Why You Should Visit the Summer Palace of Tipu Sultan, One of the Most Powerful Rulers of India

Tipu Sultan was the most feared Indian of his time in Britain. When he died there were jubilant celebrations in Britain, with authors, playwrights and painters creating works to celebrate it. Kate Brittlebank, author of “Tiger: The Life of Tipu Sultan, further wrote that Tipu Sultan was the only Indian ruler who understood the dangers the British posed to India. He fought four wars to oust them from India. In this sense he could be called the first freedom fighter in the Indian subcontinent. When visiting Bangalore, I highly recommend that you visit the summer palace of Tipu Sultan.

It is a peaceful tourist spot in the hustle and bustle of Bangalore.

Despite its location within the extremely busy and chaotic city of Bangalore, Tipu Sultan’s summer palace is peaceful and quiet. We visited on a weekday afternoon and there were only a handful of foreign and local tourists.

The place is easily accessible. You can use any taxi service provider (we downloaded and used Grab). There’s hardly any queue at the ticket counter. Plus you can complete your tour in an hour, giving you ample time to explore other places in the city.

This palace is unique and distinct from most other palaces because the entire palace is made of teak.

The Muslim rulers of the Indian subcontinent were known for their lavish lifestyles and luxurious palaces. The Mughal Emperors had lived in opulence, examples of which include the Fatehpur Sikri and Agra Fort—a UNESCO World Heritage site. Similarly, the Nizams of Hyderabad lived in the grand Chowmahalla Palace.

In comparison, therefore, Tipu Sultan’s wooden palace is small and humble. There are no grand marble carvings inlaid with jewels. There is no courtyard the size of an entire city.

Immaculate gardens on both sides of the main pathway leads you to the double-floored palace. They say Tipu Sultan had a fondness for manicured lawns and greenery. There were a few bushes of roses in full bloom.

Built on a stone plinth, the façade has gigantic fluted pillars in wood with stone bases that support huge wooden beams constituting the structure. Cusped arches and brackets swing off the pillars in typical Indo-Islamic style, painted and polished in two different colours to accentuate the carvings on them. Floral motifs on red surfaces adorn the walls and wooden ceilings of the entire palace. (source)

Tipu Sultan endearingly called his summer palace Rashk-e-Jannat, or the “Envy of Heaven”. Although now dilapidated, it still retains the original elegant teak pillars. Look closely to find fading yet beautiful floral motifs and designs all over the palace.

There is a tiny museum that contains a lot of history and valuable paintings.

The museum gives some interesting insights into the lives and times of Tipu Sultan. It also displays a set of fascinating artefact. Look out for the Mysorean rockets, a replica of Tipu’s Tiger, and Tipu’s grand throne. With a range of nearly two miles, the Mysorean rockets were widely used under Sultan’s rule and posed a big threat to the British army.

Another striking artefact is the replica of Tipu’s Tiger, a rather curious mechanical toy (a life-size wooden effigy) of a tiger mauling a British officer. However, the original toy is part of the collection at Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

An interesting story surrounds the Sultan’s throne. He had vowed to seat himself on a very extravagant throne decked with gold and diamonds, once he defeated the British army. As history would have it, Sultan lost the war, and British dismantled and sold the throne (it was simply too heavy for them to take the throne in its entirety!).

Photography is strictly prohibited in the museum.

Befriend the security guard. If you’re nice to him, he’ll gladly tell you interesting stories about the palace and its former royal occupants.

A young couple climbed up the stairs to the second floor of the palace. While the lady kept looking out for the security staff, the man quickly climbed into one of the balconies for a picture. Now, taking into consideration that this palace is almost 300 years old, most parts are battered and rickety. Therefore, all the balconies are off-limits. I was taking pictures of the pillars on the ground floor when both the security guy and I saw the man posing in the balcony, the lady taking pictures of him. Alarmed, the security immediately asked the guests to leave the balcony.

“We get in trouble when guests don’t follow the rules around here,” he said out loud. Masood and I were the only ones near him so we ended up striking up a conversation. The guy was knowledgeable and he shared so many interesting stories of the palace!

Tipu Sultan was not an outside invader. He was a son of the soil, the third generation of his family born in south India.

A brave warrior, he died on 4 May 1799 while fighting the British forces in the Fourth Anglo-Mysore War. As one of the first Indian kings to have died on the battlefield while defending his kingdom against the Colonial British, he was officially recognized by the Government of India as a freedom fighter.

Tipu Sultan’s Summer Palace Bangalore
Address: Albert Victor Road, Chamrajpet, Bengaluru, Karnataka, 560018, India
Open daily: 8:30 am – 5:30 pm
Tickets: ₹15 per person for Indians and ₹200 per person for Foreign Tourists

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