Monuments of Srirangapatna Island Town
Permanent Delegation of India to UNESCO
Srirangapattana Taluk, Mandya district, Karnataka state
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Srirangapattana located in Mandya district of Karnataka state in the course of River Cauvery. The island measures approximately 5 kilometers east to west and 1.5 kilometers south to north. It is well connected by Air, Rail and Road network. The nearest airport is Mysore and Kempegowda International Airport Bangalore. Approximately in the centre of the Island state High way cross over to connect Mysore and Bangalore.
The island has an area of about 7.2 square kilometers. Near this town, river Cauvery divides into two branches called North and South Cauvery creating the central land mass as an Island. This Island is called Srirangapattana after the presiding deity of the place Sriranganatha. A little upstream, the river Cauvery deviates to west before it creates the island and called Paschimavahini. It is a well-known place of pilgrimage and the people of Southern Karnataka visit the place to perform the final rites of the deceased. There is a check dam in the dividing part of this river which was built by Ranadhira Kanthirava Narasaraja and excavated a channel called Bangaradoddi Nale. For a short distance it runs along the South bank and irrigates the southern part of the island right up to Sangam or Lalbagh. The fort is situated in the western part of the island. Except Dariya Daulath Bagh, Gumbaz and a few other monuments constructed after 1799 are situated outside the fort; the major monuments are within the fort area.
According to the local tradition, the great sage Gautama lived here for a while and worshipped the lord Sri Ranganatha Swamy. Even today, a small island to the west of the main island in the course of river Cauvery is called Gautama Kshetra. The local people associate this place with sage Gautama and says that here in a natural cave sage Gautama did the penance and lord Sri Ranganatha blessed him.
According to another tradition the principal deity of Sri Ranganatha Swamy temple of Srirangapattana was built by one Devadasi namely Hambi. This is referred in one of the works of Timmakavi, namely Paschima Rangakshetra Mahatmam.
The history of Srirangapattana commences from the 9th Century CE, as revealed in the record of a Ganga chief namely, Tirumalaiah. The record is dated 894 CE, which credits the Ganga chieftain namely Tirumalaiah, founded two temples - one dedicated to Sri Ranganatha Swamy and the other to his tutelary deity Tirumala Deva, and named the place as Srirangapura or Srirangapattana.
A record of Sri Ranganatha Swamy temple states that grant was given by the Hoysala king Ballala II to the Brahmanas and created the Tiruvaranga Narayana Chaturvedi Mangala at Srirangapattana.
There are references to state that Udayaditya, the brother of Vishnuvardhana, built the town in 1120 CE. The fort at Srirangapattana was built by Hoysala Udayaditya brother of Hoysala Vishnuvardhana around 1120 C E. In all probability this could be the fact. After the fall of Talakadu, it was necessary to build strong military reinforcement to stop the recapturing of this region by the Tamil forces.
After the fall of Hoysalas the Srirangapattana region came under the sway of the Vijayanagara Empire. The works on the history of Mysore, states that Timmanna Hebbar the descendants of Nagmangala chiefs, visited the court of Devaraya at Vijayanagara and got an order to build the fort at Srirangapattana. Then, he was designated as Danayaka and ruled the region as feudatory of the Vijayanagara Empire. The descendants of this Hebbar family of Nagamangala seems to have continued to rule the region until the Ummattur chiefs rose to power and annexed it to their territory.
The Srirangapattana city along with its adjacent region was captured by the chiefs of Ummattur and they strengthened the fortresses. This might have happened during the reign of Immadi Raya of Ummattur or earlier. This is very evident in the light of Venkataramanayya’s surmise. He surmised that the sons of Immadi Raja of Ummattur appear to have divided their ancestral estate. The elder kept the family seat Ummattur with independent territory and the younger was ruling from Srirangapattana and its neighbourhood.
Srirangapattana was attacked by Salva Narasimha Nayaka (1485-1503 A.D.) the king of Vijayanagara who defeated the Ummattur chiefs and subjugated the Srirangapattana fort. Later on the Vijayanagara king Krishnaraya also attacked this fort to subdue the rebellious chiefs of Ummattur. Krishnaraya’s attack on this region concluded between 21st January 1511 and 3rd November 1511. He also appointed a governor at Srirangapattana province.
After the attack of Krishnaraya of Vijayanagara on Srirangapattana, it became the seat of the Viceroy of Vijayanagara kingdom. From then on, the fort was ruled by the viceroys of Vijayanagara kingdom up to 1610 CE, when Raja Wodeyar took over its possession.
