|King of Mysore|
|Born||20 November 1750|
|Died||4 May 1799 (aged 48)|
|Place of death||Srirangapattana|
|Royal House||Sultanate of Mysore|
Tipu Sultan (November 1750, Devanahalli – 4 May 1799, Seringapatam), also known as the Tiger of Mysore, was the ruler of the Sultanate of Mysore. He was the son of Hyder Ali, at that time an officer in the Mysorean army, and his second wife, Fatima or Fakhr-un-Nissa. He was given a number of honorific titles, and was referred to as Sultan Fateh Ali Khan Shahab, Tipu Saheb, Bahadur Khan Tipu Sultan or Fatih Ali Khan Tipu Sultan Bahadur.
During Tipu’s childhood, his father rose to take power in Mysore, and Tipu took over rule of the kingdom upon his father’s death in 1782. In addition to his role as ruler, he was a scholar, soldier, and poet. He was a devout Muslim but the majority of his subjects were Hindus. At the request of the French, he built a church, the first in Mysore. He was proficient in many languages. In alliance with the French in their struggle with the British, and in Mysore’s struggles with other surrounding powers, both Tipu Sultan and Hyder Ali used their French trained army against the Marathas, Sira, rulers of Malabar, Coorg, Bednur, Carnatic, and Travancore. He won important victories against the British in the Second Anglo-Mysore War, and negotiated the 1784 Treaty of Mangalore with them after his father died the previous year.
He engaged in expansionist attacks against his neighbours, and harshly put down rebellions within his territories, deporting whole populations into confinement in Seringapatam. He remained an implacable enemy of the British, bringing them into renewed conflict with an attack on British-allied Travancore in 1789. In the Third Anglo-Mysore War Tipu was forced into a humiliating peace, losing a number of previously conquered territories, such as Malabar and Mangalore. He sent embassies to foreign states, including the Ottoman Empire and France, in an attempt to rally opposition to the British. In the Fourth Anglo-Mysore War the combined forces of the British East India Company and the Nizam of Hyderabad defeated Tipu and he was killed on 4 May 1799, defending the fort of Seringapatam.
Tipu’s treatment of conquered subjects, non-Muslims(Hindus), and prisoners of war, was controversial, his way of conversion to Islam was brutal and still continues to be a subject of debate. He introduced a number of administrative and military innovations to Mysore (including the expansion of rocket technology), and introduced and promoted a more widespread use of Persian and Urdu languages in southern India.
|“||Although I never supposed that he (Napoleon) possessed, allowing for some difference of education, the liberality of conduct and political views which were sometimes exhibited by old Hyder Ali, yet I did think he might have shown the same resolved and dogged spirit of resolution which induced Tipu Sahib to die manfully upon the breach of his capital city with his sabre clenched in his hand.||”|
|—Sir Walter Scott, commenting on the abdication of Napoleon Bonaparte in 1814|
Tipu Sultan confronts his opponent during the Siege of Seringapatam
Tipu Sultan was born at Devanahalli, in present-day Bangalore District, some 33 km (21 mi) North of Bangalore city. The exact date of his birth is not known; various sources claim different dates between 1749 and 1753. According to one widely accepted dating, he was born on 20 November 1750 (Friday, 10th Dhu al-Hijjah, 1163 AH). His father, Hyder Ali, was a military officer in service to the Kingdom of Mysore; he rapidly rose in power, and became the de facto ruler of Mysore in 1761. His mother Fatima or Fakhr-un-Nissa was the daughter of the governor of the fort of Kadapa.
Early military service
A flintlock blunderbuss, built for Tipu Sultan in Seringapatam, 1793–94. Tipu Sultan used many Western craftsmen, and this gun reflects the most up-to-date technologies of the time.
Tipu Sultan was instructed in military tactics by French officers in the employment of his father. At age 15, he accompanied his father against the British in the First Mysore War in 1766. He commanded a corps of cavalry in the invasion of Carnatic in 1767 at age 16. He also distinguished himself in the First Anglo-Maratha War of 1775–1779.
Alexander Beatson, who published a volume on the Fourth Mysore War entitled View of the Origin and Conduct of the War with Tippoo Sultaun, described Tipu Sultan as follows: “His stature was about five feet eight inches; he had a short neck, square shoulders, and was rather corpulent: his limbs were small, particularly his feet and hands; he had large full eyes, small arched eyebrows, and an aquiline nose; his complexion was fair, and the general expression of his countenance, not void of dignity”.
Second Anglo-Mysore War
In 1779, the British captured the French-controlled port of Mahé, which Tipu had placed under his protection,providing some troops for its defence. In response, Hyder launched an invasion of the Carnatic, with the aim of driving the British out of Madras. During this campaign in September 1780, Tipu Sultan was dispatched by Hyder Ali with 10,000 men and 18 guns to intercept Colonel Baillie who was on his way to join Sir Hector Munro. In the Battle of Pollilur, Tipu decisively defeated Baillie. Out of 360 Europeans, about 200 were captured alive, and the sepoys, who were about 3800 men, suffered very high casualties. Munro was moving south with a separate force to join Baillie, but on hearing the news of the defeat he was forced to retreat to Madras, abandoning his artillery in a water tank at Kanchipuram.
