Karnataka: Ancient scripts, monuments under threat in Srirangapatna

By Shravan Regret Iyer

Bengaluru: It’s an island home to over 80,000 ancient scripts and  35 historical monuments of  Islamic, Hindu and Christian importance.  But Ganjam, the treasure trove of Srigangapatna, where the Tiger of Mysuru, Tipu Sultan, built his fort,  is falling into ruin thanks to official apathy.

SR Patna story 6
Photo by Shravan Regret Iyer

Over 12,000 families had moved here from Tumakuru district in the time of Tipu, who manufactured weapons on this rocky island enclosed by the river Cauvery, and ideal for military operations. Diamonds, gold and other precious stones were traded here as well.  Over 80,000 manuscripts speak about its fascinating history, as do the many monuments dating back to the period.

Watch: Ganjam, The Treasure Isle, a stop-motion documentary film, with over 4, 500 photographs, on Ganjam suburb of Srirangapatna.

But sadly, not only have some of these monuments collapsed,  others may soon join them too,  seeing how dilapidated they are. In the past, the island was split into two, the fort area, Srirangapatana, where Tipu and his family lived,  and the area outside, Ganjam, that was reserved for his subjects, including soldiers and labourers.  The name Ganjam is derived from the Persian ‘ganj’ meaning treasure trove.

“It’s deplorable that the cemeteries,  dungeons for armours and other monuments are in such a dilapidated condition.  You can see cracks in several of the monuments and the historical scripts are not being maintained properly either. The place needs protection as there is a lot here for the younger generation to learn and research,” said a local enthusiast of the island’s history.

The archaeological department, which is to blame for much of the neglect, has also failed to protect a pigeon house close to the Gumbaz. Of the two pigeon houses built by Tipu Sultan, what remains in one today are only some broken pieces. It is believed that Tipu used pigeons to carry messages and housed them here.


This story was originally published in Deccan Chronicle Apr 19, 2016, edition.