Tuesday, 12 March 2013

The Srirangapatna that I know

I was born n Mysore and did part of my schooling in the CFRTI school. As a Mysorean, I grew up on the heroic tales of Tipu, the magnificent Dasara procession and the Wodeyars.
Srirangapatna, to me was just a train stop away.
I must have visited Srirangapatna more than a hundred times and each time the small little island on the Cauvery has given me a surprise. I would like to share some of the most memorable moments of the place and also the historical spots in and around the fort town.
Srirangapatna is 26 kms from its district headquarters of Mandya and 14 kms from Mysore. It is surrounded on all sides by Cauvery.
Srirangapatna was also known as Srirangapura, Thiruvaranga Narayana Chaturvedi Mangala, Gautama Kshetra and Ubhaya Kaveri Madhyavarti.
Avinasheshwara, a Sanskrit poet, refers to the town as Karivaradarajapura and the British records call it as Seringapatam.
This Jaladurga or island fort was initially built by Thimanna Hebbar, a Palegar chief of Nagamangala in 1454 A.D.
Raja Wodeyar (1610A.D.) and Kanteerava Narasaraja Wodeyar (1654 A.D.) built the eastern second round fort wall.  Chikkadevaraja Wodeyar arranged for the cannons to be kept on the bastions near the inner fort, outer fort and the Jeebi entrance doors.
Some of the monuments of Srirangapatna are:

Jamia Masjid
Tipu constructed the masjid to the right of  the Ganjam Gate in 1782 A.D. It is built on the base of a Hanumantha temple and this fact is recorded by the Department of the Archaeology in its report of 1935.
The Masjid’s Mehrab is artistic and towards the top, it turns westwards. After crossing the pond and climbing the steps, one finds the decorated artistic wall of the spacious upper storied hall.  It contains selected verses of Quran as well as 99 names of Allah written in beautiful calligraphy.
Nearby is the water gate and a plaque indicating the place where the body of Tipu was found on May 4, 1799.
Gangadhareshwara Temple
Next to this is the Gangadhareshwara temple facing east, a Hoysala structure with many additions during Vijayanagar- Mysore regime. The Dalvays- ministers of the Wodeyars- also contributed to the temple. The main garbhagriha houses a Shivalinga referred to as Gangadhareshwara. Just behind this temple is the Prasanna Parvathi temple.
There are five inscriptions regarding this temple. Three of them refer to land grants and the other two refer to the services by Kalale Nanjarajaiah who established the Panchaloha Dakshina Murthy sculpture in the temple as well as a certain Shivarama Pandita who consecrated the deity of Tandaveshwara.
The temple has beautiful sculptures of Shanmukha, Saptamatrika, Narayana, Mahishamardini, Surya, Aditya Bhairava,
Veerabhadra, Panchamukhi Gayathri and other idols.
In the small shrines of this temple complex are Shivalingas like Omkareshwara, Avamukteshwara, Samvartakeshwara as well as idols of  15 devotees among the 63 Shiva devotees of Tamil nadu.
A record dated 1610 A.D. from Kilagere (Chamarajanagar
taluk) refers to a Veerashaiva Matha that existed in this temple.
Lal Mahal
The site to the right and in front of the Gangadhareshwara temple is the location of  Lal Mahal, the palace of Hyder and Tipu of which only the basement remains.
Once a grand palace that flourished with decorations during the Tipu’s regime, it later became a godown for sandalwood collection for some time.
Ranganatha temple
This is the most imposing structure of Srirangapatna. A legend says that this place was named Gautama Kshetra because saint Gautama and his wife Ahalya who came from the north, settled here in an hermit (ashram) and worshipped Ranganatha which was situated in a Tulasi garden.
The Ranganatha temple faces east and it is built in Dravidian style. It is one of the biggest temples in the State. It houses a crowned and richly ornamented Ranganatha sculpture in sleeping posture on a big serpent (Adishesha), resting his head on his right hand, and turning to his right flanks.
A local legend states that the world will come to an end when the deity wakes up and stars to measure with the help of  “seer” being used as his pillow.
The deity is about ten feet in its length, placed across in the north and south directions in the garbhagriha is a beautiful single stone sculpture.
At the feet of the deity are sculptures of Cauvery and the saint Gautama in worshipping postures. The doorframe of the garbhagriha is attractive with Gajalakshmi on its lintel, as well as doorkeepers on either side.
The six hexagonal ceilings has lotus decorations. The temple was expanded during the reign of the Nagamangala chief Samanta Thimmanna Dandanayaka (1458 A.D.) and then it became more popular.
A record dated 1528 A.D., from Srirangapatna refers for the first time the addition of the Ranganayaki temple in the complex during
the Vijayanagar regime. It is believed that Alamelamma wife of Thirumalaraya, the representative of the Vijayanagar regime used to lend her ornaments for decorations to the goddess  every Tuesdays and Fridays.
It is also believed that the present nose ring now on the deity belongs to Alamelamma.
On the outer Prakara of the temple are separate temples housing beautiful sculptures of Garuda, Suryanarayana, Lakshminarasimha, Kodandarama, Gajendra Varaprasada, Prasanna Venkataramana, Hanumantha and others.
Hydernama refers to the repairs undertaken by Hyder Ali in 1774 A.D. when a portion of the temple caught fire. The repaired portion was the Patalankana of the temple.
Hanging bridge
In 1808 A.D., Col. D. Haviland, a French Engineer who specilised in Arch structure, constructed a 112-feet long hanging arch bridge made out of bricks and stucco.
It is said that the bridge was actually swinging up and down for about one and half inch like a spring. Nevertheless, it collapsed in 1939 A.D.
Now, only some remnants of the bridge remains are seen. This structure, which is in ruins, is close to the Ranganatha temple
Wellesley Bridge
Welleslley Bridge, also known as Kirangur bridge, was built across the north Cauvery by Diwan Purnaiah during 1807 and named after the then Governor General  Lord Welleslley.
There is the ruined structure of the Palace that was a residence for the representatives of the Vijayanagar regime and the Mysore kings in front of the Ranganatha temple. It is known that during Tipu’s reign, the family of Mysore kings had their refuge in this palace.
Lakshmi Narasimha Temple
A little away from the palace, is a spacious Lakshmi Narasimhaswamy temple. Its outer Prakara is lost.
This temple built during the reign of Kanteerava Narasaraja Wodeyar has sculptures of Narasimha sitting in the posture of embracing Lakshmi, on an elevated pedestal as well as Ambegalu Krishna.
In a garbhagriha to the left of the rangamantapa of the shrine, is a three and a half feet high sculpture of Kanteerava Narasaraja Wodeyar with a record on its base.
The Lakshminarasimha sculpture was brought from Thiruchinapalli by the Narasaraja Wodeyar.
During the reign of the king Chikkadevaraja Wodeyar, the
temple was expanded. Tipu destroyed the shikhara and the mukhamantapa of this temple. He had converted this as a mint. After the death of Tipu, it was Mummadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar who renovated this temple.