Mural of the Battle of Pollilur on the walls of Tipu’s summer palace, painted to celebrate his triumph over the British.
Tipu Sultan defeated Colonel Braithwaite at Annagudi near Tanjore on 18 February 1782. Braithwaite’s forces, consisting of 100 Europeans, 300 cavalry, 1400 sepoys and 10 field pieces, was the standard size of the colonial armies. Tipu Sultan seized all the guns and took the entire detachment prisoner. In December 1781 Tipu Sultan successfully seized Chittur from the British. Tipu Sultan had thus gained sufficient military experience by the time Hyder Ali died on Friday, 6 December 1782 – some historians put it at 2 or 3 days later or before, (Hijri date being 1 Muharram, 1197 as per some records in Persian — there may be a difference of 1 to 3 days due to the Lunar Calendar). Tipu Sultan realised that the British were a new kind of threat in India. He became the ruler of Mysore on Sunday, 22 December 1782 ( The inscriptions in some of Tipu’s regalia showing it as 20 Muharram, 1197 Hijri – Sunday), in a simple coronation ceremony. He then worked to check the advances of the British by making alliances with the Marathas and the Mughals.
The Second Mysore War came to an end with the 1784 Treaty of Mangalore. It was the last occasion when an Indian king dictated terms to the British, and the treaty is a prestigious document in the history of India. The war is also remembered for alleged excesses committed by Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan in Tanjore. During the period of occupation which lasted six months, Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan are believed to have impoverished the country, destroying crops and cattle. As late as 1785, the Dutch missionary Christian Friedrich Schwarz describes Tipu’s alleged abduction of 12,000 children from the region. The economic output of Tanjore is estimated to have fallen by 90% between 1780 and 1782. The ravages of Hyder and Tipu were followed by alleged expeditions of plunder launched by the Kallars. The economic devastation wrought by these attacks was so severe that Tanjore’s economy did not recover until the start of the 19th century; the era is referred to in local folklore as the Hyderakalam.
Ruler of Mysore
Tipu Sultan’s summer palace at Srirangapatna, Karnataka
While leading a predominantly Hindu country, Tipu remained strong in his Muslim faith, going daily to say his prayers and paying special attention to mosques in the area. He built a church, the first in Mysore, on French request.
During his rule, Tipu Sultan laid the foundation for a dam where the famous Krishna Raja Sagara Dam across the river Cauvery was later built. He also completed the project of Lal Bagh started by his father Hyder Ali, and built roads, public buildings, and ports along the Kerala shoreline. His dominion extended throughout North Bangalore including the Nandi Hills, Kanivenarayanapura, and Chickballapur. His trade extended to countries which included Sri Lanka,Oman,Afghanistan, France, Turkey, and Iran. Under his leadership, the Mysore army proved to be a school of military science to Indian princes. The serious blows that Tipu Sultan inflicted on the British in the First and Second Mysore Wars affected their reputation as an invincible power. Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, the former President of India, in his Tipu Sultan Shaheed Memorial Lecture in Bangalore (30 November 1991), called Tipu Sultan the innovator of the world’s first war rocket. Two of these rockets, captured by the British at Seringapatam, are displayed in the Royal Artillery Museum in London. He managed to subdue all the petty kingdoms in the south. He defeated the Marathas and the Nizams and was also one of the few Indian rulers to have defeated British armies. He is said to have started new coinage, calendar, and a new system of weights and measures mainly based on the methods introduced by French technicians. He was well versed in Urdu, Kannada, Persian, and Arabic. Tipu was supposed to become a Sufi, but his father Hyder Ali insisted he become a capable soldier and leader.
Tipu Sultan is also infamous for the inhuman atrocities committed during his invasion of South Kanara, Kodagu and Malabar. The revolt against Tipu’s rule in Malabar was crushed. The Syrian Christians and Hindus were persecuted in these regions with plunder, destruction places of worship, and mass conversions. The main deity at the famous Guruvayur Temple had to be shifted to Ambalapuzha due to the imminent attack from Tipu’s forces. The King of Kozhikode (Samudiri/Zamorin) committed suicide in his palace to avoid capture by Tipu. Members of the royal family of Chirakkal were deported to Mysore. There were large scale migration of people to the kingdom of Travancore, fearing persecution. In fact, historically the region south of the Tungabhadra river was relatively immune to the great ravages and plunder from attacking armies unlike those in the northern parts of India. The only two exception to the aforementioned were the acts of Hyder Ali/ Tipu Sultan in Malabar- Kodagu- South Kanara regions and the sacking and destruction of Vijayanagara.
In his attempts to junction with Tipu Sultan, Napoleon annexed Ottoman Egypt in the year 1798.
Both Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan were independent rulers Mysore, but claimed some degree of loyalty to the Mughal Emperor Shah Alam II. Both of them are known to have maintained correspondence with the Mughal emperor. Unlike the Nawab of Carnatic, neither owed any allegiance to the Nizam of Hyderabad and often instead chose direct contact and relations with the Mughal emperor.
