An island to envy

An island to envy

Cradled by River Cauvery, the tiny island town of Srirangapatna is where history comes alive through holy sites, stunning monuments and riverine hotspots, writes Vathsala V P

Daria Daulat Bagh

Very close to the heritage city of Mysuru is this historical town of immense tourist interest. Preferred by pilgrims and picnickers alike, this island town in Mandya district is surrounded by River Cauvery. Dotted with holy shrines, heritage sites and scenic spots, it is a place that is more than just a weekend hotspot. Welcome to Srirangapatna.

Sitting snugly on the Bengaluru-Mysuru highway, this town is named after the presiding deity of the place, Lord Ranganatha. The very many attractions here, including the Ranganathaswamy Temple, Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary, Tipu’s Fort and Daria Daulat Bagh, make it a must-visit destination.

Blast from the past

The town of Srirangapatna has an interesting past, too. Ruled by the Gangas, Hoysalas, Vijayanagar viceroys, Mysore Wodeyars and Tipu Sultan, it is believed to have enjoyed a lot of importance in the Vijayanagar Empire, while it was the de facto capital of Mysore State under Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan.

The main attraction of this town is the famous Ranganathaswamy Temple, dedicated to Lord Ranganatha, a manifestation of Lord Vishnu. It is regarded as one of the five sacred sites of Vaishanavism, known as Pancharanga Kshetram, the other four being Srirangam, Kumbakonam, Trichy, Indalur and Nellore. Built by Ganga chieftain Tirumalaiah, this temple was in charge of various dynastic rulers in history, accounting for its design being a blend of Hoysala and Vijayanagar architectural styles.

Ranganathaswamy Temple
Ranganathaswamy Temple

Next on the must-visit list is Daria Daulat Bagh, better known as Tipu’s Summer Palace. Dating back to 1778, this palace in teakwood is a beautiful structure located amidst a sprawling garden. A royal mansion of great historic and architectural importance, it is rectangular-shaped and stands on a raised pedestal. The interiors of the palace are extensively decorated with floral patterns and murals depicting portraits, scenes of warfare and durbars. The garden around the palace is a treat to the eyes, and to walk around.

The top floor of the palace has a museum with Tipu’s memorabilia, and a rare collection of costumes, coins, oil paintings and aquatints of historical importance. Not to be missed at the museum is the oil painting ‘Storming of Srirangapattanam’, dating back to 1800, by Sir Robert Ker Porter, depicting the final fall of Srirangapattana on May 4, 1799. The entry to this place is from 9 am to 5 pm, and carries an entry fee.

Wellesley Bridge
Wellesley Bridge

Another place of immense historical value is the Gumbaz, the resting place of Tipu and his family, which is an imposing structure surrounded by a beautifully landscaped garden with flowering plants and trees. With its large domes, minarets, ivory inlaid doors and interiors painted in lacquer with tiger stripes, Gumbaz is a spot worth every tourist’s time. While the remains of Tipu Sultan, his father Hyder Ali, and his mother Fatima Begum are housed inside, the remains of the rest of his family surround the Gumbaz.

A ruler’s remains

When in the historical town of Srirangapatna, there is no way one can miss Tipu’s Fort. Believed to have been built by Timmanna Nayaka of the Vijayanagar empire in 1454 CE, this fort has come under various rulers ranging from the Vijayanagar empire to the Peshwas, Marathas and Wodeyars, before Tipu took over. Tipu is believed to have enlisted the services of French architects to modify the architecture of the fort to keep away foreign invaders.

Inside the fort are Tipu’s Palace, Juma Mosque, Narasimhaswamy and Ranganathaswamy temples, and Bailey’s Dungeon, where Tipu Sultan is supposed to have imprisoned British soldiers. The Juma Mosque here, built on an elevated platform, is also believed to be different from the other mosques in that it doesn’t have a dome, but is two-storied, with two separate staircases leading to the prayer hall.

Water wonders

Being one of the three islands formed by River Cauvery, also known as Dakshina Ganga (Ganga of the South), Srirangapatna has myriad water spots like Gosayi Ghat and Sangama. Gosayi Ghat, at just 4 km away from Srirangapatna, is a scenic splendour that is known for its popularity among filmmakers for outdoor shoots. It is named after the sadhus from North India, known better as gosayis, who have built a temple by the river dedicated to Lord Kashi Vishwanatha. This temple is believed to have been patronised by the Wodeyar king, Mummadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar.

Very close to Gosayi Ghat is Triveni Sangam, the confluence of the rivers Lokapavani, Hemavathi and Cauvery. The Paschimavahini section of Sangama is considered to be very auspicious to immerse the ashes of the departed, and to perform rituals associated with the same.

This is not all. Apart from temples and mosques, Srirangapatna also has churches and Jain basadis which are equally attractive. Worth mentioning here is the European-style church near Tipu palace, built by the French missionary, Abbe Dubois.

With so many attractions in store, Srirangapatna is a testimony to the rich religious, historical, cultural and architectural heritage of its many rulers. So the next time you are looking for an interesting place to spend a day in, why don’t you drive down to Srirangapatna? Trust me, you will not be disappointed!