Krishnaraja Mandira
A little distance away, at the place of birth of Krishnaraja Wodeyar, a building called Krishnaraja Mandira was constructed. Now it houses the State Archaeological Museum.
Pete Rama Temple
The barber community administers the Pete Rama temple located in the market street near the Fort. A record dated 1537 A.D. refers to the exemption of some taxes given to the barbers of Srirangapatna area by Mahamandaleshwara Rama Rajayya Maha Arasu.
Recently an idol of Tyagaraja, the musical giant was established. Sacred mud from the Tyagaraja tomb at Thiruvayyar
was brought to this place while establishing this tomb.
Every year a music festival is held worshipping Tyagaraja and Purandaradasa, with pomp and gaiety.
The Jyotirmayi temple in the same road is also a spacious temple. Three records dated between 1852 and 1864 A.D. refer to the grants given to the Kalamma temple.
Adinath Temple
The Adinatha temple, a temple dedicated to the first Jain
Theerthankara Vrishabhanatha has been completely renovated. Sculptures of Dharanedra Yaksha and Padmavathi Yakshi the main deities of the Ganga period in the garbhagriha are noteworthy.
A record dated 1666 A.D. on the left wall of the mukhamantapa of the Basadi refers to the grant given to the treasury of Adishesha at Srirangapatna by a certain Payanna and Rajayya, the disciples of
Charukeerti Panditacharya.
Flag mast
The National flag is being hoisted during the Independence Day celebrations on the flag bastion located at the southeast corner of the fort.
This place supposed to be the place of sky-high flag hoist
during the Vijayanagar, Mysore, Tipu and British regimes.
Nearby is a ruined Gun Powder Chamber of Tipu’s regime. In addition, there are Ankalamma, Lakshminarayana, Santana Gopalakrishna, Nagareshwara, Janardhana, Anjaneya and other old temples as well as temples of Ayyappa, Subramanya, and
Shatakoti Rama Mandira.
The place also has Uttaradi Matha, Raghavendra Matha, Yathiraja Matha and a sacred temple of  Madhwaswamy near the water gate.
Daria Daulat
Outside the fortified area to the east, on the road to Sangam, lies the attractive garden and the summer palace of Tipu, called Daria Daulat (a sea of wealth).
This was also Tipu’s  rest house and an amusement centre.
Reese, a foreign traveler, has stated that there is no other place like this in India except for the Palace at Esphan in its decorations of color paintings spread throughout the walls.
The palace is in Indo Sarcenic style. Originally, the east and west walls of the building had scenes of the battle of Kanchipura (1780 A.D.), pictures of Hyder-Tipu, different Palegar Chiefs and Kings in varieties of  colours. However, Tipu defaced these paintings before the invasion of Srirangapatna by the British in 1799 A.D.
After the fall of Srirangapatna, this palace became the residence of Col.Wellessly and the wall paintings in color were repainted and reconstructed. Lord Dalhousie in 1855 A.D., once again ordered the paintings to be redone with the help of local artists. Even though these color paintings are repainted twice, the original forms have been retained.
The paintings are important as they give us minute details of the soldiers and their dresses belonging to British, French, Maratha, Nizam and local Palegar chiefs.
Tipu built this palace in 1784 A.D., on the model of a palace built by the Moghul Governor Dilawar Khan at Sira in Tumkur district.
Tipu used to call upon the Ambassadors at this palace and then  return back to the residential place inside the fort. It is said that initially there was a Mahanavami Mantapa in the place and the Mysore kings were celebrating Dasara festival from it. Afterwards in 1711 A.D., Hyder had converted the place as an army camp.
Shahar Ganjam
Situated to the left of the Summer palace this was the market place. Tipu established this city as a residence for the family of artistes he brought from Sira for manufacturing paper and silver-wired headgears.
A record refers to a jam-packed Sira Bazar and after the attack of the Plague in 1799 A.D. , it was neglected.
Near the Daria Daulat is the Church of Abbe Dube. The church is named after the French priest who constructed the structure. A record dated 1880 A.D on the bell tower of the church refers to it.
The Church is a simple structure in Indo French style. Inside the Church, articles such as French water pot, artistic cross, the
sculpture of the Christ as well as the picture of a priest, his clothing, his chairtable and others are still preserved.
The tower bell made out of brass weighs 200 kilograms.
Nimishamba Temple
The Nimishamba-Mukteshwara temple on the northern banks of  Cauvery  is near Ganjam. It has a Puranic legend attached to its structure.
The legend says that the goddess Adishakti, at the request of saint Mukthamuni, bore different forms in a fraction of a minute or Nimisha to kill demon Janumandala who had the power to bore different forms in a minute. Hence, the name Nimishamba
Boating facilities are available here.
A large number of devotees visit this place during Tuesdays and Fridays.
Gosai Ghat
This Ghat is about one km away on the southern bank of  Cauvery. It is to the right of the road to Gumbaz. Between the two Ghats, the smaller ghat has a small temple and a bathing ghat.
The bigger ghat is called Gosai ghat. It has a temple complex on the banks of the river dedicated to deities such as Ishwara, Hanumantha, and Kashi Vishwanatha.
The spacious Kashi Vishwanatha temple is the main shrine and the flow of Cauvery in front of the temple should be seen to be believed.
Bailey tomb
A record of 1816 A.D.,  at the memorial tomb of Col. Baily states that it was constructed by his half brother. Col. John Beli.
By the side of this, is the site of the Lalbagh Palace.