Immediately after his coronation, Tipu Sultan sought the investiture of the Mughal emperor. Nizam Ali Khan, the Nizam of Hyderabad, clearly expressed his hostility by dissuading the Mughal emperor and laying false claims onto Mysore. Disheartened but not disappointed, Tipu Sultan began to establish contacts with other Muslim rulers of that period.
After the eunuch Ghulam Qadir had Shah Alam II blinded on 10 August 1788, Tipu Sultan is believed to have broken into tears. After facing substantial threats from the Marathas, Tipu Sultan began to correspond with Zaman Shah Durrani the ruler of Afghanistan, so they could defeat the Marathas and restore Shah Alam II to power.
In the year 1787, Tipu Sultan sent an embassy to the Ottoman capital of Istanbul, to the Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid I requesting urgent assistance against the British East India Company and had proposed an offensive and defensive consortium. Tipu Sultan requested the Ottoman Sultan to send him troops and military experts. Furthermore Tipu Sultan also requested permission from the Ottomans to contribute to the maintenance of the Islamic shrines in Mecca, Medina, Najaf and Karbala. However, the Ottomans were themselves at crisis and still recuperating from the devastating Austro-Ottoman War and a new war against the Russians in Crimea had just begun. Due to the Ottoman-inability to organise a fleet in the Indian Ocean, Tipu Sultan’s ambassadors returned home only with gifts from their Ottoman allies, this event caused his defeat and loss of much territory by the year 1792. Furthermore Tipu Sultan’s correspondence with the Ottomans and particularly their new Sultan Selim III continued till his final battle in the year 1799.
Tipu Sultan then sought an alliance with Napoleon and particularly the French, supposedly aimed at achieving this goal by driving his main rivals, the British East India Company out of the subcontinent.
Like his father before him, Tipu Sultan maintained many embassies and made several contacts with Mohammad Ali Khan ruler of the Zand Dynasty in Persia. Tipu Sultan also maintained correspondence with Hamad bin Said, the ruler of the Sultanate of Oman.
War against the Marathas
The Maratha Empire under its new Peshwa Madhavrao II regained most of Indian subcontinent, twice defeating Tipu’s father, who was forced to accept Maratha Empire as the supreme power in 1764 and then in 1767. In 1767 Maratha Peshwa Madhavrao defeated both Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan and entered Seringapatnam the capital of Mysore. Hyder Ali accepted the authority of Madhavrao who gave him the title of Nawab of Mysore. However Tipu Sultan wanted to escape from the treaty of Marathas and therefore tried to take some Maratha forts in southern India. This brought Tipu in direct conflict with the Marathas, who sent an army towards Mysore under leadership of General Nana Phadnavis. The Marathas took many forts of Tipu Sultan in the Mysore region Badami, Kittur, and Gajendragad in June 1786. By the victory in this war, the border of the Maratha territory was extended to the Tungabhadra river. This forced Tipu to open negotiations with the Maratha leadership. He sent two of his agents to the Marathan capital at Pune. The deal that was finalized resulted in the Marathas recovering their territories which had been annexed by Mysore. Furthermore the Nizam of Hyderabad received Adoni and Mysore was obligated to pay 48 lacs rupees as a war cost to the Marathas, and an annual tribute of 12 lacs rupees. In return the Marathas recognized the rule of Tipu in the Mysore region.
Third Anglo-Mysore War
Political cartoon by James Gillray, making fun of Lord Cornwallis after his 1791 retreat from Seringapatam
General Lord Cornwallis, receiving two of Tipu Sultan’s sons as hostages in the year 1793.
In 1789 Tipu Sultan disputed the acquisition by Dharma Raja of Travancore of two Dutch-held fortresses in Cochin, which was a Mysorean tributary. In December 1789 he massed troops at Coimbatore, and on 28 December made an attack on the lines of Travancore, knowing that Travancore was (according to the Treaty of Mangalore) an ally of the British East India Company. On account of the staunch resistance by the Travancore army, Tipu was unable to break through the Tranvancore lines and the Maharajah of Travancore appealed to the East India Company for help. In response, Lord Cornwallis mobilised company and British military forces, and formed alliances with the Marathas and the Nizam of Hyderabad to oppose Tipu. In 1790 the company forces advanced, taking control of much of the Coimbatore district. Tipu counterattacked, regaining much of the territory, although the British continued to hold Coimbatore itself. He then descended into the Carnatic, eventually reaching Pondicherry, where he attempted without success to draw the French into the conflict.
In 1791 his opponents advanced on all fronts, with the main British force under Cornwallis taking Bangalore and threatening Seringapatam. Tipu harassed the British supply and communication and embarked on a “scorched earth” policy of denying local resources to the invaders. In this last effort he was successful, as the lack of provisions forced Cornwallis to withdraw to Bangalore rather than attempt a siege of Seringapatam. Following the withdrawal, Tipu sent forces to Coimbatore, which they retook after a lengthy siege.
The 1792 campaign was a failure for Tipu. The allied army was well-supplied, and Tipu was unable to prevent the junction of forces from Bangalore and Bombay before Seringapatam. After about two weeks of siege, Tipu opened negotiations for terms of surrender. In the ensuing treaty, he was forced to cede one half of Mysore’s territory to the allies, and deliver two of his sons as hostages until he paid in full three crores and thirty lakhs rupees fixed as the expenses of the British campaign against him. He paid the amount shortly and got back his sons from Madras.
