Ballari: While the entire state is debating over the `secular’ credentials of erstwhile Mysuru king Tipu Sultan, the Ballari mining community remembers him as the pioneer of scientific mining in this ore rich region.
Before the “Tom, Dick and Reddys” tryst with mineral rich Obulapuram zone surrounding Sugalamma hillock in Bellary Reserve Forest (BRF) of Rayadurga taluk on Andhra Pradesh side, nearly 226 years ago Mysore Tiger Tipu Sultan excavated mineral from the same area to manufacture artillery including war rockets.
According to volume XXV of the Geology of the Bellary District, Madras Presidency published in 1895, ‘Tippu Sultan’ had a mine on the Sugalamma Koda (hillock). The author of this volume, Robert Bruce Foote, F.G.S., F.M.U; Superintendent of Geological Survey of India wrote “metal was mined for by Tippu Sultan when master of the Bellary region”.
He wrote that a European geologist in Tippu’s army had vouched for the existence of mineral particularly copper and other chemical compositions of mineral in Sugalamma Konda that was used in making combustion powder. He documented that during his travels, he found haematite quartzite rock, but there were no signs of copper in any form of variety.
However, in his third attempt, he found an old abandoned mine in Sugalamma Konda as called by Telugu neighbourhood or Copper Mountain which may well be called after its principal summit the Copper Mountain of the European and Suggammadevi Betta or Sogadevibetta of the Canarese (Kannada speaking people) natives.
In fact, Robert Bruce Foote took up research on Tippu's mine after Captain T J Newbold, F.R.S of the Madras Army who travelled a number of times through various parts of the Ballari district after the fall of Tipu in IV Anglo-Mysore War.
He had made descriptions on Tipu’s mines and mineral melting furnaces’ in Suggalamma hillock in the journal of Asiatic Societies of London and Bengal in 1842.
According to Kannada Kaifiyats (with the mineral mined from Suggalamma Konda, Tipu’s European engineers produced manufactured war weapons in melting furnaces located in the area including that Tipu-fame war rockets with an important change: the use of metal cylinders to contain the combustion powder. He used to store artillery in Ballari lower fort built on the Ballari rock
Download the all new Deccan Chronicle app for Android and iOS to stay up-to-date with latest headlines and news stories in politics, entertainment, sports, technology, business and much more from India and around the world....