Summer Palace

The Summer Residence of Tipu Sultan

I touch the teak wood and I am in awe. I am whisked 200 years back because that was when this teak wood became a part of this summer palace. Sometime in 1781-1791, the foundation stone would have been placed,next would have been the stone walls, the wood pillars, beams, the intricate brackets supporting the beams, the decorative arches- what forethought would have gone in designing this ‘Abode of Happiness’ for Tipu Sultan, the then ruler of Mysore kingdom.

Tipu Sultan’s father Hyder Ali started this summer palace in 1781.After his death, his son took over and by 1791 the palace got built. Today more than 200 years later, only a fraction of the palace survives. But what remains, is enough to show you the magnificence of the old palace.


From outside when I look I imagine that it was one single storey. But as I look closer at the Indo-Islamic structure I gather that it is two storeyed. The misconception resulted because of the teak pillars that stretched out from ground to the first floor giving it the appearance of a single tiered building.

The ground floor houses the museum of Tipu Sultan today. You learn plenty of things here. For instance you may have known that Tipu was an able administrator, was proficient in several languages and boosted the economic prosperity in the State. Yet you will be pleasantly surprised to learn that he was the pioneer of early rockets. The early rockets during the Tipu era  had a bamboo/wood pole with an iron cylinder containing the explosives and a rocket man used to light it. The rocket would shoot up or travel horizontally, light up the ammunition, scatter horses and were a menace to the British. These rockets caused heavy casualties in the British army during the Polilur war which Tipu won.

After Tipu’s death in 1799 in the final British-Mysore war, the British took care to take these Mysore rockets along with them. They were studied, improved upon and were used in the wars against Napoleon.


From the ground floor there are stone steps to take you upstairs to the cantilever balconies and the Zenana quarters. Tipu apparently held his durbar here and the rooms above(Zenana quarters) were for the ladies to tune in to the court proceedings. The beautiful floral motifs on the ceiling and on the walls makes you realize how splendid the palace would have looked with teak-wood pillars, wooden banisters and pigmented motifs covering the bare walls and ceilings.

The tour of this palace takes you a mere 40-50 minutes. Located on Albert Victor Road it is open on all days. Combine the visit with the nearby Tipu’s armory and the old fort.



Seven tidbits about Tipu Sultan


Tipu sultan

What do you know about Tipu Sultan? That he was a Sultan, famous as the Tiger Of Mysore? Or that his father was Hyder Ali or that there is a fort at Devanhalli that is his birth place, Nandi hills was his summer retreat etc etc…… Though there are a lot of controversies surrounding him, one thing however stands true – he was a great warrior.

A couple of years ago I got my hands on the book – The Sword of Tipu Sultan by Bhagwan S. Gidwani. This book evoked strong emotions in me as the writer describes him as an enlightened ruler. So to learn a bit more about him, I visited his Summer Palace in Bangalore . And here is what I learnt.


Tipu’s Sufi Connection:

Tipu had a Sufi connection. He was named after a 18th century Sufi saint- Tipu Mastan Awliya. Hyder Ali and his second wife had visited the tomb of this saint for the safe delivery of their child.

Tipu coins with letter H:

Tipu Sultan’s coins most often had the letter ‘H’ in them. It could be the initial letter of his father Hyder Ali’s name or could even refer to the Prophet’s cousin Ali who was known as Haydar. The letter was most often there, either in the center or a small inscription of it somewhere on the face of the coin.

Tiger motifs

The Summer palace has tiger motifs on the walls. Tipu’s love for tigers is universally known. Apparently he had tigers in Srirangapatna too guarding his treasury and the palace. The tiger motifs are seen in his weapons, helmets, embroidered in textiles, on palace walls, coins,Tipu’s throne and in Hyder Ali’s tomb as well.

The musical tiger toy:

The notorious musical instrument ‘Musical Tiger’ struck a lot of chords when it entered Britain after Tipu’s death in 1799. The instrument had the figure of a tiger attacking an European officer. When the handle of the instrument was turned it mimicked the cries of the  soldier coupled with the roar of the tiger. This instrument was the key attraction at the Museum in the Leadenhall street for years.

Tipu’s  Rockets:

Tipu’s rockets in the palace are not very big, an iron  case containing the projectile, tied to a bamboo or wooden pole. But the havoc it caused in Poliur war was tremendous. It could be fired horizontally, projected upwards and it could frighten the horses or set fire to ammunition. Such was its success that after the Anglo Mysore wars the English set about studying these.It was also an inspiration for the first solid fuel rockets.

Tipu’s Treasury:

After his death in the fourth Anglo Mysore War the palace, his treasury, the houses in the city were looted and plundered. Most of his treasures were sent to London.Gold, swords, bales,jewels, silver artifacts, rich carpets- items like the throne made of pure gold was knocked to pieces and then sent. Details of these items can be found in the book Tipu’s Tigers by Susan Stronge.

Tipu and his dreams:

Tipu documented his dreams and he interpreted some of them as well. The 37 dreams recorded were mostly about his enemies and wars – the victories he desired etc.The diary was hidden as Tipu had no inclination to show it to anyone and was later discovered in his bed chamber by Colonel Kirkpatrick after Tipu’s death. The dreams depict what was foremost in his mind- to free his city from the clutches of foreign rule as is indicated in the book The Dreams of Tipu Sultan.

Love him or hate him, but do visit the lovely Summer Palace of Tipu Sultan. Alternatively to hear more about his exploits join us on our Unhurried Walks or register for a private walk with us for a Tipu Trail.