The Gumbaz of Srirangapatana, Karnataka - a fine example of Muslim architecture

tomb of Hyder Ali, by Dottor Giulio Ferrario (1824)  

The Gumbaz at Srirangapattana (also Srirangapatna) is a significant Muslim mausoleum located in the heart of a beautifully landscaped garden. It serves as the final resting place for Tipu Sultan, his father Hyder Ali, and his mother Fakhr-Un-Nisa. Constructed between 1782 and 1784 by Tipu Sultan, the Gumbaz was initially intended to house the graves of his parents. Following Tipu Sultan's death during the Siege of Srirangapatna in 1799, the British authorities permitted his burial at the same site, alongside his parents.

Tipu Sultan's Gumbaz, Srirangapatna, Karnataka.

Tipu Sultan Gumbaz, Srirangapatana,

Mausoleum of Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan (1858 )

The Gumbaz is a large mausoleum in the midst of an expansive well maintained garden that houses the cenotaphs of Tipu Sultan, his father Hyder Ali and mother Fakr-Un-Nisa. In fact Tipu Sultan built the Gumbaz in 1784 as a fitting tribute to his  father and parents.  Known as Tipu Sultan’s Mausoleum, it reflects Persian architectural style and features a stone plinth with polished black granite pillars. The corridor surrounding the inner chamber is adorned with tiger stripe paintings in honor of Tipu Sultan's bravery. The intricately carved doors and lattice windows add to the mausoleum's elegance. Tipu Sultan was buried here following his death in the Fourth Anglo-Mysore War in 1799. Adjacent to the mausoleum is the Masjid-E-Aqsa, surrounded by a rectangular garden, creating a serene setting.

the Gumbaz at Srirangapatna
Historical Context

The construction of the Gumbaz was commissioned by Tipu Sultan as a tribute to his parents. The mausoleum was originally surrounded by a cypress garden, featuring various species of flowering trees and plants sourced from regions as diverse as Persia, Ottoman Turkey, Kabul, and French Mauritius. This eclectic collection of flora was a testament to Tipu Sultan’s far-reaching connections and his appreciation for horticulture.

One notable feature of the Gumbaz was its original carved doors, which have since been removed and are now displayed at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. The present doors, made of ebony and decorated with ivory, were gifted by Lord Dalhousie, adding a layer of historical intrigue and continuity to the site.

Architectural Features

The Gumbaz is a prime example of Islamic architectural style, characterized by its large rectangular garden and a path leading to the mausoleum itself. The structure stands on an elevated platform in the center of the garden, providing a focal point for the surrounding landscape. The dome of the Gumbaz is supported by sharply cut black granite pillars, lending an air of strength and permanence to the building. The doors and windows are adorned with intricate latticework, also carved from black granite, showcasing the craftsmanship of the period.

Inside, the walls of the Gumbaz are painted with tiger stripes, a motif closely associated with Tipu Sultan. The three central graves—Hyder Ali in the middle, Fakhr-Un-Nisa to his east, and Tipu Sultan to his west—are prominently positioned within the mausoleum. Surrounding the mausoleum, in the garden, are the graves of many of Tipu Sultan’s relatives. Most of these graves bear inscriptions in Persian, reflecting the cultural and linguistic influences of the time.

The architectural style of the Gumbaz incorporates elements of the Bijapur tradition. It features a dome resting on a cubic structure, with ornamental railings and turrets decorated with spherical finials. The structure is supported by 36 black granite pillars and has an east-facing entrance, aligning with traditional Islamic architectural norms.


Inside the mausoleum, the central grave belongs to Hyder Ali, with Tipu Sultan buried to the west and Fakhr-Un-Nisa to the east. The veranda outside the mausoleum holds additional graves, including those of Sultan Begum (Tipu's sister), Fatima Begum (Tipu's daughter), Shazadi Begum (infant daughter), Syed Shahbaz (Tipu's son-in-law), Mir Mahmood Ali Khan, and his parents. On the eastern side lies the grave of Tipu’s foster mother, Madina Begum. The veranda also contains a row of 14 graves, including those of notable figures such as Ruqia Banu, Burhanuddin Shaheed, and Nawab Muhammad Raza Ali Khan. The northern side of the garden contains numerous graves, with only a few marked by headstones.

British Occupation in 1792

During the Third Anglo-Mysore War, the grounds of the Gumbaz were briefly occupied by British forces in 1792. The army camped on the grounds, cutting down many of the cypress trees to use as tent poles and fascines. The flower beds surrounding the mausoleum were repurposed for the burial of soldiers who fell in battle. The once-landscaped lawns were used for exercising horses, and the walkways became sites for target practice. The choultry, originally intended for Muslim fakirs, was converted into a makeshift hospital for treating the wounded.

These scenes were vividly depicted in illustrations by military artist Charles Gold in his 1806 book "Oriental Drawings." Gold's paintings show Hyder Ali's tomb rising above a backdrop of British soldiers camping in the gardens, cutting down trees, and generally disrupting the once-serene environment. He described the scene as a "melancholy spectacle," noting that the garden appeared to have "suffered the ravages of the severest winter." The fruit trees were stripped of their branches, and the lofty cypress trees were broken down to be used as firewood and military resources.

Other military artists, including James Hunter, Robert Home, and Sir Alexander Allan, also documented the occupation and subsequent destruction of the Gumbaz garden. Their works provide valuable historical insights into the impact of the British occupation on this significant site.

In 1855, Lord Dalhousie, the Governor-General of India, visited Seringapatam and found many monuments in decay. Recognizing their historical and architectural significance, he ordered their renovation and maintenance. He personally funded the replacement of the Gumbaz's doors and directed the restoration of the murals in the Daria Daulat. Dalhousie also established an annual maintenance fund for these and other associated monuments, ensuring their preservation for future generations.

In conclusion, the Gumbaz at  Srirangapatana stands as a monument to the legacy of Tipu Sultan and his family. Its rich history, architectural splendor, and the poignant stories of its occupation by British forces make it a significant cultural and historical landmark.,_Srirangapatna