armoury runs to seed
He is fondly remembered as the radiant patriot, an epitome
of religious tolerance and a ruler of great self-esteem, who
single-handedly fought the British and was a nightmare to
Memories of this great martyr are only too familiar, now
that the Tipu Sultan death bicentenary is on. Eloquent speeches
are being made on Tipu's strength and valance. Cultural
programmes and exhibitions are being organised in his honour,
in the presence of ministers, MPs and cine artists.
Yet, the dignitaries and ministers caught up in these frenzied
activities are blissfully unaware of one of the many contributions
of Tipu Sultan - the world famous armoury in Kalasipalyam
behind Bangalore Medical College.
This armoury, which
once stood in all its
splendour and glory, and housed
huge quantities of ammunition, gun
powder, muskets, rockets and missiles,
that inflicted heavy losses on the British army, is now
in a state of ruin and neglect, and is a den for pimps
and prostitutes. Local counselors
have also considered converting this armoury into a gymkhana.
It is encroached on three sides by housing complexes.
This armoury has been blocked from public view by a Corporation
Nursery School and a transformer. "Tipu Sultan was a person
of undaunted adventurous spirit. Under his leadership, the
Mysore army proved to be a school of military science,"
says Prof.B.Sheik Ali, an authority on the history of Tipu
Ironically, the armoury bears scant resemblance to an archeological
monument. It certainly does not look like a force to reckon
with - the walls are blackened by motor vehicle pollution
and are chipped off in parts. They also bear testimony to
the visits of lovers who have scrawled their names on them.
The iron gates and wooden gates are missing.
The growth of moss and wild plants in and around the armoury
make it very difficult to get in, and will result in its
dilapidation sooner or later. "There was an armoury built
by Tipu in the Tara Mandal area of Chickpet about 15 years
ago. Now it no longer exists. If the armoury is left unprotected,
it will also meet with a similar fate," says photographer
The armoury, once of paramount military significance, is
now a dumping ground for garbage and rubble. one wouldn't
even feel like entering the place, because of the stench
emanating from within. However, what's remarkable about
it is that although it's about 50 feet long and 20 feet
wide, it stands without the support of a pillar.
An ASI bylaw states that no building must come up within
300 metres of a protected archeological monument. Jeetendra
Das, Superintending Archeologist of Bangalore Circle, says,
"This armoury is not a protected monument because there
is no evidence of its structural stability. Even if measures
are initiated to conserve the monument, we wouldn't be able
to demolish the nearby buildings due to inadequacy of funds
to compensate for the demolition."
"The armoury was visited in October 1998 by Roshan Baig,
the then Minister of State for Home, Pramila Nesargi, BJP
MLA and Jeetendra Das from the Archeological Survey of India,
but no action has been taken as yet," says a government
Asked to comment, Roshan Baig said, "Operations to remove
the transformer in front of the armoury are on. We will
then get the city corporation to clean up the place. The
work should be completed in two months."
When Khaleel, a resident of the area, approached the concerned
authorities and voiced his opinion about the need for the
armoury's conservation, his pleas fell on deaf ears. The
least our leaders can do in commemoration of Tipu's martyrdom
is to protect and conserve the monuments he's left behind.
"This is the last remaining armoury of Tipu Sultan in Bangalore,
and hence the urgent need to protect it," says photographer