Monday 29 July 2013

Recreating Tipu's march

History tells that Tipu Sultan was born in Devanahalli near Bangalore and that his father Hyder Ali was born in Budhikote near Kolar.
Both Hyder Ali and Tipu ruled from Srirangapatna which was their capital. The Mysore kingdom of Hyder and Tipu was a vast one and they were constantly at war with the Marathas and Nizams and later with the British.
Bangalore was an important trading and military post during the reigns of Hyder Ali and Tipu. Both father and son rode with their armies from Srirangapatna to Bangalore through the towns of Magadi and Savandurga to either reach Bangalore or Devanahalli –Nandi Hills region.
There are many small villages and towns where the armies of Hyder Ali and Tipu stopped over during their travels to and from Bangalore and Devanahalli-Nandi Hills (Nandidurga) region.
One such stopover was the village of Agalakote.
The village today, which is near Magadi, is only a small speck on the geographical map of  Bangalore district. It is s small that it cannot be spotted on the Karnataka map today.
This is the state of  Agalkote today as against the thriving and bustling small town that it was just a little over 213 years ago.
Tipu often stopped in the village to give the much needed rest to his army and also to his horses, elephants, camels and oxen, most of which belonged to the fabled Amrit Mahal breed.
The cattle and horses were stabled and given fodder either on their onward journey to Bangalore-Savandurga or Srirangapatna. The small town of Agalkote had sufficient water for the animals and it was just a few kilometers from the massive and imposing fort of Savandurga and the bigger town of Magadi.
There was abundant fodder for cattle and hay for the horses. The area also boasted of adequate water for the Army and the animals.  
Tipu and his officials took rest here and sent out detachments from this once fortified town to reconnitor the area. The fort was not a very big structure but if afforded security to Tipu and his army.
Tipu also built a mosque here where he prayed. Records of the then Mysore Kingdom say Tipu preferred to stay in elaborately pitched tents.
Today, neither the fort nor any other structure of the period, except the mosque, survives. The fort was perhaps demolished either by Lord Cornwallis when he conquered Nandidurga during the third Anglo-Mysore war of 1791 or it could have been demolished by Tipu himself when he destroyed a similar fort at Kengeri and reduced the extent of the Bangalore fort after 1791.
Agalkote is not mentioned in history books. Its only claim to recognition today is that it is near Magadi and it has an ancient mosque where Tipu Sultan prayed.
Ten years ago, 2004 to be precise, the State Government and the Army Service Corps (ASC) organized a march where horses galloped on the route once traverse by Tipu. The march commenced from Srirangapatna and it included the old hilly route of  140 kilometres from Srirangapatna to Savandurga.
The route included Tonnur (Tonnur Kere or Moti Talab) near Melkote, Brahamadevarahalli, Devarapura, Huliyudurga and Agalkote before it touched Savandurga.

The march with 200 horses was billed as Mysore safari and it was in honor of Tipu. The march took 6 days to complete the journey. The march was expected to be an annual affair and remind people of the military march of Tipu Sultan and his exploits. Unfortunately, the march also disappeared into the pages of history and it has not been held since 2004.    

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