Srirangapatna is one of Karnataka’s most storied locations, a confluence of trade and culture from the heydays of the Vijaynagar Empire. Its most famous legacy though is the bastion of two great Deccan kings, Hyder Ali and his son, Tipu Sultan. Under Tipu Sultan, the Mysore kingdom reached the heights of its power and expanded aggressively across South India. A visit to present day Srirangapatna, which was the capital of this kingdom, will take visitors back in time to this glorious and bygone age.
The town is an island formed by the waters of the Kaveri River. There are many heritage sights to see in and around Srirangapatna and connoisseurs of history, culture, and architecture never miss this trip when in Karnataka.
Sightseeing at Srirangapatna
The Srirangapatna Fort stands to this day home to a poignant monument that marks the event when one of Karnataka’s greatest warriors fell to the British forces. Besides the obelisk in honour of the fallen, other landmarks in the fort include the Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple and a mosque. The fort’s dungeon where British officers were held is another attraction. The dungeon is referred to as Colonel Bailey’s dungeon.
Daria Daulat Bagh
Nestled in beautifully landscaped gardens, the summer palace of Tipu Sultan or Daria Daulat Bagh is an example of the medieval architecture and opulence of the old Mysore Empire. Built in 1784, the Indo-Sarcenic structures feature a lot of teak furnishings. Visitors can view beautifully orchestrated frescoes and murals which celebrate the many triumphs of the emperor.
Fort Paintings and Museum
There are many paintings in the palace complex. One of the famous paintings includes “The Storming of Seringapatam” by Sir Robert Ker Porter. Many of the paintings vividly depict the now familiar backgrounds of the fort and palace.
The Tipu Sultan Museum is open from 9 to 5 and a good place to get a quick scan of the rich heritage of Srirangapatna. Some of the highlights here include a portrait of Tipu Sultan and sketches of various other dignitaries of his court. The museum also houses an extensive coin collection, along with medals of different makes which commemorated the British victory in the final battle.
The Jama Masjid
Situated in the Fort, the mosque was where Tipu Sultan himself practiced his faith. Highlights of this grand structure include Arabic inscriptions. The two minarets of the mosque are the defining features. A climb of 200 steps to the top of the domed minarets results in a rewarding panoramic view of the surrounding areas.
The Mausoleum of Tipu Sultan
An imposing structure with intricate carvings and a large central dome, the mausoleum of Tipu Sultan also houses the remains of his father Hyder Ali and his mother Fathima Begam. Sitting in the midst of a garden, the Gumbaz, as it is called, has an open verandah with polished pillars. Ivory inlaid doors and carved stone windows are testament to the high levels of workmanship and artistry that was predominant in pre-British Mysore. The tiger stripes which were a favoured pattern of Tipu Sultan adorn the inner walls of a mausoleum while Hyder Ali’s tomb lies in the middle, flanked by the other two.
A Grand Viewpoint
A short distance from the main attractions of Srirangapatna, the Karighatta hill is a favourite haunt for both travellers and locals alike. One can enjoy magnificent views of Mysore and Srirangapatna from the summit of this 3000 feet high landform. Views of the Kaveri and Lokapavani rivers also make this visit worthwhile. You can trek up the hill on stone steps or drive up a pleasant winding road. Aside from the magnificent views, people flock to the hill to visit the famous temple here.
There is no dearth of temples in Srirangapatna town and surrounding areas. One of the most popular ones is the Nimishamba Temple which is dedicated to a re-incarnated avatar of Parvati, the wife of Lord Shiva. The temple sits on the bank of the picturesque Lokapavani River and can be seen from the Karighatta viewpoint.
Colonial Remnants – Garrison Cemetery & Scott’s Bungalow
There are many buildings and structures in Srirangapatna that date back to Colonial times. Visit the Garrison Cemetery where the British fallen of the last battle with Tipu Sultan were laid to rest. The cemetery is located on the banks of the Kaveri River and also includes graves of 80 officers from the Swiss Regiment de Meuron.
Scott’s Bungalow is another colonial landmark of the town. A place that has invited some local myths, the bungalow was the residence of a British officer who faced tragedy and disappeared from the town. Enjoy a visit to this structure, which is nestled amidst a wooded area. Lord Harris’ House is another old colonial bungalow that is a reminder of Srirangapatna’s multi-layered heritage.
A Natural Getaway – Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary
Srirangapatna is also where one can visit one of South India’s most pristine and important habitats for bird species. The Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary is only 3 kms from the main town but is a world apart, a group of islets resulting from a Kaveri embankment built in 1648. More than a 160 birds have been recorded here, making it a nature enthusiast’s haven. During the winter months, up to 40,000 birds migrating from the colder North converge here. Some of the birds here include the painted stork, woolly-necked stork, black-headed ibis, lesser whistling duck, stork-billed kingfisher, cormorant, and heron. The fauna also features freshwater crocodiles and common palm civets. A boat tour is the best way to experience this neck of the woods.
How to Reach Srirangapatna
Srirangapatna is very close to Mysore, which is where all the important bus stations, rail connections and the airport is located. Mysore is 19 kms away and the historic town falls on the busy Bangalore to Mysore route, which makes it a very convenient destination to visit.
A lot of trains from Bangalore that pass through Mysore also stop at Srirangapatna’s railway station. Early trains give you more time to explore. The nearest major railway station is in Mysore.
The closest airport is the Mysore airport which is only 16 kms away. You can get a cab from the airport to Mysore where you have many local transport options to Srirangapatna. The nearest international airport is in Bangalore, 165 kms away on the NH275.
Srirangapatna falls on the Bangalore-Mysore highway and you can hire a cab or drive yourself. You can also catch a bus from either of the two major cities.
The historic region of Mysore is one of the biggest cultural centres of Karnataka. Srirangapatna stands tall to this day, a reminder of some of the most crucial events that shaped the modern state. Blood and glory go side by side, as chronicled in the many tales of warrior kings across the history of humankind. A visit to Srirangapatna is the closest you will get to one such tale. Celebrate the Legacy of Tipu Sultan and immerse yourself in the history of this island town.