Walk around the fort

As part of ‘The Tiger comes to Town’ project taken up by the Centre for Public History, Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology, in association with the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), the students of Srishti conducted a guided walk around Bangalore fort.

The appeal lay in the fact that the guides were not intimidating scholars, but approachable young students.

The visitors seemed keen to absorb the information offered to them, as the guides pointed out features of the fort — the iron gates, the temple at the entrance or the motifs on walls.

Interestingly, of the 11 students involved in the project, only two are from Bangalore. A student Nikita Biyani said, “Before this, my engagement with history was confined to school history books. I knew that there existed a Bangalore fort, but I hadn’t been to it. I had no idea about anything in this city, but now, I feel like I know it inside out!”

Others also discovered the Bangalore Fort as a result of the project: “I’ve lived in Bangalore all my life, but I still knew very little about it. I realised how important it is to know where one’s roots are. Each of us is a product of our history in many ways, after all,” said Spandana Sridhar.

With the help of the ASI, the students had the rare opportunity of entering and examining every nook of the fort in detail. For instance, they’ve even been inside the dungeon — a 4 ft x6 ft room with a slit of just a few inches for light to enter.

Several versions

For Uma Sharma, history can only become interesting if told in the form of stories. “I’ve never been that keen on history or historical places. But having talked to local residents and historians, I realised that each one has their own version of the story they claim to be the truth. This in itself was fascinating.”

Spandana believes that art and history are not very different from each other. “Art is a reflection of life; a series of artists’ interpretations. History, too, is not about facts but about the interpretations of events.”

The message throughout the show seemed to be to encourage people to discover things for themselves. As Spandana put it, “One must realise that one should not judge figures of history — Tipu or any others. They are all quite complex like us and there aren’t really clear markers of good or bad.”

The Centre for Public History plans on holding another session of ‘The Tiger comes to Town’ in December, in English and Kannada.

Through history’s shadows

As part of ‘The Tiger comes to Town’ project, Srishti’s students also performed a shadow play. Held on the premises of the Bangalore fort, the show seamlessly blended the spirit of both Dasara and Rajyotsava, highlighting a few aspects of the fort in relation to the significance it held for Tipu Sultan, ‘the Tiger’, as well as for Bangalore’s residents.

The project was undertaken with the aim of bridging the gap between the residents and local history, and in store for the audience was an innovative, engaging rendering of history from two centuries ago.

About 10 minutes long, the show provided a compact introduction to Tipu’s time. The narration revealed that the Bangalore fort and its siege were crucial during Tipu’s reign, as it meant control of the prosperous pete area, which was abundant with food and other provisions.

The sound effects put together by the students were most appealing, particularly at the part where bits of the fort crumble as the cannons sound. The sound and action did seem out of step at some points, but not to the extent of losing coherence.

The children in the audience stayed on to watch the replays of the show through the day.

Keywords: Bangalore fort