27 December, 2007

Lal Mahal -- Tipu's palace -- Srirangapattana

A short distance from Water Gate was the Lal Mahal, one of Tipu’s palaces. The British desccribed this palace as "very handsome". It had a regal audience hall or the durbar hall with three rows of magnificient pillars supporting a roof two stories above, a library and zenana. The palace also had sophisticated underground piping. It is said that Tipu had chained four tigers near its entrance. Col Wellesley destroyed lal mahal after the seige of Srirangapattana.

Could these flight of steps have led to the zenana?

It is said that in Tipu’s large zenana were, in addition to purchased slaves from such places as Istambul and Georgia, two sisters of the Raja of Coorg and a niece of none other than Purnaiya, who was Tipu’s Diwan http://www.organiser.org/dynamic/modules.php?name=Content&pa=showpage&pid=152&page=13

The zenana could have also been where Tipu's body was set after the British killed him in the last battle of Srirangapattana. Henry Singleton has painted this imaginary portrait. Moorish columns and archways form the dark scene and sleeping veils hang down from the ceiling. Tipu Sultan's body lies on a diwan, limp and robed. His arm hanging down lifeless, his head lolled back and only recognisable by its distinctive curled moustache. Women in diaphanous French empire style gowns surround the body in various poses of distress: one kneels and kisses his feet, with her back to the viewer; another stands with arms outstretched and open-mouthed head thrown back, in a pose that suggests the image of a maiden wailing for her demon lover. Two distraught young children in white gowns, clearly the hostage princes stand at Tipu's head; other Mysore attendants, in poses of distress or indifference, stand in the shadows.

Tipu's wives and children, and over 800 women from the royal zenana, were transported from Srirangapattana to Madras (present day Chennai) shortly after the capital fell to Baird's troops. They were all then imprisoned at Vellore Fort that was surrounded by moat filled with alligators of a very large size.

Ghulam Mohammed, Tipu Sultan's oldest and only surviving son, wrote a passage to his keepers in 1854 that revealed how very far both the Sultan's family and the British empire had traveled since the Romantic and revolutionary days of the 1780s, before Cornwallis, before Wellesley, and before the storming of Srirangapattana:

In the year 1799 AD, my father, the once powerful sovereign of the South of India (may his tomb be sanctified), fell subdued by the force of the invincible arms of Great Britain. With his downfall fled the greatness of his family, and the glory of his house was extinguished; but if in his wisdom, an Almighty Providence thought proper to crush him, I, his now only surviving son, can praise that One and only Being, who, in his bounty, has also thought fit to vouchsafe to us such merciful conquerors. I can now, with a sincere and true heart, offer up prayers for the safety and good health of her Majesty, our most Gracious Queen Victoria, and I can bless the Prophet, on whom be peace, that successive Sovereigns of her mighty Empire have entrusted the Government of this country, and the care of Britain's fallen foes and their descendants, to that just and even upright body, the Honourable the Court of Directors."


Anish Bhandarkar said...

casy !

I am Anish Bhandarkar... u have echoed my thoughts so much.. i too am interested in history and all its mysteries !

Tipu interests me the most among indian rulers... i have explored most of his monuments,, every piece of rock in srirangapatna, and even the inaccessible hidden armouries in bangalore !

Do visit my orkut profile and take a look at those :)

Anish Bhandarkar said...

by the way,, the ASI has prohibited the entry of public inside Lal mahal compound..
how did u manage to get in !

Casey said...

Hi Anish,

Lets just say that the guard on that particular day was very generous and allowed us to go after learning about my passion for History :). I have managed to get into closed building / museums by talking to the guards there and letting them know why I want to get in :). I have managed to even click photographs in places where photography is prohibited.

Anish Bhandarkar said...

Hi Casy !

did u speak in kannada to the guards? r u a localite? sigh.. i should have argued a bit, wit the lone guard guarding Lal Mahal :-)
did u read abt the auction of one of the 8 golden tiger heads of tipu's throne? happened in april 09..

Anish Bhandarkar said...

guess wat. i emailed the London auction agency person, and requested some exclusive snaps of the auction items.. they werent put up on websites.. Julian obliged !
i had told him abt my idea to build a Tipu website to spread awareness..

give me your emailid.. i'l mail u those.

Dare Nabi Par... said...

This is SK Mohammed Mansoor akmal....

I like tipusultan because he was Great patriot he kept mortgage his kids... and he is The first freedom fighter of our india.....
He fought alone with british.. Nobody help him if someone help him on that time no one have guts to rule our india... he eat 62 bullets on his neck from britishers.... he alone fight with 2000 soldiers of british army in his fort .britishers lock from outside to kill him. he fight up to death wish....
for whom he fought... for indian know one know that...
I love you tippusultan... i like you very much. In my routine life reading are watching about tippu i cant control my tears

Thanks and regards
Sk Mohammed mansoor akmal

Anonymous said...

Its sad and unfortunate that this great freedom fighter Tipu Sultan is not given his due in Indian history. The cursed British will never ever recover from all the destruction they caused all over the world. The story of the destruction of Tipu and his palaces and his army brings tears to my eyes.

A true Indian, he loved his country and was able to see through the nasty, exploitative and oppressive nature of the colonialists. He is one of my greatest heroes.


Unknown said...

Yes your words are more than true we realize more when we we visit his house where he lived with his family