In 1610 C. E., when Thirumala Raya, the Viceroy of Karnataka Empire stationed at Srirangapattana, the ruler of Mysore, namely Raja Wodeyar, invaded the fort and captured it. Some sources say that the capture of Srirangapattana by Raja Wodeyar was without military action. According to some reliable sources Raja Wodeyar had an official order Rajanirupa to occupy the vice regal seat at Srirangapattana. In 1610 CE Raja Wodeyar captured the vice regal seat of Vijayanagara at Srirangapattana and started his rule as a subordinate king of the Vijayanagara kingdom. An inscription of Raja Wodeyar states this fact.
From then onwards, it continued as the capital of Mysore till 1799 CE, when the English captured it. Between 1610 and 1799 CE, Srirangapattana was busy with political activities, especially during the period of Haidar Ali and Tipu Sultan, i.e., between 1761 and 1799 CE, it was the centre of South Indian political activity.
The town is well-protected by the river Cauvery on all sides. The fort is confined to the Western part of the island and it has an area of about 5 square kms. Since, it is surrounded by the river Cauvery the fort may be classified under Jaladurga class of forts (See Aerial View). Though, the fortification of Srirangapattana started at the time of the Hoysalas it gained prominence at the time of the Vijayanagara Empire. Srirangapattana town was further fortified during the period of Vijayanagara. The evidences prove that in the latter half of 15th century Timmanna Hebbar rebuilt the fort. Apart from this, the fort wall consists of prisons along the inner fortification. There are six magazines or Armouries located between the gates.
There are square or rectangular or oblong bastions, guarded by batteries. Each bastion is named after some important person, e.g., the bastion above the dungeon was called Sultan Bateri and a bastion in the South-East corner of the fort, is called Kalegaudana Bateri. In the absence of epigraphical evidences, it is very difficult to identify the names of the bastions.
The fort walls of Srirangapattana are strong. The first and second enclosure walls from the outer side were protected by stone casing. These walls are very thick and thickness is measured in meters. The third or innermost wall is designed differently. It is designed like a right angle triangle. The outer face is protected by stone wall and in the inside mud ramping is done. It has a considerable slope to move cannons to the top. At the top of the inside fort wall there is a 2 to 3 m. wide platform made of natural pebbles and lime mortar and a parapet wall with provision to use cannons and long rifles. These portions of the fort walls were built of brick and lime mortar.
Srirangapattana fort is famous for its splendor and strength. Probably it was a mud fort at the beginning. Then early ruler of the Wodeyar family and in 1654 CE, Kanthirava Narasaraja had strengthened the fort and made provisions within the fort to store the essentials for the public and army for emergency.
Tipu Sultan renovated the fort and constructed some gateways probably with the help of French engineers. He started the work of renovation of fort on Tuesday, the 9th day of the month of Khusravi of the year Zabrajad in 1219 Mauladi, which corresponds to 1791 CE.
The fort of Srirangapattana exhibits the best defense features like fort design, bastions and fortification method. It is very interesting to note that the fort has three man-made moats in the southern and eastern directions, whereas in the North and West, it has only two man-made and one natural moat. In other words the river Cauvery functions as the third moat in the North and West. The first fortification in the North and West was erected just on the bank of river Cauvery, and damaged due to floods and human vandalism.
The fort was one of the unconquerable forts of India. A military authority of the 19th century (1888 CE) who visited Srirangapattana opined that it was the second strongest fort in India.
The fort has six gateways and among them two gates are very important, namely Aneya Bagilu or Anekote Bagilu which means Elephant Gate. It is situated in the Southern walls of the fort and the Bangalore or Ganjam Gate is situated in the Eastern enclosure walls of the fort. The relevance as well as a brief reference to Gateways is emphasized.
The Mysore Gate or Elephant Gate
It is known as Anekote Bagilu in the local tongue. It was constructed in 1791 CE, by Tipu Sultan to enter the city on the back of elephant, sitting in the howdah. Actually the entrance had three Gates, each one in three enclosure walls. All the three gates had proper links to pass through. These gates were made of stone, brick and lime mortar. They measure 5.50 m in height, 3.75 m in width and 14.75 m. in length. The gateway in the central fort wall which was badly damaged was repaired in the recent past by the then Government, providing small key- stone arches.
