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Srirangapatna's timeless gems

Last Updated : 03 January 2011, 15:10 IST
Last Updated : 03 January 2011, 15:10 IST

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It was Tipu who got the sundials installed at the two spots. They have been placed on a black stone raised by two pillars, five feet high. While the sundial on the Jamia Masjid’s terrace is in a circular shape, the one near the Gumbaz (Hyder Ali’s tomb) is in the shape of a square. The sundials have been modelled on the sundials that were installed in Arab countries.

There are eight straight lines on every clock. There are engravings in the Persian language, too.

The sundial also has 19 circles, apart from a hollow space at the centre, which has a needle-like protrusion made of an alloy which can expand and contract according to the temperature.

Based on the shadow that the needle casts, the time of the day can be determined. According to the tenets of Islam, a person has to perform namaaz five times every day. This sundial came in handy for people who wanted to ascertain the time for prayers. Also, soldiers would change their shift based on the time that this sundial indicated. Some people also believed that Tipu Sultan had installed gold dials on this clock. The practice in the sixteenth century was that the sundials were used in places of worship.

Till Tipu Sultan got a modern clock from France, he depended on the sundial at Srirangapatna. Once the clock came from France, sundials were no longer used.
Tipu, who took France’s watchmaking skills as a challenge, got his blacksmiths to make a similar one and presented it to the British as a gift, according to historian Prof Kareemuddin.

The sundials have braved the sun, rain and winds over centuries. Today, they are being maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India.

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Published 03 January 2011, 15:08 IST

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