Srirangapatna is a river island located around 15 kms away from Mysore and is a place of historical and religious value. It draws its name from the famous Ranganathswamy temple dedicated to Lord Ranganatha. Srirangapatna was important for the rulers of the Vijaynagara Empire but once the power of kingdom declined, the rulers of the Mysore took Srirangapatna under their control.
With the rise of Hyder Ali and later Tipu Sultan, Srirangapatna became the capital of Mysore. Both Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan were against British expansion in India and hence were involved in four Anglo Mysore war with the latter. Srirangapatna was the place where Tipu Sultan fought the fourth Anglo Mysore war which eventually resulted in his defeat and death.
The town is home to numerous monuments associated with Tipu Sultan. Amongst them is the famous Summer Palace of Tipu Sultan, also known as Dariya Daulat Palace or the ‘Sea of Wealth’.
Dariya Daulat Palace
Dariya Daulat Palace or Tipu Sultan’s Summer Palace stands on the bank of Kaveri River and is located outside the fort of Srirangapatna. It was started by Hyder Ali, though the construction was completed by Tipu Sultan in 1784.
At first glance Tipu Sultan’s Summer Palace does not exactly leaves a favourable impression. Actually, it doesn’t give any impression at all and this for a very simple reason. The palace is covered in green cane curtain. Standing at the main entrance gate past the ticket counter what you see is a path, flanked by gardens, that leads to the covered palace – not at all giving an idea as to what the palace actually looks like from outside or what is inside. The openness and the greenery are there to see and enjoy though. It is a comfortable walk to the palace.
Right before you enter the palace, there are cannons and cannon balls at display. The security lady at the entrance informs visitors that photographing the palace is fine (though without flash) but clicking yourself in the palace is not. No selfies.
The Beautiful Paintings of Dariya Daulat Palace
Stepping inside Tipu Sultan’s Palace is like a revelation. One is almost immediately taken aback by what is there to see. The reason for the palace been so covered becomes quite evident. Huge murals are painted on the corridor walls and they are a real beauty. These murals are incredibly elaborate and so are the description provided for them. They take you on a walk down the history lanes.
There is a painting depicting the procession of Nizam of Hyderabad; another one illustrates Colonel Bailey’s defeat in the Second Anglo Mysore war by Tipu Sultan. You can also see the war procession of Tipu Sultan and his father Hyder Ali on the sides.
Moving further, you come across portrait paintings of Tipu Sultan’s contemporaries. These include paintings of Rani of Chittor, Raja of Tanjore, Raja of Benaras, the Madakeri Nayaks of Chitradurga and Krishnaraj Wodeyar III. Without doubt, these murals are the highlights of Dariya Daulat Palace. They keep you captivated all through and it is not as if the paintings are merely on the walls, rather the entire area, every inch of it is covered in paintings. Look anywhere – the pillars, the ceiling, and the arches, the canopied balconies – everything is beautifully painted in floral and other patterns.
Even the interior of the palace is no exception. The palace has two levels but the upper level is inaccessible. Nonetheless, the stunning paintings on it are visible from below. The colourfully painted canopied balconies look absolutely fascinating.
The Museum Displays
Since the palace is also a museum, there are exhibits inside and a major portion of them again are paintings and sketches. Through them, important historical events and people are depicted. There is one painting depicting the storming of Srirangapatna and another one showing the final effort and fall of Tipu Sultan. Yet another painting shows the surrender of two sons of Tipu Sultan after his defeat. There are line drawing sketches, mostly done by Thomas Hickey in 1801, of Tipu’s relatives, soldiers, associates as well as his sons.
Other than the paintings, the museum also displays weapons – different kinds of pistols, daggers and swords. There are coins issued by Tipu Sultan and Hyder Ali, silk dress of Tipu Sultan, Persian manuscript books, British commemorative medals, small brass cannon, silver bowls gifted by Tipu to Ranganath Swamy Temple and furniture from the era. There is also a model of Srirangapatna.
Other Attractions of Srirangapatna
Dariya Daulat Palace is not a big place and can thus be covered in short time of an hour or so. However, it is recommended to go around and explore the other monuments of the town as they offers a more elaborate idea about the past of the area. Also it makes the time and effort invested in travelling to Srirangapatna more worthwhile.
The first of these is Tipu’s Death Place. It marks the spot where Tipu Sultan died fighting the British.
Ahead is Colonel Bailey’s Dungeon. Tipu Sultan imprisoned British officer Colonel Bailey here post his definitive defeat in the Second Anglo Mysore War. The lower level is the dungeon area and behind the Kaveri river flows. The prisoners were tied here with chains and submerged in water up till waist to torture them.
Sri Ranganathswamy Temple was initially built by the rulers of Ganga dynasty and later expanded by the successive rulers of various dynasties – the Hoysalas, Vijaynagar, Wodeyars and Hyder Ali. The presiding deity of the temple is Lord Vishnu in form of Lord Ranganath in a reclining pose. The temple stays close during 1.30 – 4 P.M, so time accordingly.
Then there is the Gumbaz, the place where the cenotaphs of Tipu Sultan, his father – Hyder Ali, his mother – Fakr-Un-Nisa and his other relatives are enshrined. The monument stands amidst huge gardens.
It will take you around 2-3 hours at least to cover all the main places and more if you want to explore the lesser known ones and go around the town a bit. However, if running short of time, a visit to the Summer Palace of Tipu Sultan is also a great option. The murals and exhibits there reveal a lot from the past.