Napoleon’s attempt at a junction
Louis XVI receives the ambassadors of Tipu Sultan in 1788. Tipu Sultan is known to have sent many diplomatic missions to France, the Ottoman Empire, Sultanate of Oman, Zand Dynasty and Durrani Empire.
One of the motivations of Napoleon’s Invasion of Egypt was to establish a junction with India against the British. Bonaparte wished to establish a French presence in the Middle East, with the ultimate dream of linking with Tippoo Sahib. Napoleon assured to the French Directory that “as soon as he had conquered Egypt, he will establish relations with the Indian princes and, together with them, attack the English in their possessions.” According to a 13 February 1798 report by Talleyrand: “Having occupied and fortified Egypt, we shall send a force of 15,000 men from Suez to India, to join the forces of Tipu-Sahib and drive away the English.” Napoleon was unsuccessful in this strategy, losing the Siege of Acre in 1799, and at the Battle of Abukir in 1801.
Fourth Mysore War
The Last Effort and Fall of Tipu Sultan by Henry Singleton, c. 1800
After Horatio Nelson had defeated François-Paul Brueys D’Aigalliers at the Battle of the Nile in Egypt in 1798, three armies, one from Bombay, and two British (one of which included Arthur Wellesley, the future first Duke of Wellington), marched into Mysore in 1799 and besieged the capital Seringapatam in the Fourth Mysore War.
Tipu Sultan’s forces during the Siege of Seringapatam.
There were over 26,000 soldiers of the British East India Company comprising about 4000 Europeans and the rest Indians. A column was supplied by the Nizam of Hyderabad consisting of ten battalions and over 16,000 cavalry, and many soldiers were sent by the Marathas. Thus the soldiers in the British force numbered over 50,000 soldiers whereas Tipu Sultan had only about 30,000 soldiers. The British broke through the city walls, and Tipu Sultan died defending his capital on 4 May. When the fallen Tipu was identified, Wellesley felt his pulse and confirmed that he was dead. Next to him, underneath his palankeen, was one of his most confidential servants, Rajah Cawn. Rajah was able to identify Tipu for the soldiers. Tipu Sultan was killed at the Hoally (Diddy) Gateway, which was located 300 yards (270 m) from the N.E. Angle of the Seringapatam Fort. Tipu was buried the next afternoon, near the remains of his father. In the midst of his burial, a great storm struck, with massive winds and rains. As Lieutenant Richard Bayly of the British 12th regiment wrote, “I have experienced hurricanes, typhoons, and gales of wind at sea, but never in the whole course of my existence had I seen anything comparable to this desolating visitation”.
Immediately after the death of Tipu Sultan many members of the British East India Company believed that Umdat Ul-Umra the Nawab of Carnatic secretly provided assistance to Tipu Sultan during the war and immediately sought his deposition after the year 1799.
Leadership, policy, and innovations
Tipu introduced a new calendar, new coinage, and seven new government departments, during his reign, and made military innovations in the use of rocketry.
Tipu Sultan organised his Rocket artillery brigades known as Cushoon’s, Tipu Sultan expanded the number of servicemen in the various Cushoon’s from 1500 to almost 6000. The Mysorean rockets utilised by Tipu Sultan, were later updated by the British and successively employed during the Napoleonic Wars.
Tipu Sultan’s father had expanded on Mysore’s use of rocketry, making critical innovations in the rockets themselves and the military logistics of their use. He deployed as many as 1,200 specialised troops in his army to operate rocket launchers. These men were skilled in operating the weapons and were trained to launch their rockets at an angle calculated from the diameter of the cylinder and the distance to the target. The rockets had blades mounted on them, and could wreak significant damage when fired en masse against a large army. Tipu greatly expanded the use of rockets after Hyder’s death, deploying as many as 5,000 rocketeers at a time. The rockets deployed by Tipu during the Battle of Pollilur were much more advanced than those the British East India Company had previously seen, chiefly because of the use of iron tubes for holding the propellant; this enabled higher thrust and longer range for the missiles (up to 2 km range).
British accounts describe the use of the rockets during the third and fourth wars. During the climactic battle at Seringapatam in 1799, British shells struck a magazine containing rockets, causing it to explode and send a towering cloud of black smoke with cascades of exploding white light rising up from the battlements.
After Tipu’s defeat in the fourth war the British captured a number of the Mysorean rockets. These became influential in British rocket development, inspiring the Congreve rocket, which was soon put into use in the Napoleonic Wars.
In 1786 Tipu Sultan, again following the lead of his father, decided to build a navy consisting of 20 battleships of 72 cannons and 20 frigates of 62 cannons. In the year 1790 he appointed Kamaluddin as his Mir Bahar and established massive dockyards at Jamalabad and Majidabad. Tipu Sultan’s board of admiralty consisted of 11 commanders in service of a Mir Yam. A Mir Yam led 30 admirals and each one of them had two ships. By the year 1789 most of Tipu Sultan’s ships had copper-bottoms, an idea that increased the longevity of the ships and was introduced to Tipu by Admiral Suffren.
