Tipu Sultan's religious policy has been a source of great controversy. While some have accused him of being a fanatic and bigot, the letters in the archives of the Sringeri Math [Mutt] tell a different story. Furthermore, his appointment of Hindus to various high offices and grants, gifts, etc. to Hindu temples and Brahmins refute these accusations.
There are some fascinating legends associated with Tipu Sultan and Karnataka temples. These stories demonstrate Tipu Sultan's respect for Hinduism and his commitment to religious tolerance.
I. Srikanteshwara (Nanjundeswara) Temple at Nanjangud:
To the left of the shrine of Goddess Parvathi in the famous Srikanteshwara swamy temple, lies a green jadeite linga, gifted by Tipu Sultan and now known as the Padshah Linga. An inscription on the marble tablet above the door of the sanctum sanctorum reads: 'Jadite Linga offered to Swami, installed by Tipu Sultan'.
According to the temple priest, Sadashivaswamy, who has served in the temple for 62 years, Tipu Sultan's royal elephant had lost its sight. He was told that if he offered prayers to the Lord with devotion, his wishes would be fulfilled. Thus, Tipu bathed the elephant in the river Kapila and wiped its eyes with the river water used for the abhishekam of Lord Srikanteshwara for one mandala, or 48 days. Miraculously, the elephant regained its sight. "Impressed by the fact, he is said to have called Lord Sri Nanjundeswara 'Hakim (Doctor) Nanjunda'.
In appreciation, Tipu gifted the temple a pachche linga adorned with a makara kanti haara (necklace) featuring a dollar with the symbol of the moon, an Islamic symbol. This necklace is kept in the strong room of the temple and is placed on the idol once a year on the day of Girijakalayam in the month of Ashada.
Furthermore, Tipu is said to have gifted land at Chandagala in Srirangapatna to provide the money necessary for daily abhisheka, pooja and other offerings to the pachche linga", says Sadashivaswamy.
II. Kollur Mookambika Temple at Udupi:
The Salam Mangalarati ritual, performed in the temple between 6:30 pm and 8 pm, is a reverential homage to Tipu Sultan, commemorating his visit to the temple in 1763.
On one evening, as the pradosha pooja was taking place, Tipu Sultan and his force suddenly appeared at the eastern gate, causing fear and apprehension among those inside and outside the temple. However, Tipu Sultan attended the pooja with great devotion and accepted the prasada from the priest. The priest, the great grandfather of the current priest Sreedhar Adiga, informed the Sultan that the Mangalarati of pradosha pooja would henceforth be known as Salam Mangalarati in honor of his royal visit. As a token of his appreciation, Tipu Sultan granted the temple a number of landed properties through his vassal kings of Keladi and Nagara. Sreedhar Adiga is the hereditary priest of Mookambika temple who has been conducting this pradosha pooja for generations. This information was passed down from his father Visweswara Adiga, who in turn received it from his father Ramachandra Adiga.
During the ritual, a special devotional song is recited, praising the goddess, and unique drum beats accompanied by music are played. This ritual is a powerful reminder of Tipu Sultan's visit and his generous contribution to the temple.
III. Navasara Hanuman Temple near Mysore:
According to one story, Tipu was a devout follower of Lord Hanuman, who had granted him a boon, and thus the temple was built as a sign of his gratitude. Another tale suggests that the temple was erected for Tipu's second wife, who was a Hindu. Regardless of the origin, the Navasara Hanuman Temple stands as a testament to Tipu Sultan's religious tolerance and devotion to Lord Hanuman.
IV. Kote Venkataramana Temple at Bangalore:
The Kote Venkataramana Temple stands adjacent to Tipu Sultan's Summer Palace in Bangalore. It is said that Tipu Sultan paid homage to the deity in the temple on a regular basis. An 80-foot tall octagonal stone pillar stood in front of the temple, believed to have saved Tipu Sultan from a British cannonball during the Third Anglo-Mysore War in 1791.
Tipu Sultan: The temple that saved Tipu Sultan was built when Wadiyars bought Bengaluru in 1690 - The Economic Times
The Hindu hater built a Hanuman temple? - Deccan Chronicle
'Salam Mangalarati' at Kollur temple, an exemplar of communal harmony - Deccan Herald
Tipu Sultan's gesture to Nanjangud temple - Deccan Chronicle