Located at the heart of old Bangalore City in Kalasipalya is Tipu’s Summer Palace. It lies hidden among the urban chaos but is unaffected by its surroundings. Tipu used this as his summer residence from 1791 onward till his death. It truly is a ‘summer’ palace because as soon as I stepped into the palace, I was greeted by a soothing breeze which accompanied me throughout my visit. The palace was commenced in 1781 by Hyder Ali and was completed by Tipu Sultan in 1791.
At first glance, the palace doesn’t look like one. It does not have a magnificent façade or intimidating domes. If you expect it to look like the Mysore Palace or even the Dariya Daulat Bagh you will be disappointed. Most of the palace is built with teak wood and has beautiful Islamic Arches similar to those in Dariya Daulat Bagh. It is a two level structure and is adorned with a number of pillars, columns and balconies. The palace has a very open feel to it. There are huge halls open to the well maintained gardens and have balconies overlooking them. There is ample natural light throughout and has an airy atmosphere.
The ground floor has been converted to a museum. Many copies of pictures adorn the walls. The picture of Tipu’s hexagonal throne caught my attention. Tipu himself designed the throne which was supposedly coated with gold and was bejewelled with the navaratnas. But Tipu vowed to never ascend it till he defeated the British. After the death of Tipu, the British Administration dismantled the throne and auctioned in parts since it was too expensive for a single person to buy it in entirety! Another attraction is the replica of Tipu’s toy tiger. The original one is presently in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. The mechanical toy represents a tiger assaulting a British man which is a symbol of Tipu’s hatred for the British. There are small niches throughout the palace which are decorated with beautiful floral motifs. Even the walls are painted with geometrical designs which look like wallpapers but they will soon fade into oblivion. The upper floor is empty and you can just walk around filling in the empty spaces with your imagination.
When I visited the palace, I was lucky enough to see Tipu’s blood stained robes – the one found on his dead body, his own Koran and other personal belongings of his which were specially displayed.
What struck me was the simplicity of the palace. There is no show of wealth and no unnecessary waste of resources. We may call it a ‘palace’ but it was just Tipu’s summer residence. While most palaces intimidate me, this one felt homely, after all it was someone’s home!
This article was published in Spectrum, Deccan Herald on 29th May 2012. DH Article