Attitude towards Hindus
As a Muslim ruler in a largely Hindu domain, Tipu Sultan faced problems in establishing the legitimacy of his rule, and in reconciling his desire to be seen as a devout Islamic ruler with the need to be pragmatic to avoid antagonising the majority of his subjects. His religious legacy has become a source of considerable controversy in the subcontinent. Some groups proclaim him a great warrior for the faith or Ghazi, while others revile him as a bigot who massacred Hindus.
During the early period of Tipu Sultan’s reign in particular, he appears to have been as strict as his father Hyder Ali against any non-Muslim accused of collaboration with the British East India Company or the Maratha. Some historians claim that Tipu Sultan was a religious persecutor of Hindus. In 1780, he declared himself to be the Badshah or Emperor of Mysore, and struck coinage in his own name without reference to the reigning Mughal Emperor Shah Alam II. H. D. Sharma writes that,in his correspondence with other Islamic rulers such as Zaman Shah of Afghanistan, Tipu Sultan used this title and declared that he intended to establish an Islamic empire in the entire country, along the lines of the Mughal Empire, which was at its decline during the period in question. He even invited him to invade India to help achieve this mission. His alliance with the French was supposedly aimed at achieving this goal by driving his main rivals, the British, out of the subcontinent.
It is believed that Tipu ordered Shamaiya Iyengar to be blinded. However, Tipu himself forgave Shamaiya when Shamaiya’s son bravely defended against the British during the last Anglo-Mysore War, dying due to a gunshot in the chest.
Criticism of British accounts
Brittlebank, Hasan, Chetty, Habib and Saletare, amongst others, argue that stories of Tipu Sultan’s religious persecution of Hindus and Christians are largely derived from the work of early British authors such as Kirkpatrick and Wilks, whom they do not consider to be entirely reliable. A. S. Chetty argues that Wilks’ account in particular cannot be trusted, Irfan Habib and Mohibbul Hasan argues that these early British authors had a strong vested interest in presenting Tipu Sultan as a tyrant from whom the British had liberated Mysore. This assessment is echoed by Brittlebank in her recent work where she writes that Wilks and Kirkpatrick must be used with particular care as both authors had taken part in the wars against Tipu Sultan and were closely connected to the administrations of Lord Cornwallis and Richard Wellesley, 1st Marquess Wellesley.
Forcible conversions to Islam
Tipu sent a letter on 19 January 1790 to the Governor of Bekal, Budruz Zuman Khan. It says:
“Don’t you know I have achieved a great victory recently in Malabar and over four lakh Hindus were converted to Islam? I am determined to march against that cursed Raman Nair (Rajah of Travancore) very soon. Since I am overjoyed at the prospect of converting him and his subjects to Islam, I have happily abandoned the idea of going back to Srirangapatanam now.”
On the handle of the sword presented by Tipu to Marquess Wellesley was the following inscription:
“My victorious sabre is lightning for the destruction of the unbelievers. Ali, the Emir of the Faithful, is victorious for my advantage. And moreover, he destroyed the wicked race who were unbelievers. Praise be to him (God), who is the Lord of the Worlds! Thou art our Lord, support us against the people who are unbelievers. He to whom the Lord giveth victory prevails over all (mankind). Oh Lord, make him victorious, who promoteth the faith of Muhammad. Confound him, who refuseth the faith of Muhammad; and withhold us from those who are so inclined from the true faith. The Lord is predominant over his own works. Victory and conquest are from the Almighty. Bring happy tidings, Oh Muhammad, to the faithful; for God is the kind protector and is the most merciful of the merciful. If God assists thee, thou will prosper. May the Lord God assist thee, Oh Muhammad, with a mighty great victory.”
During a search of his palace in 1795, some gold medals were found in the palace, on which the following was inscribed on one side in Persian: “Of God the bestower of blessings”, and the other: “victory and conquest are from the Almighty”. These were carved in commemoration of a victory after the war of 1780. The following is a translation of an inscription on the stone found at Seringapatam, which was situated in a conspicuous place in the fort:
“Oh Almighty God! dispose the whole body of infidels! Scatter their tribe, cause their feet to stagger! Overthrow their councils, change their state, destroy their very root! Cause death to be near them, cut off from them the means of sustenance! Shorten their days! Be their bodies the constant object of their cares (i.e., infest them with diseases), deprive their eyes of sight, make black their faces (i.e., bring shame).”
In 1788, Tipu ordered his governor in Calicut Sher Khan to begin the process of converting Hindus to Islam, and in July of that year, 200 Brahmins were forcibly converted and made to eat beef. Mohibbul Hasan, Prof. Sheikh Ali, and other historians cast great doubt on the scale of the deportations and forced conversions in Coorg in particular, and Hasan says that the British versions of what happened were intended to malign Tipu Sultan, and to be used as propaganda against him. He argues that little reliance can be placed in Muslim accounts such as Kirmani’s Nishan-e Haidari; in their anxiety to represent the Sultan as a champion of Islam, they had a tendency to exaggerate and distort the facts: Kirmani claims that 70,000 Coorgis were converted, when forty years later the entire population of Coorg was still less than that number. According to Ramchandra Rao Punganuri the true number of converts was about 500. The portrayal of Tipu Sultan as a religious bigot is disputed, and some sources[which?] suggest that he in fact often embraced religious pluralism.
