Tipu Sultan at Sibi Narasimha Swami Temple

Sibi, a small town in the Tumkur district of Karnataka, is home to the renowned Narasimha Swami temple. Constructed in the late 18th century by three brothers - Laksminarasappa, Puttanna, and Nallappa - who were revenue collectors during the reign of Tipu Sultan, the temple was built in memory of their father, Kacheri Krishnappa, a Diwan of the Mysore Wodeyars, and their mother, Alamelu, who committed Sati.

The Sibi Narasimha Swami temple is famous for its stunning mural paintings. To our surprise, the walls of the mukhamantapa (main entrance) feature depictions of Hyder Ali and his son Tipu Sultan alongside mythological scenes from the Ramayana, Mahabharata, and Bhagavata. Unfortunately, many of these paintings are in a state of disrepair. 

There are three rows of paintings on the wall of the mukhamantapa. The first row of paintings showcases the Krishna Leela while the second row depicts a scene from the court of Krishnaraja Wodeyar III with Nallappa in attendance. Here, the young Maharaja is seated on a chair smelling a rose, while two attendants fan him from either side and three others stand awaiting his orders.  

The third row of paintings features the darbar of Hyder Ali. Hyder is seated in the extreme left, and in front of him are seated Diwan Kacheri Krishnappa, Ravanappa and Venkatappa (maternal uncles of Nallappa), who held high posts in Hyder's court. Five more men are waiting for a meeting with Hyder, creating a vivid and captivating scene.

The awe-inspiring painting adorning the ceiling of the main entrance of the Sibi village is a testament to the importance of the area, which was once a lush forest. At the center of the large mural stands Tipu Sultan, heroically wielding a sword in his right hand and a long spear in his left, while stamping a snake with his left foot. It is clear that both Karnik Nallappa and the artist had great admiration for Tipu Sultan. 

The panel also features a variety of other scenes, including a rishi performing penance, Krishna playing his flute to his cowherd friends and so on. Surrounding this large mural are four beams depicting scenes from a royal procession, which may or may not belong to Tipu Sultan.

The current priest, Nallappa, is the eighth generation descendant of Karnik Nallappa, and proudly recounts that Tipu Sultan used to hunt tigers in the area, making it his favorite hunting ground.
nallappa author of hydernama
Karnik Nallappa

Karnik Nallappa, the eldest son of Kacheri Krishnappa, was a wealthy landlord who provided Hyder and his men with food and shelter at Sibi. He also provided fodder to their horses when Hyder came to Sibi for treatment for the injured soldiers followed by his battle against the Marathas. Out of gratitude, Hyder appointed Nallappa as fauzdar, and he was affectionately known as Doddamaneyavaru and Doddagaddeyavaru by the locals, says Nallappa the current priest. There is also a painting of Nallappa and his two brothers sitting in Hyder's darbar on the ceiling of the temple.

Karnik Nallappa is also the author of Hyder Nama, a Kannada biography of Hyder Ali written in 1784. He was also in the service of Tipu Sultan and later Krishnaraja Wodeyar III also known as Mummadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar. To honor his loyalty to the three rulers, Nallappa had their portraits painted on the walls of the temple.

Convener of Gadinadu Janapada Samparka Kendra Chikkanna Yannekatte, author of Sibi Narasimha Swamy Kshetra Darshana, asserts that behind the temple lies the remnants of the horse stable of Hyder and Tipu. He claims that the two rulers had donated lands for the benefit of the temple.

Image Credit:

K. L. Kamat, Robin Walsh


For the royal patrons - The Hindu

Tipu Sultan's fading pictures on Seebi temple walls - The Hindu

Murals of Sibi By Dr. Veena Shekar


  1. How accurate can we say Hyder Nama is, considering it was written by someone in the service of Hyder's son?