Srirangapatna, a brilliant example of the rich heritage of the Western Ganga dynasty, the Hoysala Empire and Vijayanagara Empire unfortunately became the capital of the most ruthless Muslim ruler to have ruled over the Kingdom of Mysore, Tipu Sultan. His rabid outpourings, radical fanaticism, religious intolerance, contempt and disdain for Hindus and tribals are legendary and have made their way into multiple court records, notes of envoys and historical documents.
He possessed the rare ability like the successive Muslim invaders to reduce grand temples of great antiquity to rubble and build mosques over them using the debris. One such abominable act is the ancient Anjaneya Temple also known locally as Moodala Bagilu Anjaneya Swami Temple.
As per historians, the Anjaneya Temple originally stood at the entrance of the Srirangapatna Fort till 1784. Tipu Sultan razed a large part of the temple to the ground, levelled the ground and built the Jamia Masjid over it. The temple kund is part of the mosque and is used for ablutions. A shrine dedicated to Lord Ganesha is a part of the madrasa which is a large hall supported by decorative pillars adorned with auspicious Hindu iconography.
The mosque has been built using the pillars that have stood here since the early 9th century. A walk through the mosque will reveal a number of pilasters and pillars with floral and foliage patterns, defaced sculptures and carved panels. The original Sanskrit inscriptions have since been covered up during renovations.
Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) in its report in the early 1900s has categorically declared this site to be a sacred Hindu shrine. However, the truth will be known only after a comprehensive ASI survey is done.
Written by Lakshmi Subramanian