Attempts at replacing Kannada terms and place names
Among his many innovations, Tipu introduced new coin denominations and new coin types, including this handsome copper double paisa weighing over 23 gm. The coin on the left also contains the emblem of the Sultanate of Mysore.
Tipu strengthened and instituted education in Persian and Urdu among Muslims in the Mysore region. To this day, unlike Muslims in Kerala and Tamil Nadu, Muslims in southern Karnataka use Urdu.
Furthermore, he brought into place the use of Islamic terms, such as khata, sanad, the use of ‘bin’ to denote ‘son of’ into administration; and these terms have been in use ever since. Tipu is also known to have attempted to assign Islamic names to several places. For example, Yousufabad for Devanahalli, Nasarabad for Mysore, Farukhyab Hisar for Chitradurga, Faiz Hisar for Gutti, Jalalabad for Mangalore, Kusanabad for Cannanore, Sultanpatanam or Faruqui for Bepur (Vaippura), Quarshed-Sawad for Dharwad, Mustafavad for Ratnagiri, Khaliqabad for Dindigul, and Islamabad for Calicut.
Employment of Hindus
Tipu Sultan’s treasurer was Krishna Rao, Shamaiya Iyengar was his Minister of Post and Police, his brother Ranga Iyengar was also an officer, and Purnaiya held the very important post of “Mir Asaf”. Moolchand and Sujan Rai were his chief agents at the Mughal court, and his chief “Peshkar”, Suba Rao, was also a Hindu.
Tipu’s gifts to Hindu institutions
Rajah Cawn and David Baird, discovering the fallen body of Tipu Sultan after the Siege of Seringapatam in the year 1799. Engraving after a painting by David Wilkie.
In 1791, some Maratha horsemen under Raghunath Rao Patwardhan raided the temple and matha of Sringeri Shankaracharya, killing and wounding many, and plundering the monastery of all its valuable possessions. The incumbent Shankaracharya petitioned Tipu Sultan for help. A bunch of about 30 letters written in Kannada, which were exchanged between Tipu Sultan’s court and the Sringeri Shankaracharya were discovered in 1916 by the Director of Archaeology in Mysore. Tipu Sultan expressed his indignation and grief at the news of the raid, and wrote:
“People who have sinned against such a holy place are sure to suffer the consequences of their misdeeds at no distant date in this Kali age in accordance with the verse: “Hasadbhih kriyate karma rudadbhir-anubhuyate” (People do [evil] deeds smilingly but suffer the consequences crying).”
He immediately ordered the Asaf of Bednur to supply the Swami with 200 rahatis (fanams) in cash and other gifts and articles. Tipu Sultan’s interest in the Sringeri temple continued for many years, and he was still writing to the Swami in the 1790s CE.
In light of this and other events, B.A. Saletare has described Tipu Sultan as a defender of the Hindu dharma, who also patronised other temples including one at Melkote, for which he issued a Kannada decree that the Shrivaishnava invocatory verses there should be recited in the traditional form. The temple at Melkote still has gold and silver vessels with inscriptions indicating that they were presented by the Sultan. Tipu Sultan also presented four silver cups to the Lakshmikanta Temple at Kalale. Tipu Sultan does seem to have repossessed unauthorised grants of land made to Brahmins and temples, but those which had proper sanads were not. It was a normal practice for any ruler, Muslim or Hindu, on his accession or on the conquest of new territory.
There is such evidence as grant deeds, and correspondence between his court and temples, and his having donated jewellery and deeded land grants to several temples, which some claim he was compelled to do in order to make alliances with Hindu rulers. Between 1782 and 1799 Tipu Sultan issued 34 sanads (deeds) of endowment to temples in his domain, while also presenting many of them with gifts of silver and gold plate. The Srikanteswara Temple in Nanjangud still possesses a jewelled cup presented by the Sultan.
To another temple, Nanjundeswara, in the same town of Nanjungud, he gave a greenish linga; to Ranganatha temple at Seringapatam he gifted seven silver cups and a silver camphor burner. This temple was hardly a stone’s throw from his palace from where he would listen with equal respect to the ringing of temple bells and the muezzin’s call from the mosque.
Attitude towards Christians
The Jamalabad fort route. Mangalorean Catholics had travelled through this route on their way to Seringapatam
Tipu is regarded to be anti-Christian by some historians. The captivity of Mangalorean Catholics at Seringapatam, which began on 24 February 1784 and ended on 4 May 1799, remains the most disconsolate memory in their history.
The Barcoor Manuscript reports him as having said: “All Musalmans should unite together, and considering the annihilation of infidels as a sacred duty, labour to the utmost of their power, to accomplish that subject.” Soon after the Treaty of Mangalore in 1784, Tipu gained control of Canara. He issued orders to seize the Christians in Canara, confiscate their estates, and deport them to Seringapatam, the capital of his empire, through the Jamalabad fort route. However, there were no priests among the captives. Together with Fr. Miranda, all the 21 arrested priests were issued orders of expulsion to Goa, fined Rupees 2 lakhs, and threatened death by hanging if they ever returned.
