Tipu Sultan's Summer Palace is a symbol of a forgotten past

In the midst of the most bustling part of the city stands an exquisite historic monument: Tipu Sultan's Summer Palace (Rash-e-Jannat or Envy of the Heavens) built within the Bangalore Fort between 1781 and 1791. While only portions of the fort have been salvaged by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), most of the palace has been restored to its former glory.

The minimalist structure with exquisite frescos painted on walls, teakwood pillars in the balcony, the rooms situated in the four corners of the top floor (considered to be the zenana) and the lush gardens that surround the palace, makes this picturesque place a tourist's haven. And it is helped by its location — the bustling centre of the city.

The structure is symbolic of an era that saw a peak in administration, trade and industry. Many experts, however, also feel that Tipu Sultan has been vastly neglected by historians. “Despite the massive role he played in the freedom struggle, it is sad how he is not acknowledged as a local hero,” says Arun Pai of Bangalore Walks. “It is ironical how tourists seem to appreciate the symbolism of the palace while the city residents are by and large ignorant of it.”

In his memory

The ASI, however, has attempted the monumental task of bringing Tipu back from the pages of history. Even the gardens that surround the palace have been tended to carefully mirror Tipu's masterplan.

Their task is not over. “The busy marketplace leads to an immense amount of pollution which scars the palace. We periodically inspect these changes and chemically conserve the structures,” says T.M. Keshava, Deputy Superintending Archaeologist at the ASI. “After all, this is where the city really grew from.”

For a modest entrance fee of Rs. 5, visitors get to see the palace and check out, in a little museum, paintings of Tipu Sultan and Hyder Ali, swords from Tipu's period and a model of the famous Tipu's Tiger automaton depicting a tiger mauling a British soldier complete with sound effects.