Thursday, August 18, 2005

Srirangapatna : The capital of Tipu

I was on my way to Mysore from Bangalore. I had read about Tipu Sultan and Seringapatnam in history. Now called Srirangapatna and located around 120 km from Bangalore city , this river island on Cauvery that was once the capital of Sher-e-Mysore, the legendary Tipu Sultan takes you back into history. There stand the ruins of a fort from where the Tiger of Mysore ruled and fought three valiant wars against the British. A website dedicated to Tipu says ‘Every stone in Srirangpatna speaks of its great sultan – the Tiger of Mysore’. This place was chosen as the capital of Mysore by Hyder Ali, the father of Tipu after he seized power from the Wodeyar dynasty.

We took a left turn off the Banglore-Mysore highway to visit the Dariya Daulat Bagh, the summer palace of Tipu. It has been converted into a museum and you need to pay gate fees to enter the complex. Photography is allowed in the garden but prohibited inside the palace. The palace is a beautiful piece of sculpture made of teak wood in Indo-Saracenic style. It was built in 1784. The walls are completely covered in beautiful paintings many of which depicts Tipu’s war against the British rulers. Look at the photo which I took somehow by avoiding the guards. There are few historical artifacts in display there. However most of the valuables have been plundered by the firangis after the death of Tipu and they are getting sold off at Sotebey’s. 64 of Tipu’s artifacts were sold for £1.23 million in a Sept. 2003 auction. Vijay Mallya spent £500000 of his fortune to bring back many of the artefacts back home. To know more about this auction read on this news link Auction of Tipu’s artifacts .

Thereafter we crossed the main road to visit the fort which is located on the right hand side of the Bangalore-Mysore highway. People lives inside the fort area and so it hardly looked like a protected monument. Most part of the walls of the fort were destroyed in the fourth Mysore war in 1799. All the historical monuments like the Sri Ranganatha Swamy temple, the Jumma Masjid are scattered around the ruins of the fort. However the place where Tipu’s bullet ridden body was found is now protected with fencing. I had seen a report in the net showing children playing cricket using the tombstone as stumps indicating how neglected it was. Fortunately this is now fenced.
Tipu actually lived and ruled like a Tiger. He had to fight all through his reign. His maxim was that "it was far better to live like a lion for a day than to live like a jackal for a hundred years". However, betrayed by one of his own men, who did not open the gate of the castle to let the injured Tipu in, he was killed by the British army under Lord Wellesley here on May 4, 1799. Tipu proved to be the biggest thorn for the British in the south. With his death, the British smoothly took control of entire south. It is said that Wellesley declared the defeat and death of Tipu as “Ladies and gentlemen, I drink to the corpse of India”.

It takes about an hour to visit these memorabilia in Srirangpatna. It was a nice feeling to be able to visit this place that has so much importance in our fight for freedom. We then continued our journey to Mysore.
To know more about Tipu, you may try this link Tipu Sultan .


Raja said...

Srirngapatna was the capital of Mysore Kingdom from 1610 itself. Even even the fort existed, though it was strengthened by Tipu. So the question of Hyder Ali choosing it as the Capital again shows your ignorance. For records Hyder never proclaimed himself as the King of Mysore. He kept the Wodeyars- his original masters - as nominal kings during his entire dejure reign from 1765 to 1783. He is alleged to have killed two of the Wodeyar Kings when they came of age and even installed one when no natural heir existed. He was just Sarvadhikari of Mysore. Tipu however was more adventurous and when the installed King died in 1796 , he never bothered with this pretext and instead destroyed and looted the Palace of the Wodeyars and castigated the surviving members of the Royal house to a virtual jail in a miserable hovel from where the British rescued them in 1799. He even destroyed the old Palace and fort at Mysore and shifted the populace to Shara Gajam and tried to Build a new town near Mysore known as Nazrabad - now an extension of Myosre. Tipu's megalomania to be crowned as Padasha made him a build a Throne with symbolic Tiger corner posts (instead of the traditional Hindu symbol of Lion-Simahasan) and wanted to marry a Real Princess and negotiated with the King of Kutch to agree to sacrifice one of his daughter.( Kutch as Wodeyars are chandra vamshi Raja's and Wodeyars claim to have migrated from Dwaraka in 1399). He wanted Kalif of Turkey to accord recognition as a Padsha . But his ambition was never fulfilled as he died in 1799.

Raja said...

There are many things one needs to comment but you have stated:

However, betrayed by one of his own men, who did not open the gate of the castle to let the injured Tipu in, he was killed by the British army under Lord Wellesley here on May 4, 1799.

This again shows your ignorance. Tipu was very much inside the fort and actually the whole of May 4, 1799 he did not join the war actively. Instead under the advice of the Astrologers ( who had proclaimed correctly as a fateful day) was just idling his time. When the fateful news of breach of the fort reached him he as advised looked at his face inside a Oil vessel and went out on his Horse. But it was too late. He fell and was found among a heap of dead bodies not too far from his Palace. Even Uttara Kumar in Mahabharat took war souvenirs after the Kauravas were vanquished by Bruhannala( Arjun). It is common practice in the olden days for the conquerers to enrich themselves. Hyder made his early fortune the same way. If Mallya purchased a sword in an auction, then why did he not bid for the Mahatma's letters ? He knows the antique value and he has his political ambitions too

Rups said...

One Mr. Raja (profile not available on blogger)has left comments with a totally different views on life of Tipu.

I am not a student of History, neither the article claims to be a piece of history. It is just a travelogue to that place and what I saw, heard and read. The version of Tipu's life as stated by Mr raja is not taught in history books in schools. But anyway, this provides an interesting aspect, which to me is apparently true. Thus I had decided to shre all of comments by Mr Raja.

I only beg to differ with the point raised by Mr Raja that the Mysore palace is not a money spinner for the memebrs of royal famaily. I had visted many privately owned forts and palaces in Rajasthan and also those owned by govt. Govt run forts either have no entry fee or bare minimum entry fee. Will Mr Raja explain as to why one has to pay seperate entry fee for visitng a second palace outside the main palace in the complex?

Raja said...

Mysore Palace is the private property of Wadiyar but it is being occupied by the State Govt after the death of the last Maharaja Jaya Chama raja wadiyar by force. The Present scion Mr. Srikanta datta is fighting the govt. in the courts for the last many decades. When he ultimately won the case sometime in 1997, the state govt. promptly passed a special act to take over the palace along with all the movables inside for a paltry 32 crores and a case against this is pending before the Karnataka High Court. Palace has many temples inside and hence no shoes are allowed inside. But all the gate collections goes to state govt. and Mr. Wadiyar has no say in the matter. yes, he is residing in a portion of the Palace and he runs a small museum in that portion and only gate fee from this is his. But percentage of visitors who have the time to visit this portion is comparatively small. The irony of it is Central Govt levies wealth tax on this property based on Market value on Mr. Wadiyar. Similar is the fate of his Bangalore Palace which to day is said to be worth conservatively at around 10,000 crores and wealth tax on this would be around 100 crores annually. But the State govt. wants to acquire this for a paltry 11 crores. So far from being money spinners, it has become a liability to him and even he gets the Mysore Palace back and charges ten times the present fee, he cannot save himself from bankruptcy. So it is hobsons choice and what you perceive is a simplistic view of the harsh truth.

Rups said...

Thanks Mr. Raja for this wonderful insight. I believe what you have written is true and so have published all your comments so that others can also know about this. Our knowledge is often limited to what is written in history books or what government wants us to know as history.