Digital Dimdima
-By Jayanthi Mahalingam
The Kaveri in Mythology
The Kaveri in Kodagu
Meet the Kodavas
The first Tributary
The Kaveri Enters Mysore
An Ancient Dam
Visweswaraya's Dream
A Dream Fulfilled
Mysore's Guardian Angel
In Tipu's Domain
The Great Temples
The Shifting Sands
Sand Covered Temples
Shivasamudram
The Goat's Leap
The Kaveri in Tamil Nadu
The Last Island
An Outpouring of Music
The Temple Trail
Journey's End

 

In Tipu's Domain

The Kaveri flows south-east for about 37 km from Krishnarajasagara till it bifurcates and forms the first of the three major islands on its course - Srirangapatna - which is 5 km long and 2 km wide. On each of the three islands there is a large shrine to Sri Ranganatha. Since the temple in Srirangapatna is the first, it is known as Adiranga.
The island was of strategic importance in medieval times right up to the 18th century, when Haider Ali and later his son, Tipu Sultan gained possession of it.

The structure that dominates Srirangapatna is the fort, built in 1454 during the Vijayanagara regime. It spreads over 5 sq km and is a city within itself, with a present population of more than 20,000. The fort encloses the Ranganatha temple, the mosque built by Tipu, his Lal Mahal palace (now in ruins) and the dungeons where he incarcerated prisoners of war.
Sher-e-Mysore Tipu Sultan was a remarkable personality who valued independence above all else. Some historians, notably British ones, have condemned Tipu as a bigot and a tyrant. But this view seems to be an exaggerated one. When the Shankaracharya of Sringeri appealed to him for help, Tipu intervened and got his assets restored. Both Haider and Tipu made generous grants to Hindu places of worship. The Ranganatha temple has a number of silver vessels donated by them and the duo is believed to have made obeisance to the deity before riding out to battle.
The Srirangapatna fort saw the last major siege during the fourth and final Anglo-Mysore war fought in 1799. But this time, Tipu could not weather the British attack. His final struggle took place near the old palace by the Water Gate which faced the Kaveri. Wounded and exhausted, Tipu collapsed and crawled in a half-conscious state towards a narrow passage between the outer and inner walls, which led into the fort. But it was blocked by one of his traitorous officers named Mir Sadiq and the bullets aimed at Tipu's head found their mark. The spot where the brave sultan fell is marked by a marble plaque.
The three notable monuments in Srirangapatna erected by Tipu Sultan, are the Masjid, the Darya Daulat Bagh and the Gumbaz. The mosque, built in 1787, has a 250-step winding staircase leading up to the two sky-scraping minarets. From here, one can have a bird's eye-view of the entire island. Dariya Daulat Bagh, literally 'the garden of the wealth of the sea', is located outside the fort and served as Tipu's summer palace. The walls are decorated profusely with murals portraying Tipu's battles. There is now a museum housed here. The Gumbaz, situated at the south-eastern end of the town, is the mausoleum containing the tombs of Tipu and his parents. With its jet-black basalt pillars and inlaid ivory doors, it is a graceful building screened by cypress trees.


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