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Srirangpattana-Tiger Tipu relives here
By Aftab H Kola, Bangalore

It was enough to invoke the name of Tipu to silence the obstinate English children troubling their father during the British rule in India. Such was the terror Tipu Sultan instilled in the minds of the English that his name had become synonymous with it. Tipu was a great warrior who was martyred fighting against the Imperialist rule of England in India. His bravery was legendary. Sadly, his Bicentenary in 1999 passed virtually unnoticed. The Government of Karnatakaís mega plans to celebrate Tipuís Bicentenary was a damp squib. Will he be forgotten as other Muslim freedom fighters or will he be yet another victim of RSSí sinister plans to remove great Muslim personalities from the pages of history and destroy their heritage, the only vestiges that they have left behind? 

Srirangpattana in Mandya (Karnataka) is a place that rekindles Tipuís legacy. It conjures up images of Muslim rule where it once flourished. The heritage left behind by Tipu Sultan magically revives the past splendour in our mindís eyes.

A great builder, the fine specimen of monuments he built in Srirangpattana (and elsewhere) bears unmistakable testimony to his creative skills and love for art and architecture.

He had erected a strong stone fort with four gates and a water gate installed to it. There are two dungeons, one at the north-east corner of the fort and another to the east of Delhi gate. The imposing Masjide-Ala, constructed in 1784 after his ascension, stands proudly with its lofty minarets osculating the sky. A flight of about 200 steps leads to the top of the minaret from where one can have an all-pervading vista of the historical town and its environs. Persian scriptures in fine calligraphy and profuse ornamentation adorn the walls and ceilings of this Juma masjid.

The magnificent Daria Daulat Bagh (garden of wealth of the sea), lying in the vicinity of the fort, is a fine specimen of Saracenic architecture. The Daria Daulat Mahal, with its finely manicured lawns and plants Tipu brought from France and China, has its exterior walls adorned with paintings depicting scenes from the wars Tipu fought, scenes of his court and royal durbars. This Summer Palace is a veritable home to Tipuís personal belongings like coins, dress and war weapons besides paintings by the European artists.

The Gumbaz is yet another monument that dots the heritage-laden landscape of Srirangpattana. Lying on the eastern end of the town, this impressive square-shaped mausoleum surmounted by a dome and surrounded by a corridor supported by pillars of black hornblende has exquisite ivory-inlaid door. Tipu and his parents Hyder Ali and Fatima Begum are buried in this Gumbaz. Tipu was martyred on May 4, 1799 fighting against the British. An inscription in Persian on the door reads: ďTipu Sultan attained martyrdom, he sacrificed his life in the way of GodĒ. The masjide-Aqsa is in the vicinity of the Gumbaz.

It is reassuring to note that Srirangpattana now houses the Tipu Sultan Advanced Study and Research Centre managed by Mr Ziaullah Sheriff, a prominent Bangalore builder. The centre offers a one-year post-graduate diploma in Islamic Studies and Community Development.


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