Tipu ordered the destruction of 27 Catholic churches, all beautifully carved with statues depicting various saints. Among them included the Church of Nossa Senhora de Rosario Milagres at Mangalore, Fr Miranda’s Seminary at Monte Mariano, Church of Jesu Marie Jose at Omzoor, Chapel at Bolar, Church of Merces at Ullal, Imaculata Conceiciao at Mulki, San Jose at Perar, Nossa Senhora dos Remedios at Kirem, Sao Lawrence at Karkal, Rosario at Barkur, Immaculata Conceciao at Baidnur. All were razed to the ground, with the exception of The Church of Holy Cross at Hospet, owing to the friendly offices of the Chauta Raja of Moodbidri.
According to Thomas Munro, a Scottish soldier and the first collector of Canara, around 60,000 people, nearly 92 percent of the entire Mangalorean Catholic community, were captured; only 7,000 escaped. Francis Buchanan gives the numbers as 70,000 captured, from a population of 80,000, with 10,000 escaping. They were forced to climb nearly 4,000 feet (1,200 m) through the jungles of the Western Ghat mountain ranges. It was 210 miles (340 km) from Mangalore to Seringapatam, and the journey took six weeks. According to British Government records, 20,000 of them died on the march to Seringapatam. According to James Scurry, a British officer, who was held captive along with Mangalorean Catholics, 30,000 of them were forcibly converted to Islam. The young women and girls were forcibly made wives of the Muslims living there. The young men who offered resistance were disfigured by cutting their noses, upper lips, and ears. According to Mr. Silva of Gangolim, a survivor of the captivity, if a person who had escaped from Seringapatam was found, the punishment under the orders of Tipu was the cutting off of the ears, nose, the feet and one hand.
The Archbishop of Goa wrote in 1800, “It is notoriously known in all Asia and all other parts of the globe of the oppression and sufferings experienced by the Christians in the Dominion of the King of Kanara, during the usurpation of that country by Tipu Sultan from an implacable hatred he had against them who professed Christianity.” Tipu Sultan’s rule of the Malabar Coast had an adverse impact on the Saint Thomas Christian community. Many churches in Malabar and Cochin were damaged. The old Syrian Nasrani seminary at Angamaly which had been the centre of Catholic religious education for several centuries was razed to the ground by Tipu’s soldiers. A lot of centuries old religious manuscripts were lost forever. The church was later relocated to Kottayam where it still exists. The Mor Sabor church at Akaparambu and the Martha Mariam Church attached to the seminary were destroyed as well. Tipu’s army set fire to the church at Palayoor and attacked the Ollur Church in 1790. Furthernmore, the Arthat church and the Ambazhakkad seminary was also destroyed. Over the course of this invasion, many Saint Thomas Christians were killed or forcibly converted to Islam. Most of the coconut, arecanut, pepper and cashew plantations held by Christian farmers were also indiscriminately destroyed by the invading army. As a result, when Tipu’s army invaded Guruvayur and adjacent areas, the Syrian Christian community fled Calicut and small towns like Arthat to new centres like Kunnamkulam, Chalakudi, Ennakadu, Cheppadu, Kannankode, Mavelikkara, etc. where there were already Christians. They were given refuge by Sakthan Tamburan, the ruler of Cochin and Karthika Thirunal, the ruler of Travancore, who gave them lands, plantations and encouraged their businesses. Colonel Maculay, the British resident of Travancore also helped them.
Tipu’s persecution of Christians even extended to captured British soldiers. For instance, there were a significant number of forced conversions of British captives between 1780 and 1784. Following their disastrous defeat at the 1780 Battle of Pollilur, 7,000 British men along with an unknown number of women were held captive by Tipu in the fortress of Seringapatnam. Of these, over 300 were circumcised and given Muslim names and clothes and several British regimental drummer boys were made to wear ghagra cholis and entertain the court as nautch girls or dancing girls. After the 10 year long captivity ended, James Scurry, one of those prisoners, recounted that he had forgotten how to sit in a chair and use a knife and fork. His English was broken and stilted, having lost all his vernacular idiom. His skin had darkened to the swarthy complexion of negroes, and moreover, he had developed an aversion to wearing European clothes.
During the surrender of the Mangalore fort which was delivered in an armistice by the British and their subsequent withdrawal, all the Mestizos and remaining non-British foreigners were killed, together with 5,600 Mangalorean Catholics. Those condemned by Tipu Sultan for treachery were hanged instantly, the gibbets being weighed down by the number of bodies they carried. The Netravati River was so putrid with the stench of dying bodies, that the local residents were forced to leave their riverside homes.
Treatment of prisoners
According to historian Professor Sheikh Ali, the Tipu “took his stand on the bedrock of humanity, regarding all his subjects as equal citizen to live in peace, harmony and concord.” However, during the storming of Seringapatam by the British in 1799, thirteen murdered British prisoners were discovered, killed by either having their necks broken or nails driven into their skulls.
