Sunday 17 February 2013

The Sun dials of Srirangapatna

Whenever a tourist visits Srirangapatna, he is first shown the spot where Tipu’s body was found on May 4, 1799.  He is then shown the water gate, Bailey’s Dungeon and the Ranganatha Temple. Many tourists and first time visitors to the temple town on the Cauvery are not even aware that there are other artifacts and monuments in Srirangapatna that can be seen and enjoyed.
Some of the artifacts deserve special attention. One such is the sun dials of  Srirangapatna. You see there are two of them and while one is in the premises of the Jamia Masjid, the other is near the Gumbaz or the place where Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan are buried.
It is to the credit of  Tipu Sultan that he got both the sun dials installed during his regime.
The Sun dial at the Jamia Masjid is installed on the terrace of the building and it is circular in shape. The Sun dial near the Gumbaz is placed on a black stone raised by two pillars which are five feet high.
The Sun dial neat the Gumbaz is square in shape. Both the Sun dials have been modeled on the sundials that were installed in Arab countries. The Jamia Masjid was reported to be one of the favourite buildings of Tipu and it was built in 1787.
Both the Sun dials-the one atop Jamia Masjid and near Gumbaz- run on almost the same lines. There are eight straight lines on every clock. There are engravings in the Persian languages.
The sundials have nineteen circles, apart from a hollow space at the centre, which has a needle-like protrusion made of an alloy. This can expand and contract, according to the temperature.
The tome of the day is determined by the shadow that the needle casts.
The Sun dial at the Jamia Masjid was particularly helpful for Muslims to determine the time and offer five namaaz. It also helped the soldiers to plan their shift changes as per the dial.
Even Tipu depended on these Sun dials to plan his day. He went by them till he received a magnificent clock from France. By the way, Tipu, who took France’s watchmaking skills as a challenge, got  blacksmiths from Msyore to make a similar clock and he presented it to the British as a gift.
Tipu Sultan had installed gold dials on the Sun Dial at Jamia Masjid but they were looted after the fall of Srirangapatna. Unfortunately, these Sun dials barely attract a glance. This is in sharp contrast to the crowds that the Sun dials at Jantar Mantar in Delhi and Jaipur draws.
If we ourselves do not respect our heritage and make it known to the outside world, how can we expect others, rather visitors and outsiders to do so.    

1 comment:

  1. Would it be possible to identify on Googloe maps, the exact locations, within the precincts of the Jama masjid and the Gumbaz, where the sundials are located?