Hyder started construction of the [palace which was completed by Tipu. The structure had two floors, whose rooms and the corridors were attractive.
During the invasion of  Srirangapattana in 1792 A.D., Lord Cornwallis stayed in this palace. The dead bodies of British soldiers were also cremated here.
The palace was repaired in 1799 A.D., and Col. Barry Best bena staying here. Afterwards the structure was neglected and it became dilapidated.
The structure was in a ruined state during the visit of Rev Hoole in 1822 A.D. itself. British records say the building was destroyed and the teak wood furnishings reused to build a new structure of the Saint Stephen Church as well as restructuring the Trinity Church at Ooty.
On the right side of the road to Sangam from Gosai Ghat are the tombs of Hyder, Tipu and their family members. This is the Gumbaz.
Tipu had built the Gumbaz in 1784 A.D., as a tomb for his
father Hyder. British records refer to Gumbaz as a garden full of fruit – flower-bearing plants brought from Kabul and Kandahar. Fruit plants like Mango, Apple, Orange, Lime, Seethaphala, Dalimbe, Rose apple and Hippu Nerale were planted in the garden.
Dalhousie installed the beautiful gates etched in ivory in 1855 A.D. The Gumbaz houses the tombs of Hyder at the centre, his wife Fakrunnisa Seydani Begum to the east, and the tomb of Tipu towards the west.
Their coffins are buried in the cellar. The tombs are covered with shawls of different colours and worshipped daily. Tipu’s eighth son Ghulam Mohammed has given gold lined clothing as an offering to be used on special occasions.
The special festival referred as Tipu Urs is held. Along with the tombs of Hyder Ali (1782 A.D.), and Tipu (1799 A.D.), there are tombs of other army chiefs like Benki Nawab (1799), Imam Saab, Syed Aameed as well as that of Kamaruddin (half brother of Tipu) and his wife (Tipu’s foster mother).
The tomb houses a good library. The structure is surrounded by a pillared corridor.
There is a Masjid adjacent to tomb’s platform. Among the seven Persian records in the Gumbaz, one on the western wall has eight verses in Persian and describes in glittering words, the tomb of Hyder built by Tipu.
The record dated 1799 A.D., on Tipu’s tomb describes profusely in seven Persian and two Arabic verses, the character of Tipu who fought and died while protecting Srirangapatna.
Going towards the east from Gumbaz, one can see the beautiful confluence of the northern and southern branches of Cauvery as well as Lokapavani.
There is a PWD travelers Bungalow which originally belonged to Dewan Purnaiah. IT also housed Harris, a British Officer.
The nearby Scott Bungalow is a structure of the Mummadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar regime and was the residence of Col. Scott, an Officer in the British Canon Regiment.
A record dated 1807 A.D. refers to the death of the Col., who became mentally ill, because of the death of his wife and daughter. There is an ancient Sriranganatha temple in the same area which requires publicity.
Pachima Vahini
This is a branch of the southern Cauvery, where the river flows a little bit to the west and then to the east forming a small island in the southwest corner of Srirangapatna. The name Paschima vahini applies to both the river as well as the place. It is a holy place. A bath during Sankranti here has become famous.
The King’s ghat, the bathing ghat, mantapas, aravattiges, temples and feeding houses established by the Mysore kings in this place provides centres for people to perform the yearly ceremonies, immersing the bones and ashes as well as the pindas of their deceased elders.
A ceremony here is believed to provide moksha to the deceased. Now a days even marriages are also held here. The ashes of Mahatma Gandhi were immersed here.
The statue of Hanumantha here was installed by the Madhwa saint Vyasa Raja. The feeding houses of Wodeyar family, Nandi Basappa, Gadi Chaluvaraya Shetty, Chowdayya, Rangacharya of Andapura are in ruins.
The beautiful tomb of Kempananjammanni, the Queen of Khasa Chamaraja Wodeyar, is situated by the side of the Railway line.
This place is one km away from Paschima Vahini. A record here refers to the stone bund built across the river Cauvery during the reign of Hoysala Narasimha and other records refer to the beautiful Stucco sculptures of Narayana, Cheluvaraya and Keshava in the temple of Cheluvarayaswamy.
Between the two temples is the Chamarajeshwara temple built in 1898 A.D. It was built by Mummadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar in the name of his father Chamaraja Wodeyar.
The Cheluvarayaswamy temple is also a structure of the
Mysore kings with beautiful stucco sculptures. The mantapa at a nearby place where the river Cauvery branches, is referred as Gautama Mantapa.
Gautama Kshetra
This is on the other side of the Cauvery and it is believed to be the residence of Gautama and his wife when they stayed here. Therefore, it is called Gautama Kshetra.
Gautama worshipped Ranganatha and Thirumalaraya.
To reach this place one has to cross the branches of Cauvery on old bridge, as well as through the road to Rampur. The bird sanctuary of Ranganatithu is very near to Paschima vahini.


  1. @ The beautiful tomb of Kempananjammanni, the Queen of Khasa Chamaraja Wodeyar, is situated by the side of the Railway line....

    Wodeyar's do not bury their dead but cremate ! As such a tomb is a misnomer! what is their at best could be called a Brindvan to commemorate the dead.

    For such an elaborate article you have missed out on Bangara Doddi Nala, COL Bailey's Dungeon etc.

  2. Hi Samyuktha, you say that Hyder Ali Converted the Mahanavami Mantapa into a Military camp (which later became the Daria Daulat) in 1711 AD, however Hyder was born in 1721..so the year should be 1761 when he took power, I think you missed the 6 and typed 1 instead..