Srirangapatna: Going back to the days of Tipu Sultan

The weather’s been wonderful lately and what’s better than to head out on a nice long drive.

Grab a few enthusiastic folks, get hold of a vehicle and hit the road. We did exactly that a couple of weekends ago. The Mysore Bangalore highway is a pleasure to drive on now that it’s all spruced up and shiny.

We head out in the general direction of Mysore. After a most hearty breakfast at Kamat’s, we are were back on the road. At Channapatna, we try to find a factory that makes those wooden toys, but being a Sunday, it was all closed. We continue to Srirangapatna.

Passing by

Our first stop is the Jama Masjid, where young boys dressed in white are moving about busily, getting ready for their studies, and following their daily routine. A few of them are curious about what we’re doing, armed with all our photography equipment but we show them their pictures, and they all laugh delightedly. The one thing about kids is the pure happiness when they look at themselves in their photographs.

A few tourists venture out into the masjid. A Japanese tourist comes out of the masjid and tells the tour guide, “There’s nothing inside!”

It’s so strange that different people view things differently. I thought there was beauty everywhere. In the towering spires of the monument so many centuries old and yet so well preserved. The boys, getting ready for their daily routine, washing up, basking in the sun, giggling amongst themselves as they whisper about things they find amusing. In the old painted rickshaw outside the masjid, its owner gone for a quick chat somewhere perhaps.


The old man sitting near the steps that lead up to the first level, directing people to open their shoes, threateningly waving a stick in his hand so we feel like little admonished children.

After some time, we venture further into Srinangapatna, passing a small stone that has inscribed on it the words, “The body of Tipu Sultan was found here.”

Just a few metres ahead we sight an arched entrance to a tunnel, painted in while with the words, ‘Watergate’ written on it and an old man and woman chatting animatedly at the entrance. No reference to the scandal by the same name, Watergate marks the site where Tipu died. We walk inside towards a small river (or rivulet) where 2 women are busy washing clothes, the whole stony area looking colourful because of the multi-coloured sarees that have been put out to dry. The lady gives us a wry look (like, yet another camera person!) and goes about her job diligently.

From there, we walk to a large temple, which happens to be closed but the children nearby are only to happy to pose for pictures, giggling and laughing and all clambering to check out the results on the LCDs.

We pass by the ruins of Tipu Sultan’s palace and then to the Obeslisk, wherein lies a dark forbidding dungeon. As you enter, you can feel the dark, gloomy atmosphere of this prison cell where people were tortured and perhaps even died. It’s like a pall of death still hangs over the dank dungeon.


Tender coconut is a great relief after the dark depths of the dungeon. We emerge unscathed though, except for a parking guy who fleeces us for 20 bucks for about 10 minutes of parking on his part of the road.

Then it was time to head back and after delicious South Indian thalis at Indradhanush, near Maddur, we sped back to Bangalore.

Some facts:

– About 13 kms from Mysore and 120 kms from Bangalore, Srirangapattana lies in the neighbouring district of Mandya. Srirangapatna is an island town encircled by river Cauvery.

– The temple of Lord Sriranganatha is said to have been built by the Chieftain Thirumalaiah in 894 AD. This was once the capital of Hyder Ali & his son Tippu Sultan, “The Tiger of Mysore”.

– In 1799 Tippu fought a fierce Battle (Battle of Mysore) against the British & fell bravely defending his capital. Srirangapatna remains in a ruined state, with its monuments now being restored.

– Various Indo-Islamic monuments that dot the town, such as Tipu Sultan’s palaces, the Darya Daulat and the Jumma Maseedi or Jama Masjid (Friday congregational mosque), date from this period.

More photos

3 Comments so far

  1. Shruthi (unregistered) on August 3rd, 2006 @ 10:31 am

    Wow, good one, Anita!
    Another way to experience Shrirangapatna completely is to make Mysore your base, and then really explore. You can, then, even add in KRS and RanganthiTTu.

  2. rubic_cube (unregistered) on August 3rd, 2006 @ 10:58 am

    “The one thing about kids is the pure happiness when they look at themselves in their photographs.” — absolutely. My 11 month daughter squeals looking at herself in the camera. She reaches out her finger to touch the lcd and says something that she understands. :-)

    There is something about your pics, something out of the ordinary that makes you feel warm and smile. The cyclist in the masjid pic, the children all ganged up… and the colorful array of clothes put up on the rocks! You call yourself an amateur, I would rather have a label appended to it – “with taste”. :-)

    Nice writeup. Esp. this place is also one of my favorite haunts!

  3. Nparry (unregistered) on August 3rd, 2006 @ 8:03 pm

    Great writing and great pictures!! Congratulations. Two days ago, the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) here in the US broadcast a travel documentary in which Srirangapatna was featured. During the train travel from B’lore to S’patna, the host of the show (an Englishman) meets a very eager-beaver train guard who wants to show off his English skills! The host asks about Bangalore and the ever-enthusiastic guard replies: “Bangalore is Second London, Saar, Second London!! You are asking me, I’m telling you and I’m emphasizing YOU!! It is second London!” (actual quote from the tape). Then the hosts asks him about S’Patna and our buddy starts again: ” It is a Tippu’s place… in the “melancholy” years of the Britisher, Tippu (also known as Tiffu) was the fighter who beat them and became very very famous, saar!! Just thought I’d share this funny bit.

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