Thursday 30 May 2013

When Tipu wanted Nazarbad as his capital

When Tipu Sultan (1750-1799) became the ruler of Mysore after the death of his father Hyder Ali in 1782, he threw off all pretences that his father had followed of owing allegiance to the Wodeyar Kings.
Tipu strengthened the fort at Srirangapatna even as he razed to the ground the old fort of Mysore built by the Wodeyars. He then shifted the royal family of Wodeyars from Mysore to Srirangapatna and kept them in a palace under strict watch.
Even as Srirangapatna began to gain prominence, the Hindu city of Mysore went into a decline. Tipu then decided to found a new city near the remnants of old Mysore and he called it as Nazarbad.
Nazarbad took shape a little away from where the old fort stood-near Doddakere Maidana today which is east of the Mysore palace.
Tipu decided to build a fort and enclose his Nazarbad within it. Construction of the fort began and the old stones and huge blocks from the old fort, which were lying at the site, were shifted to Nazarbad which was roughly about a mile away from where the main palace is located today.
By then, Nazarbad already had a few houses, but the were constructed hastily and they did not last long. Records available even today in the Mysore Palace called “The annals of  Mysore”,  speak of both the destruction of the old city and Nazarbad that existed in 1799-1800.  
The annals and British records indicate that Tipu constructed several sheds for construction labourers and ordered them to dig a trench so that the foundation for the fort would be strong. The labourers were engaged in digging huge trenches when the fourth War of Mysore in 1799 spelt the end of Tipu.
When Tipu died on May 4, 1799 in Srirangapatna, the work on the fort stopped. When the victorious British troops arrived in Mysore along with the Wodeyars, Col. Arthur Wellesley and Dewan Purnaiah, they found the old city of Mysore almost in ruins.
Even Nazarbad appeared rickety. There were a little more than 400 houses and most of them were constructed in the Vatara or group houses or cluster style. There was the proverbial prostitute street, market street, small market yards, quarters for soldiers and little else. 
The annals  also speak of one inner fort (Vola kote), one outer fort (Hora kote) and an impure fort (Antana kote) in Sringara Garden. The impure fort had 422 houses, almost all of them constructed in the vatara formation or group or cluster houses which is mentioned in an earlier paragraph.
B. L. Rice, in his Mysore Gazeteer, says “Tipu made every effort to obliterate all traces of Hindu Raj. He razed the city of Mysore and the ancient palace of the Rajas to the ground and deported one and all, including the royal family, to Srirangapatna. The stones of the old fort were employed by Tipu to build his own fort at a place he called Nazarbad.”
Nazarbad, says Rice, was almost a mile to the east of the old Hindu city of Mysore.
Rice also quotes Major Wilkes as saying that the new fort being built in Mysore by Tipu could not have been of even the slightest use in defending Mysore.  It was still unfinished and large stones and boulders were lying about in the area. The only remaining structures in the fort were workmen sheds.         
Even the houses within Nazarbad fort were falling apart as they had been constructed in haste and the materials used were not of good quality. With not even a single suitable house in existence in Mysore, the British decided to conduct the coronation of Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar, the third, in one of the construction sheds in Nazarbad.
The shed was decorated and a large tent added for the coronation ceremony.  
Today no trace of the shed exists. Nor is there any remnant of the capital city that Tipu had planned. Only Nazarbad survives with a locality bearing the name.
However, a few remnants of the Nazarbad fort still survives. Look carefully around you and the fort entrance can be identified along with two watch towers on the Mysore-Bangalore road, near the Mysore Jail building.
Old timers like Dr. M.S Prasad, a former scientist of CFTRI in Mysore, recall that parts of the fort could still be seen almost up to the German Press on the T. Narasipur Road until recently. Unfortunately, it has been demolished, a victim of road widening by the civic body.
Another building ascribed, though this is disputed, is a bungalow on Chamaraja Road. Historians say Tipu did stay in this building when he visited Mysore and this structure bore some resemblance to the Daria Daulat in Srirangapatna. This building was partly pulled down in 1994 and completely razed to the ground in 2010.
Though Tipu’s dream of making Nazarbad a political and administrative capital remained a dream, a beautiful Government House has come up on Theobald House in Nazarbad.
This building, a mini Vidhana Soudha, has fulfilled Tipu’s dream of making Nazarbad the centre of power.    
It will house the office so the tahasildar, sub-registrar, taluk panchayath and other offices.
Incidentally, the mini Vidhana Soudha stands on 2 acres 3 guntas of land where the old Tahasildar’s office stood in a century-old building. This old building was pulled down eight years ago to make way for the new three-storied structure which cost Rs. 8.2 crores.

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