Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Exploring the Old Capital - Srirangapatnam

It was my second visit to Srirangapatna. First time, we went straight to Sangamam and then to Mysore. This time the journey was dedicated to Srirangapatnam and Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary, but we had to cut the latter in the last minute.

It was one of the coldest mornings in this season; yet we (Me, Gokul, Nixon, Rakesh, Aldrine, and Subeesh) finally assembled at St. Jones Cross around 6.45 in the morning. From here we took one bus to Mysore Satellite stand and reached there around 7.45. Located on Bangalore - Mysore highway Srirangapatnam is easily accessible from both Cities. We boarded one Karnataka RTC bus and its tire slowly started rolling around 8.00 am.

Soon we left the borders of Bangalore and found ourselves moving through the lonely SH 17, the Bangalore - Mysore highway. There was hardly anything to see on both sides of the road other than some crowds in the towns and bus stands. I slept for a good part of the journey. After short journey of 3 hours we crossed the river and reached the river (Kavery) island Srirangapatnam (approx 20kms away from Mysore).

History of Srirangapatnam

During the time of Vijayanagar Empire City was the seat of a major viceroyalty. It is from here Vijayanagar Viceroys oversaw the vassal states of Mysore and Talakkad. During the decline of Vijayanagar city fell in to the hands of Mysore Raja Wodeyar - 1610. Later, during the reign of Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan Srirangapatnam again rose in to prominence - in the form of their capital. This place also witnessed several historical incidents like the Siege of Srirangapatnam during the Third Anglo - Mysore war and the Final and Decisive battle of Fourth Anglo-Mysore (1799) war which ended in the death of 'Tipu Sultan' and the end of a major threat to the East India company.

Dariya Daulat Bagh

After walking some meters from the bus stop, we saw the big board on the left welcoming us. We took the left turn from the highway and entered the road going to the Sangamam. After walking some time, we reached the crowded Dariya Daulat Bagh - A 1784 summer retreat of Tipu Sultan (entry fee 5 Rs for adults, no separate charge for Camera (excluding video camera). After crossing the beautiful garden we entered the main building - A structure made of Teak and built in Indo-Saracenic style. This building contains a lot of paintings in its inner and outer walls. Here you can see a small number of items used by Sultan and some old swords. For seeing the rest we have to go to British Isles!!!

Access to the visitors was limited to the ground floor. On the exit there was a full life painting of Tipu Sultan. A guide, standing close to me, was explaining about this painting to a foreign visitor. In the end he added, "This is similar to Monalisa, just walk in any  direction you want by looking to the painting, you will feel that the eyes and legs of Sultan are always in your direction".

Srirangapatnam Fort

We slowly came out of the Bagh, the compound also had a number of monkeys. As it was lunch time, we went straight to a veg hotel in the sides of main highway. After lunch we walked towards the fort, whose entrance is close to the bus stand. Built in 1537 by Kempe Gowda, this fort with its double walled defence system is considered as one of the toughest forts in India. This fort, which also contains a Jain temple, had four main entrances known as Delhi Gate, Bangalore Gate, Mysore Gate and Water and Elephant Gates. Time and war took its toll on this building, now it’s almost gone.

Our first destination inside the fort was Juma Masjid, crowded with pigeons the minarets of the Masjid was very much interesting. We got an auto driver from here, who was very eager to show us the entire historic city. After much negotiation finally we reached a mutually agreeable amount and boarded his three tired old Bajaj auto. I took the half seat along with the driver in the front and rest of the people adjusted themselves in the back. Our first destination was an old ammunition depot; from here you can saw the entire fort and the city.

RanganathaSwamy Temple

After crossing the Jain temple we reached the famous RanganathaSwamy Temple. Unfortunately it was closed by the time we reached there. Here Swami Ranganatha lie in a relaxed position on the bed of Adi Shesha. Apart from the shrines of Ranganayaki Thaayaar and Lord Krishna this temple also contains the images of Gowtama Muni and Kaveri. There was a big chariot parked in front of the temple. According to the belief all the islands formed by Kavery river are for Ranganathaswamy, and large temples were built in the three of the biggest islands of Kavery in the ancient times dedicated to RanganathaSwamy. 'Adi Ranga' at Srirangapattnam, 'Madya Ranga' at Shivsamudra and 'Anthya Ranga' at Srirangam.

It looked like carrying seven people, including driver, was too much for that poor three legged vehicle. In front  of the temple, auto's tyre was punctured and driver started his marathon for replacement. From the temple, we went to Col Bailey’s Dungeon - a small building measuring 30.5m wide and 12.2m high. It was in this dungeon, built using brick and mortar, Tipu imprisoned Col Bailey, Capt Baird, Col Brithwite, Capt Rulay, Frazer, Samson and Lindsay.

After visiting the dungeon we came back to the temple, we waited a long time for the driver. After giving him a last call we decided to start walking. Quickly he reappeared on the scene and replaced the tyre. Later he claimed that, it was the first time such a thing was happening to that auto - a comment hardly anyone can swallow after seeing the poor state of that machine!!!

Next point was Tipu's palace - I was unable to see anything close to a palace in that place. An unfortunate end for a building which once controlled a good part of South India. We continued our journey, and saw the place where the soldiers of East India Company broke in to the fort; Tipu was killed some yards away from here. I silently stand in front of the memorial for some time remembering about the Anglo-Mysore wars and the final battle.


Once again we crossed the main road and went straight. On the way there was a board indicating the distance to the famous Nimishamba Temple. With in some time our chariot reached Sangamam, we slowly walked towards the water body, which are on their way to Bay of Bengal.


Gumbaz was the next destination. On our return trip to main road from Sangamam we reached Gumbaz - The Mausoleum of Tipu Sultan, his father Hyder Ali and his mother Fathima Begum. The inner walls of the Mausoleum were covered with tiger stripes. This compound also contains the tombs of many other people from Tipu’s family.

There is a large ground beautifully decorated with green grass and dotted with red flowers. After removing the shoes (shoes are strictly prohibited) we went inside. I joined a small queue waiting to enter the mausoleum. Inside, three tombs - Hyder Ali's in the middle, Tipu’s and his mother's were on both sides. We stood there silently for some time, thinking about the past glory of Srirangapatnam and Anglo-Mysore wars.

Horse riding was available on the road. They offerered a horse ride for some 150-200m, just for 120 rupees!!! Interesting thing was, some 30 minutes back while we went in to the Gumbaz charge was 60!!! Some of us were not interested and some others were remembering the fate of Superman hero 'Christopher Reeves' didn't go for horse riding. Only Nixon and Aldrine were interested in horse riding, as they were bargaining the charge came down very fast to normal rate.

Finally it’s time to leave, with a very heavy heart I dropped Ranganathittu Sanctuary for another time. As it was not easy to reach Ranganathittu sanctuary before 5pm, so we went back to the main road and boarded another KSRTC bus to Bangalore.


Tail Piece

Maddur Vada: Maddur is a town located on Mysore - Bangalore highway on Mandya district. On the return journey bus stopped for some time on a bus stand there. We just went out and bought some snacks. One of them was Maddur Vada, with a different taste, if you are travelling through Maddur don't forget to get down there and enjoy this special food of Maddur.

Please visit agian for seeing the photos.

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