarded by ASI (Archeological Society of India). In fact all monuments inside the fort of Srirangapatna are protected by ASI. They all are pending approval towards being UNESCO monuments! – A great world recognition. This monument can be reached going past Bailey’s Dungeon crossing the railway station and tracks. The only way to reach the spot is walking past the tracks for 2 kms! It’s in your line of sight through out the trek on fort wall. It majestically stands among the ruins. It’s a place for history buffs! For a long time tourists were not allowed. It laid shadowed alongside the other beautiful edifices of Srirangapatna – the Ranganatha Swamy Temple, Daria Daulat, Gosain Ghat, Jamia Masjid etc! Ask around local people for this location and imbibe a little history. Some bitter, some sweet – but factual!
Srirangapatna is a small river island town of 25,000 population, close to Mysore and the Bangalore Mysore Highway cuts through town with a bridge running across river Kaveri. Mayura Hotel is a river side retreat on the banks of river. It’s worth visiting or staying at this Karnataka Government’s Resort. There are other private small questionable hotels and resorts. Best comfortable stay is the City of Palaces, Mysore which is a 40 mins drive. There’s are enough public transport connecting Srirangapatna. It also has a small railway station. All trains going to Mysore pass through this river island town.
Srirangapatna is connected religiously, historically and culturally in the tourist circuit. It is recommended spending a day at this town when visiting Mysore. Forts, Palaces, Temples, Mosques, River, Bird watching paradise isles, beautiful edifices, stone bridges, cemeteries …It has it all! Srirangapatna, the river island town was a great strategic location to build a fort. The foundation basic fort was built in the 1454 by Thimmanna Nayaka, the Gangas ruled from here, later the Vijayanagar Kings took over in 1495. It changed hands to the Nawabs of Arcot, the Peshwas and the Marathas. The Wodeyars of Mysore Chikka Devaraya Wodeyar (1673-1704) ruled from here. Krishna Raja Wodeyar (1734-66) also ruled from here. The Military General Hyder Ali took control of this fort paying a huge sum of 37 lakhs to the Marathas and established his linage. Tipu Sultan in 1782, took absolute control of the Srirangapatna fort and strengthened the fort with the help of the French! With the ‘Treaty of Seringapatam’ signed by Lord Cornwallis, Nizam of Hyderabad, Maharaja of Mysore in 1792′ Tipu Sultan started getting bitter with the British losing few wars and wealth. Finally the ‘4th Mysore Anglo War’ also called ‘Battle of Serirangapatam’ led to the ‘Seize of Serirangapatam in 1799, where Tipu Sultan died and it was the end of his lineage. His entire family were prisoned and sent off to far off lands like Vellore, Calcutta and England.
The Obelisk was erected by the Wodeyar Kings being aligned with the British after the fall of Tipu Sultan. The Wodeyars took and stayed in control of Srirangapatna fort and stayed at Mysore with a beautiful palace till India got it’s independence from the British. Wodeyars were peace loving kings and waging less wars contributed to the progress and the people of their kingdom. A lot of industries, dams and projects which helped the people were envisaged. History introduces you to the world of all sorts – the good, the bad, the ugly. The victors and survivors stand testimony of time. The vanquished disappear and are forgotten. A lesson well learnt for future survival. Survival and Bravery comes into prominence in the echoleons of history! Do visit Mysore – the city of palaces and Srirangapatna the Religious, Cultural and Historical town. Take a trek onto lesser known edifices for greater knowledge. Much and many more in the further issues to come. Like the Obelisk of Serirangapatam!
-Jagdeesh Laxman Singh
aka Jugie Singh
Text & Photography

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