Srirangapatna – the Fort Town & Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary, Karnataka

Re-looking at our history is one of the things I love about traveling. So many little nuances of places strike you when you are actually there. Like I may not have imagined the pride of the Hoysala kingdom without going to the Belur & Halebeedu temples. Imagine finding ruins of Kishkindha from Ramayana stories in present village of Anegundi near Hampi!

So, when I first went to Mysore, I was very excited because it was Tipu Sultan’s city. I had grown up watching Tipu Sultan on television and remember his valour and courage against the British tyranny, and how he finally got betrayed. Yes, TV ends up influencing way too much. Anyway much later I realised that Mysore was actually ruled by the Wodeyars – who apparently were fairly good rulers, even though they were allies of the British? While Tipu Sultan’s main city would be Srirangapatna just 15 km away! The whole history of Mysore & and its surrounding areas is worth a good read and I still don’t understand half of it. Apparently the true kings – the Wodeyars were just puppets during Hyder Ali and his son Tipu Sultan’s reign? But again like I said need to read more on this.

When I went to Mysore for their famous Dasara (or Dussera festival) celebrations in 2013, I took the chance to visit Srirangapatna. This was one tiring day – I was on my feet for over 10 hours, by the time I reached back to my hostel I could not stand anymore and just collapsed on the bed, truly!

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Just as I enter Srirangapatna…..

Srirangapatna is unique as a ‘Fort City’. This means that the entire city was built inside a fort… so as you enter you are first greeted by Fort walls, canons and other old military fortifications. Even the ruins of these fortifications are quite impressive. The area inside is decent, clean and green albeit a little confusing as there are some ruins and then some newly made constructions so I am not clear what is what.

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See there are some ruins *i think* and then there is some new fangled stuff… and yea I know the picture is completely over exposed.

Sorry for the photo over exposure. Often as I am traveling I just stop clicking pictures as I am absorbed in the place….. this is one such trip – most pictures haven’t been clicked and the ones that are, are over-exposed. 😉

So I will actually source pictures from elsewhere so you get an idea about the place.

Surprisingly I was first greeted by a Jain temple. I always find it fascinating to find Jain temples in various unsuspecting corners of the country. So I visited it, drank water, cleaned my feet and looked around. It was an interesting architecture, different from the usual Jain temples. A mix of south Indian architecture and Jainism stuff.  Here you can take a look at some of the pictures here – if you know about Jain culture then you will be able to get the very South Indian flavour of this temple.

Further in the city we come to the famous Ranganathswamy temple, this is a Vishnu temple. I looked at it from outside, but I had enough of temples so I gave it a skip. I walked around the town a bit and it is a lovely, quiet little place. Every now and then there are some ruins with placards stating this was so-n-so spot in the reign of Tipu Sultan. There are some wells, and place where his body is found and royal garden and so on.

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Interestingly there were two very ancient temples I came to. There were many old people sitting outside – like a typical small town situation where the village elder men come and sit in a spot – gossiping and chit chatting. So I asked them how old is this temple? Most of them didn’t know English…. only one guy knew a bit so he rumbled a lot in Kannada and then went like “800” years.  Hehe. I checked online and it seems no one has written about these temples maybe cause they were pretty derelict.

So that was fun. I visited that one temple, also No photography. There were many little forks in the road… so I realised there was a lot to explore in this quiet town. Moreover, there are also many areas to explore on the other side of town …. this is on the other side of the highway. I didn’t go there, instead I went to a bird sanctuary!

Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary is just a few kms away.

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Srirangapatna to Ranganathittu is a fairly easy bus ride. You can get many buses from the Srirangapatna bus stop which drops you at a bus stop which is 15-20 mins from the bird sanctuary. You need to walk from this stop to the sanctuary gates. Some people may take rickshaws from here. I didn’t bother… I like walking. The road passes right by the river and hence quite green.

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Quiet waters….. some local people were also walking but most people arrive in cars or rickshaws

I wasn’t sure how it might be going alone, as this was my first bird sanctuary on my own. The ticket guy seemed a bit amused when I just walked in (as most people came in vehicles) and asked for one ticket. 😉

Overall, I had a great time here. The place is lush green and cool. There are many nice spots to just sit and enjoy. Probably due to Dasara there were quite a few people here even though it was October, off season for the sanctuary. The best time visit here is March to May. But I love nature and the green environment of the bird sanctuary. There is cafe which serves odd, Indian version of a lot of interesting dishes 😉

There is also a kids area for them to play around. The highlight is a boat ride which takes us closer to the bird and crocodile areas. So we pretty much saw lots and lots of one type of water bird, mainly these white ones,

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A full colony of these white Ibis…..
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More white Ibis on trees….
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The full flock shot of the White Ibis. 😉 There were two – three such flocks that I could see… the actual bird sanctuary of course goes in much deeper….

We also saw crocodiles up close, basking in the sun. It was quite fun… as I have never seen so many of them, just comfortably basking in front of us. The boat took us very close to one of them… was fun…

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They keep their mouths open to dry out….

 

So after spending a while here… I headed back to Srirangapatna. But here many of the places were closed as it was already evening. The town started getting quite deserted as tourists head back. I seem to have missed out seeing quiet a few of the places here in this sleepy town – so another trip is mandated. 😉

I am anyway a slow traveler, and like visiting places impromptu, I miss out on some good places because of that, but then I end up seeing and experiencing other stuff so I guess that is fine. I also end up spending quite a bit of time on nice spots… like I spent almost 4 hrs in Ranganathittu… part of it just sitting around and observing the the foliage, the birds, animals and the play of nature. 🙂

But there are many places I didn’t explore here…. in fact I could write a whole bucket list of those places.

1) Triveni Sangam: Holy rivers – Kaveri, Kabini & Hemavati confluence is just somewhere around Srirangapatnam

2) Tipu Sultan’s Summer Palace, Gol Gumbaz – and many other ruins. There were sign boards at the highway… so I guess I would explore the other side of town too.

3) Roam around the city a bit more and explore the various forks in the road I saw. If possible connect with a local to tell me more about it…

Have you been to Srirangapatna? If you haven’t I do recommend it when you are in the area… it is quite enchanting. Ranganathittu – I suggest go in the right season… because people who, really want to ‘see’ a lot of things for their trips to be worthwhile, might not really enjoy here in off season.