In a first, S'mogga museum to display 150 Hyder-era rockets

In a first, S'mogga museum to display 150 Hyder-era rockets

In a first, S'mogga museum to display 150 Hyder-era rockets

The Shivappa Nayaka Palace in the city will soon the be the world's first museum which displays around 150 iron rockets. Sources in the Archaeology, Museums and Heritage department said presently such rockets are found only in two museums in the world - Firepower: The Royal Artillery Museum in Woolwich in south-east London and the Government Museum, Bengaluru.

Two iron rockets which had been designed and developed by Sir William Congreve in 1804, popularly known as Congreve rockets and designed after the Mysore rockets, are on display in London. The Bengaluru museum has a collection of three iron rockets. But they are not displayed for public viewing.

According to officials of the department, around 150 iron rockets of various sizes were found in an areca plantation belonging to Nagaraj Rao at Nagara, Hosanagar taluk in the district, while desilting a century-old well. Many believed that they were either shells or explosive materials. At last, retired director of the department of archaeology, museums and heritage H M Siddanna Gowda confirmed they were iron rockets as they are similar to the ones in the Bengaluru museum.

R Shejeshwar, assistant director of the archaeology, museums and heritage department, Shivappa Nayaka Palace, told DH, "when we got to know about these rockets, we consulted senior officials of the department and historians. A research was conducted subsequently".

He said though it is a known fact that Tipu Sultan, the ruler of Mysore, had used iron rockets for the first time in the world during the Anglo Mysore Wars of the 18th century, such rockets were not found in large numbers anywhere in the world so far. But now, they have been found in Shivamogga district."

Nagara in Hosanagar taluk, he said, was the last capital of the Keladi rulers. Earlier, it was known as Bidanoor. In 1763, Hyder Ali, ruler of Mysore, captured the fort in Nagara and renamed the place as Hydernagar. He had set up an armoury there. So, iron rockets may have been found there.  

Historian Nidin G Olikara said iron rockets of up to seven feet in length and one to three feet in width were found. These rockets contained gun powder and soldiers used to fire them by placing them on a pole, up to a distance of two km.