Tuesday, 22 October 2019

The Scott's Bungalow in Srirangapatnam, Karnataka and its moving story

Scott's Bungalow, Seringapatam/en.wikipedia.org
Scott's Bungalow, Seringapatam/en.wikipedia.org

The Scott's Bungalow in Seringapatam ( also Srirangapatnam)on the banks of the river Cauvery was once the residence of Col. Scott, an officer of the Madras Army who played no less role in the Siege of Seringapatam in 1799.   Located about half a mile from the Mysore Gate of the Seringapatam gate, it is  a historical bungalow and hidden in it lurks  a poignant and heart-rending  story of Col. I.C. Scott and his family. Their tragic life in that bungalow is highlighted  in a lament in the form of a poem   by Walter Yeldham called 'The Deserted Bungalow', published in 1875.
 

It was the  Fourth  and final Anglo-Mysore War between the British East India Company and the Tipu Sultan of Mysore that saw the death of Tipu in 1799 during the Siege of Seringapatam. The British led by Wellesley  made a decisive victory after a long struggle. The Company army  managed to cross the  sturdy walls of the fortress and  raided  the main area that resulted in the fall of mighty Tipu.  Officer Scott  was an active participant in that crucial war.  The British restored the kingdom to the original Hindu rulers the  Wodeyar Dynasty from whom Hyder Ali seized the reigns taking advantage of turmoil in the royal family. Obviously  Seringapatam and the fort became a  garrison town of the Madras Army of the East India Company.

 Scott was assigned as a supervisor in a gun factory in Ganjam, a village close to Srirngapatna as he possessed good knowledge of  gun-making,  particularly, using the locally  available teak wood. His hard work and devotion to duty won him promotion and in 1817, he became a Colonel and Commanding  Officer of the garrisons at the French Rocks and at Seringapatam. During his stay here there developed a fine friendship with the ruler of Mysore and the Maharajah had a bungalow built on the banks of the Cauvery river for the comfortable stay of Col, Scott. 

Angelo-Mysore war, en.wikipedia.org

 In April, 1817 as part of his routine duty Scott left  for inspection at the French Rocks garrison  on horse-back. On  his return to his residence following day - 19 April 1817, to his shock,  he found his wife and two daughters  had been dead of cholera. Soon after this tragic incident in his family, local legend has it that  Col. Scott disappeared suddenly without any  trace.  The other version is that he  drove his horse carriage into the near by  Cauvery River when it was in full flow. Quite grief-stricken, Mysore Maharajah, it is believed, gave  special orders to regularly maintain the bungalow and the furniture  there-in, hoping one day  Col. Scott would return home. It never happened and the whereabouts of Col Scott remained a riddle. The later Mysore rulers  of the Wodeyar dynasty had continued the tradition of maintaining the Scott’s Bungalow.

Other versions confirm the tragedy in the Scott family, Mrs. Caroline Isabella Scott is said to have died during childbirth on 19 April 1817 and her two daughters  died from  cholera. After the unexpected death of his family members, Col Scott was devastated, however, did not vanish as various rumors claimed.  Scott, with heavy heart, left the bungalow as it was and then went back to England on medical leave to keep his mind off  the calamity at Srirangapatna. He continued his military services and became major-general in 1821. He breathed his last on 1 January 1833.

 As for the bungalow at Srirangpatna where Scott had lived for a long time, it was not rented out  and had been maintained since then on a regular basis and left the same way as Scott has left it in 1817.  In 1962, an Australian/English lady Yvette Zerfas, wife of Dr. Freddie Zerfas who was with a mission hospital   bought the Scott's Bungalow.  The bungalow served as a venue for green organic markets till the early 2000s.

 Constance Parsons (1931) records mention the grave of Scott's wife at the Garrison Cemetery, Seringapatam, with the inscription that reads "Caroline Isabella Scott (and infant child), wife of Colonel I C Scott, Commandant of Seringapatam; who died in
child-bed, 19th April 1817". However, the graves of his two daughters could not be located. The Blackwood's Magazine of 1818 and other records mention the death of  Mrs. Caroline, lady of Col. J G Scott of the Madras Artillery on 19 April 1817 at Seringapatam.  Other  records mention the birth of a still born child of the lady of Col. Scott on 14 April 1817. 
 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scott%27s_Bungalow#Captain_Scott