Armoury of Tipu Sultan, Bangalore
Thanks to GoUnesco’s #makeheritagefun event, a bunch of history lovers in Bangalore could participate in heritage walk around the historical monuments of 18th century. This post is 3rd in the series of posts on the walk. A quick look on what was covered before this. We assembled at 8 in the morning at Bangalore Fort. After an hour and half’s tour of the place and a quick breakfast we proceeded to Tipu’s Summer Palace. All of us were so engrossed listening to Mansoor Ali, especially about the exploits of Tipu Sultan. I had read about all these in history classes of school days, wonder why it didn’t seem or sound so interesting then.
The next destination armoury of Tipu Sultan was just 10minutes walk from the Palace. Tipu had built four armouries during his regime in late 18th century. These were lifelines during the long wars he fought against the British. The location of armoury of Tipu Sultan can be traced along the dotted path in the map below. It is in a bylane near Kalasipalyam police station, behind Bangalore Medical College Research Institute, in the heart of KR Market.
These pics for Tex’s Good Fences.
Tipu’s Rockets in 18th Century
To live like a lion for a day is far better than to live for a hundred years like a jackal. ~ Tipu Sultan. And he lived like one till the last day of his life.
Hyder Ali, the 18th century ruler of Mysore, and his son and successor, Tipu Sultan were the first ones to develop and use Mysorean rockets in the war against the British. These ‘missiles’ were fitted with swords. On firing them, the rockets traveled several meters through the air before coming down with edges of the sword facing the enemy. Even before they hit the ground and exploded the swords managed to silence some soldiers. The use of iron tubes for holding the propellant at one end of the sword enabled higher thrust and longer range for the missile (up to 2 km range). This rocket technology was later used to advance European rocketry. Our own Indian scientists Abdul Kalaam and Dr. Gowariker too studied this rocketry during their work on Indian rockets in Indian Space Research Organization.
Interiors of Armoury of Tipu Sultan
This armoury was the most neglected monument till some months back. The area around it taken over by residential buildings and school and the monument itself was turning into dumping ground. Luckily the authorities woke up to the situation in time. Today we get to see a cleaner place, police patrolling the area at nights. Yet, a vital thing like a proper gate is missing. There are no doors to the armoury or a proper fence surrounding it. Anybody can sneak in. A register is maintained to mark the entry and exit of visitors, that’s about it.
The armoury seems submerged below the ground, a staircase leads us down. The entrance to the armoury has no door, the interiors is just a hollow space with dimensions 12ft by 30ft approx. and just one small window for ventilation and light. Another note worthy point about the place is no matter how much it rains water gets drained out quickly through a small hole behind the armoury. Nobody knows where the outlet leads to.
Mansoor Ali has good practical ideas of how the monument can be turned more interesting and must visit place for tourists. The interiors of armoury can be converted to a painting gallery or a place for small exhibitions. A nominal charge for tickets can easily be put to good use like maintenance of the monument.
Mansoor Ali, architect and member of Facebook group Bygone Bangalore, shares a special relationship with the armoury of Tipu Sultan. “My grandmother’s house stood diagonally opposite to it. I was not even born then. My sister Rizwana Banu, who was hardly six or seven years old, used to play with her friends inside the armoury. There was a tunnel linking it to the fort and palace. Once, Rizwana got lost inside the tunnel. My parents were lucky to find her. Finally, the tunnel was closed,” he said.