The Bangalore Gate
The Bangalore Gate, formerly known as Ganjam Gate, is also designated as the Elephant Gate. All the three fort walls have a gate, with a considerable height to pass through, sitting on the back of an elephant in a howdah. It is built of stone, brick and lime mortar. Now it is used as the main entrance to the town.
Apart from the Gates, the fort wall is also known for the creation of dungeon in those days to keep the most wanted war captives. In the Northern and North-eastern side of the fort wall, there are dungeons named after Col. Bailey and Inman respectively.
Colonel Bailey’s Dungeon
On the Northern side of the Srirangapattana temple, in the fort wall, there is an oblong bastion in which heavy battery was kept and it is called Sultan Bateri. Below the bastion, there is a dungeon which is not visible to any passerby. It measures about 30.50 meters in length and 12.20 meters in width. It is designed with vaulted roof and constructed using brick and lime mortar. In the Eastern, Northern and Western walls there are fixed stone slabs with holes, to which the chains of the prisoners were tied. In it many English war prisoners like Col. Bailey, Captain Baird, Col. Braithwaite, Sampson, Frazer, Lindsay and Captain Rulay were imprisoned by Tipu Sultan. Since Col. Bailey died on 13th November 1782 in the dungeon after a prolonged illness, it is named after him.
At the Lalbagh, to the east of the entrance there is a monument erected in memory of Col. William Bailey. This monument was erected in 1816 CE, by his nephew Lieut. Col. John Bailey, Resident at the court of Lucknow. This structure has an inscription stating the purpose of the erection and the date.
In the North-East corner of the fort in the central fort wall, there is a structure with battery guard on its top. The structure was discovered by Mr. Thomas Inman, an engineer in 1895, which was named after him. It is a low arch structure constructed with brick and lime mortar, which is 13.75 meters in length and 9.75 meters in width. It resembles the Bailey’s Dungeon. It is said that the prisoners were kept under guard here even after the fall of Tipu. The Maratha chief Dhondia Vagh was one of the important persons imprisoned here. This is situated very close to the fort that was destroyed in the war of 1799 which is called Bidda Kote. The visitor can reach this point passing through this monument area which links to the ancient bridge which connects the island with the mainland.
ASI Protected Monuments List
Ancient Palace site and Remains, Sri Ranganatha Svami Temple, Srirangapattana, Sri Kanthirava Statue in Narasimha Temple, Srirangapattana, Obelisk Monuments and Fort walls near the Breach, Colonel Bailey's Dungeon, Thomas Inman's Dungeon Tippu Palace-Lal Mahal, Spot where Tipu's Body was found, Masjid-E-Ala, Daria Daulat Bagh, Gumbaz containing tomb of Tipu Sultan
State Archaeology Protected Monuments List
Srirangapattana Fort and Mote around the fort, Magazine House (Maddinamane)
Mirsaddiq Palace, Hanging Bridge (Thugusetuve), Vijayanagara Viceroy’s Palace remains (Thuppada Kola), Mumudi Krishnaraja Wodiyar Birth Place, Webb's Monument Krishnamurti's Bungalow, Obelisks at Ganjam (Ranagambha)
Abbe Dubois Church by CSI Mysore, Garrison Cemetery,
Among the above ASI and state Archaeology protected monument several of them are related to the defence architucture which has developed during the different stages of the development of the town in the historical period.
Justification of Outstanding Universal Value
Although Srirangapattana is a centre of great historic, religious and cultural significance and one of the most important centres of pilgrimage in South India, its OUV lies in its representation of different developmental stages of defence architecture in Hindu and Islamic traditions ranging from the Hoysalas, the Vijayanagara, the post-Vijayanagara, and the Islamic traditions introduced in the period of Haidar and Tippu Sultan. This fort was subjugated only four times; twice by the kings of Vijayanagara and the English. This fact indicates the impregnability of the fort. It is the last flicker of the South Indian Defence Architecture.
Under continuous occupation since 12th Century CE, Srirangapattana displays a wide array of architectural influences that manifest themselves in unique features and components visible across the myriad of buildings across the property. Further, its setting as an island in the midst of River Cauvery is extremely picturesque and intrinsic to the cultural values of the property.
Criterion (i): The group of monuments at Srirangapattana represents masterpieces of creative human genius in the form of assimilating the architectural and decorative elements of Indian, Indo-Islamic and British styles that had evolved till 16th century and achieving a balance between them for presenting perfectly balanced models of the late medieval period.
