Rocket court back in focus

It has been identified as the Tipu Sultan’s rocket launching pad in the Srirangapatna Fort.

Updated - March 29, 2016 12:42 pm IST

Published - August 02, 2015 03:03 am IST - MYSURU:

A courtyard identified as Tipu Sultan’s rocket launching pad in the Srirangapatna Fort — which had got ‘missile man’ and former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam to take special interest to inspect it — looks set to be the new focus of conservation efforts of the State Archaeology Department.

The place is enclosed by high walls and ensconced within the Srirangapatna Fort.

Historians say it served as the rocket court or launch pad from where Hyder Ali and his son Tipu Sultan would fire the missiles in their battles against the British.

Commissioner of Archaeology and Heritage C.G. Betsurmath told The Hindu that he would visit the site to ascertain the present condition, take up some conservation and development work in view of the special interest evinced towards it by Kalam.

Historians aver that Hyder Ali, who ruled the Mysore kingdom from 1761-1782 and later Tipu Sultan, whose regime lasted till 1799, effectively used what is reckoned to be a prototype rocket against the British.

Paintings

A few paintings at Dariya Daulat Bagh (Tipu’s Summer Palace in Srirangapatna) depict such scenes. A specimen of it is preserved in the Royal Artillery Museum, Woolwich, England.

In view of Srirangapatna’s association with rockets and missiles, Kalam was keen on its preservation and development. At his behest, senior DRDO scientist A. Sivathanu Pillai (who headed the Indo-Russian BrahMos missiles company) visited the site in June 2006 and studied the place, including the adjoining ammunition store.

He had interacted with the staff of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and State Archaeology Department.

Some efforts were made to take up restoration works but there was no further progress. Subsequently, another senior DRDO official, W. Selvamurthy, also visited the spot and suggested establishing a mini- museum to showcase the country’s military heritage. But it, too, has not taken off.

R. Gopal, former Director, Department of Archaeology and Museums, said the place had been neglected by both the State and the Centre.

Encroachments

Local children played shuttle badminton there for some time. It lacked an approach road while there had been encroachments in recent years.

“If the place is not yet protected, I will take steps to get it declared as a protected monument,” said Dr. Betsurmath. “Once that is secured it can be conceived as a suitable exhibition or museum,” he added.

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