Monday 5 November 2012

Tipu and his legacy in Bangalore

If Kempe Gowda is regarded as the founder of Bangalore, Tipu Sultan can be labelled as the man who gave the city its fame in  Europe.                   
It was only after Tipu took on the British and vowed to send them out if India that the cities if Srirangapatna from where he ruled, Mysore and  Bangalore became familiar to not only the British but also to the French and other countries in Europe.
The Four Mysore wars between Hyder and Tipu on one side and the British on the other made these towns a household name. The capture of Bangalore by the British in 1791 and  the fierce resistance by Tipu’s army in Bangalore during the last Mysore war in 1799 drew the admiration of  the entire British Army.
When the British overran Srirangapatna on May 4, 1799,  the British heaved a sigh of relief. Bangalore first came under the British and subsequently the Wodeyars.
Over the centuries, 213 years to be precise, the City seems to have forgotten Tipu Sultan altogether. People undertake a trip to Srirangapatna to see the relics of  Tipu Sultan’s age.  What an irony. Bangalore itself boats of a number of  places that  was closely associated with Tipu. Yet, only a handful have visited these monuments.
The first legacy of Tipu in Bangalore is the armoury. Located behind the Bangalore Medical College, it is approachable from the road adjoining the Scouts Building opposite the KIMS Hospital. The armoury was a few years ago in a deplorable condition. It is in a much better condition now, though much needs to be done to attract tourists and students of history.
The armoury was one of the many buildings that Tipu built to store his ammunition, including rockets.
Near the armoury is the summer palace of Tipu Sultan. Though only a part of the palace remains, it can give us a glimpse of the grandeur of the period.
Historian Suryanath U Kamath, who has done a lot of research on Bangalore, says Tipu stored his rockets at Kanakanhalli which is today Kanakapura. Another historian Suresh Moona has said that the areas around Jumma Masjid in today’s  City Market and Taramandelpet were store houses of Tipu’s rockets and other pieces of artillery.
 Many of the rockets of Tipu were fine tuned at Taramandalpet but not a trace of these areas remain.  The rockets were fired from Taramandelpet and they made a silver pattern in the sky. Hence, the name Taramandalpet (Tara means stars).
The rockets stored at Taramandelpet and City Market were fired from the Bangalore fort which today is located at City Market. The fort also has a close connection with Tipu. It was Hyder Ali and Tipu who renovated the mud fort of  Bangalore which was initially built by Kempe Gowda.
After the third war of Mysore in 1791 with the British, Tipu dismantled the fort and reduced it in size. Even with the reduced size, the British had to battle hard for 21 days before they could breach the fort.
The British faced Tipu’s rockets for the first time from the Bangalore fort. S.K. Aruni of  the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR) has records to prove that at least four British soldiers were killed in the rocket attacks.
Tipu introduced the art of toy making in Chennapatna and silk in Bangalore, Ramanagar and Channapatna and Devanahalli. Thus the credit for bringing Mysore silk to Karnataka in general and Bangalore-Mysore corridor in particular goes to Tipu. Today, Mysore silk is one of the best known brands of India, and Tipu took personal interest in sericulture and established 21 centres, including a silk rearing unit in Channapatna.
Lalbagh is another feather in the cap of Hyder and Tipu. A British Botanist Francis Buchanan visited Lalbagh in 1899 and observed that Tipu had introduced mulbery on a trial basis.
 To Tipu also goes the credit of  importing  mulberry from China through Bengal. He set up 21 centres to boost mulbery cultivation in the then Mysore State. He also encouraged sugarcane cultivation.
Of course, do not forget Devanahalli, which is near Bangalore. It is here that Tipu was born and the house where he spent his childhood still exists. The Devanhalli fort also has a close connection with Tipu Sultan. So does Nandi Hills which houses the summer retreat palace of Tipu and a fort. He also introduced Nilgiri plantation in India for the first time and set up an experimental nursery at the foothills of Nandi Betta.  Of course, who can forget the Tipu Drop. More about these two towns in my next article.      

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