Special Reports

Tipu Sultan heritage in ruins

By Azmathulla Shariff
The Tipu Sultan summer cottage atop famous monolithic rock of Nandi Hills, which bears testimony to the Tipu reign, is in need of immediate attention. The Archaeology as well as Horticulture departments seems to have ignored the structure which is of National Importance.

The moment one enters atop through the gigantic arch, reminds us of the magnanimity of the Tiger of Mysore, who had developed this place as a strategically located fortress, the ownership of which lies with the State Horticultural Department. Now there have been allegations and counter allegations between Archeological Survey of India and the State Horticulture department over development and maintenance of the surroundings of this national heritage. Both the departments would like to play safe on the present neglected status of this monument.

The Archeological Survey of India on its part says that the ownership of the land lies with the State Horticultural Department, and hence the maintenance is their lookout. The Horticulral Department says it is because of lack of cooperation from ASI in protecting and maintaining the monument which is in their control. The fort wall has breached in 16 places that needs immediate attention. Will the remnants of Tipu era will gets their due importance by the time the inter-departmental fight is over? Only the time will tell.

This is a protected monument of National importance as per notice boards put up by the ASI themselves. But the archaic department has failed to protect and maintain the monument which is believed to have been occasionally used by Tipu Sultan as a summer lodge according to the stone embedded in the wall of this monument. The onsite information available near the monument states that this lodge accommodates niches and originally appeared to have been decorated with paintings.

This lodge needs to be opened up for public viewing. Especially during peak season and week ends; regular maintenance of this place will highlight the importance of this monument.

“The correspondence between our department and ASI falls on deaf ears” says Special Officer, Nandihills, Mahantesh Murgod. The ASI, Senior Conservation Assistant, Kempe Gowda who is incharge of ‘Tipu Lodge’ categorically denies any lapses by the ASI in the maintenance of the same. He further says “Only ‘Tipu Lodge’ structure is in our control and the ownership of the entire land lies with the State Horticulture Department and it is up to them to take care and maintain. The correspondence between the two departments yielded no result and the outcome of this is a big zero.

Mahantesh Murgod, says “We are going to start restoration work of the ‘Tipu fort’. The major restoration task will be to fill the breaches that are visible and which require immediate action, a detailed estimate has been prepared and a proposal for sanction is pending before Chickbalapur Deputy Commissioner Anwar Pasha. The DC has further assured Horticulture department to do everything needful to restore the National heritage. The restoration would cost about rupees forty lakhs”.

The ‘Tipu Cottage’ is a rectangular two storied structure built in a fortified area on the summit of the hill. The structure is a combination of granite, mortar and wood, the mortar plaster in certain places has pealed off and spoiled the intricate artwork of the elevation from the front. The flight of steps that provides access to the above stories is covered with fungus. Fungus patches are visible all over the structure. The water marks clearly speak of percolation of water and seepage on the walls and portions of the roof. The ASI officials deny any kind of seepage in the structure, “They say that it is the humidity on the hillock that causes fungus”. The growth of wild vegetation across has further defaced the importance of this place; the weeds hide the visibility of the structure from public sight. The flight of steps leading and the ramparts and adjacent wall is utilized by the visitors as a littering place and as an open air toilet. The place is being utilized as a dumping place to keep construction material if we look through the window grills located at this famous cottage.

The Tipu cottage is surrounded by tall Silverwood, Nilgiri and Christmas trees but the growth of weeds and wild vegetation, lack of landscaped surroundings and beautification of this place reduces the importance of this place. The hill which is called as Paradise of rock and flora at Nandi hills needs immediate attention not only for its flora and fauna but for the heritage that remains located at a height of 1478 meters besides beautifying the surroundings of the Tipu monument.

The government is spending huge funds on expansion of infrastructure besides upkeep of colonial structures which is being maintained with beautiful landscapes surroundings with large number of ornamental and floral plants. The monument did receive recognition under Mysore Presidency, but today it is in a state of ruin. The heritage structure which is the symbol of pride, having roots to the great soul of Tipu Sultan is neglected.   

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-31 March 2010 on page no. 17

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