Criterion (ii): They exhibit an important interchange in the development and co-existence of the architectural forms, divergent beliefs and styles over a limited span of time (between 16th to 19th centuries) within a limited area of an otherwise insignificant island.
Criterion (iii): The group bears an exceptional testimony to the cultural and artistic traditions associated with the frequent political and socio-religious upheavals that the area/ region witnessed during the period from 16th to 19th centuries AD, as enunciated in the contemporary archival materials.
Criterion (iv): Thus the present group reflects an outstanding example of an ensemble of different types and styles of architectural models many of which are not to be seen in the subsequent periods.
Statements of authenticity and/or integrity
The authenticity of form and design of the structures proposed for inclusion in the tentative list, are maintained in full through the surviving edifices vis-a-vis their respective location within the complexes, individual structures and the integral link of water and vegetation to architecture. The authenticity is further gets buttressed by a variety of Hindu and Islamic rituals continuously being practiced from the days of the existence of the very structures. A wealth of epigraphical data, authentic contemporary mural paintings of great historical and artistic significance and a myriad of movable cultural properties housed and in the historical building –Dariya Daulat Bagh add immensely to the authenticity. The various attributes of the edifices-including its structures, sculptures, ornamentation, mural paintings and decorative motifs, are maintained in their original forms and material. The natural scenario and the lay out pattern of the Islamic structures are also maintained in their original geographical settings.
All the individual structures/temples proposed are either protected under the National Framework of India by the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (Amendment and Validation) Act (2010) and its Rules (2011) or the KHAMASR Act 1961. Under the said Central Act, a zone 100 meters outside the monument and a further zone 200 meters outside the monument constitute, respectively, prohibited and regulated zones for development or other similar activities that may have adverse effects on the Outstanding Universal Value of the property.
The boundaries of the nominated property encompass the attributes necessary to represent the Outstanding Universal Value of this ensemble. Within the protected extent of the property, its surviving structures, as well as the dislodged/excavated remains preserved in-situ represent the quintessential qualities of architectural form, design and embellishments. Furthermore, the protected zone includes all areas that have the potentiality to reveal any unexplored archaeological remains that may possibly enhance the understanding of the property’s Outstanding Universal Value. Identified and potential threats to the integrity of the edifice mainly include development pressure, modernization and urban growth affecting the environment of the monument; vehicular traffic; tourism pressure: regular increase in the number of tourists; natural disasters: local demographic growth.
All conservation programmes of the Central Protected Monuments are undertaken by the Archaeological Survey of India through its national, regional and local strata of officials/representatives. Similarly, the Directorate of Archaeology and Museums, Govt. of Karnataka, through its official hierarchy, takes care of the State Protected Monuments including the Fort. There are no specific or comprehensive management related plans regarding safety, environment, master-planning, environmental development and tourism. Sustaining the Outstanding Universal Value of the property over time will require continuing the structural and material conservation of the structures from time to time as may be deemed essential, establishing a stronger functional integration of local and central authorities including addressing the identified threats related to development pressure, tourism pressure, natural disasters, and local population growth.
• The authorship of the ASI protected monuments are governed and protected under the act of The Ancient monuments and Archaeological sites and remains Act-1958 and Rules 1959 and subsequent amendments that were enforced by the respective Government.
• The authorship of the State protected monuments are governed and protected under the act of The Karnataka Ancient and Historical monuments and Archaeological sites and remains Act-1961 and Rules 1965 and subsequent amendments that may be enforced by the respective Government.
• The conservation of the monuments is carried out under the guidelines of ASI and the state Manuals and practices followed in the earlier period.
• The ancient skills and methods of building and the materials are strictly followed without altering the original design, elevation and plan.
Comparison with other similar properties
The group of monuments of Srirangapattana as a whole is incomparable with any of the sites/ properties on the World Heritage List. However, it could be compared partially with the Hampi World Heritage Site (15th–16th century AD, C.241) since the original town plan and the famous Ranganatha Swamy temple and other temples follow and share the same architectural pattern and grandeur. The Islamic structures here are comparable to the Deccan Sultanate Architecture, especially of the Adil Shahis of Bijapur. The Fort, along with its peripheral/ accessory units like Gateways and Dungeons, though of modest proportions, is a rare and unique example. The Dariya Daulat Bagh or Summer Palace, though imbibes the typical char-bagh pattern of Mughal gardens, is a unique specimen.