Letters sent by Tipu to his officers encouraged the practice of forced conversion of prisoners and imprisonment of women and children.
He was also responsible for extreme brutality and forced conversions towards nearly 30,000 Nairs who were held captive at Srirangapatna between 1786 to 1789. Out of 30,000 captives, only a few hundred returned alive after captivity.
Tipu Sultan’s prestigious legacy was aggrandized soon after his death by the Salar Jung the Vizier of the Nizam of Hyderabad in the year 1839. He is revered as a hero and a freedom fighter in India and Pakistan.
The mausoleum housing Tipu’s tomb is another example of Islamic architecture. Tipu’s flag is in the foreground.
The tomb of Tipu Sultan at Srirangapatna. Tipu’s tomb is adjacent to his mother’s and father’s graves.
Tipu Sultan had four wives, by whom he had 16 sons named below and at least 8 daughters. The fate of his 8 daughters is unknown.
- Shahzada Hyder Ali Sultan Sahib (1771-30 July 1815)
- Shahzada Abdul Khaliq Sultan Sahib (1782-12 September 1806)
- Shahzada Muhi-ud-din Sultan Sahib (1782-30 September 1811)
- Shahzada Mu’izz-ud-din Sultan Sahib (1783-30 March 1818)
- Shahzada Mi’raj-ud-din Sultan Sahib (1784?-?)
- Shahzada Mu’in-ud-din Sultan Sahib (1784?-?)
- Shahzada Muhammad Yasin Sultan Sahib (1784-15 March 1849)
- Shahzada Muhammad Subhan Sultan Sahib (1785-27 September 1845)
- Shahzada Muhammad Shukrullah Sultan Sahib (1785-25 September 1837)
- Shahzada Sarwar-ud-din Sultan Sahib (1790-20 October 1833)
- Shahzada Muhammad Nizam-ud-din Sultan Sahib (1791-20 October 1791)
- Shahzada Muhammad Jamal-ud-din Sultan Sahib (1795-13 November 1842)
- Shahzada Munir-ud-din Sultan Sahib (1795-1 December 1837)
- His Highness Shahzada Sir Ghulam Muhammad Sultan Sahib, KCSI (March 1795-11 August 1872)
- Shahzada Ghulam Ahmad Sultan Sahib (1796-11 April 1824)
- Shahzada …………. Sultan Sahib (1797–1797)
Tipu Sultan’s family was sent to Calcutta by the British. A descendent of one of Tipu Sultan’s uncles Noor Inayat Khan was a British Special Operations Executive agent during the Second World War, murdered in the German Dachau concentration camp in 1944.
Sword and tiger
Tipu Sultan’s Tiger. Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Tipu Sultan had lost his sword in a war with the Nairs of Travancore during the Battle of the Nedumkotta, in which he was defeated. The Nair army under the leadership of Raja Kesavadas again defeated the Mysore army near Aluva. The Maharaja, Dharma Raja, gifted the famous sword to the Nawab of Arcot, from where the sword went to London. The sword was on display at the Wallace Collection, No. 1 Manchester Square, London. At an auction in London in 2004, the industrialist-politician Vijay Mallya purchased the sword of Tipu Sultan and some other historical artefacts, and brought them back to India for public display after nearly two centuries.
Tipu was commonly known as the Tiger of Mysore and adopted this animal as the symbol of his rule. It is said that Tipu Sultan was hunting in the forest with a French friend. He came face to face with a tiger. His gun did not work, and his dagger fell on the ground as the tiger jumped on him. He reached for the dagger, picked it up, and killed the tiger with it. That earned him the name “the Tiger of Mysore”. He even had French engineers build a mechanical tiger for his palace. The device, known as Tipu’s Tiger, is on display in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Not only did Tipu place relics of tigers around his palace and domain, he also had the emblem of a tiger on his banners and even on some arms and weapons. Sometimes this tiger was very ornate and had inscriptions within the drawing, alluding to Tipu’s faith. Historian Alexander Beatson reported that “in his palace was found a great variety of curious swords, daggers, fusils, pistols, and blunderbusses; some were of exquisite workmanship, mounted with gold, or silver, and beautifully inlaid and ornamented with tigers’ heads and stripes, or with Persian and Arabic verses”.
- In Jules Verne’s Mysterious Island, Captain Nemo is described as a nephew of Tipu Sultan.
- Tipu Sultan’s life and adventures were the central theme of a short-running South Indian television series “The Adventures of Tipu Sultan”, and of a more popular national television series “The Sword of Tipu Sultan”.
- Naseem Hijazi’s novels Muazam Ali and Aur Talvar Ṭūṭ Gaye (And The Sword Broke) describe Tipu Sultan’s wars.
- Wilkie Collins’s novel The Moonstone contains an account of Tipu Sultan and the Fall of Srirangapattana in the prologue.
- In The Surprising Adventures of Baron Munchausen by Rudolf Erich Raspe, Munchausen vanquishes Tippoo near the end of the novel.
- Sharpe’s Tiger is a novel in which Napoleonic soldier Richard Sharpe fights at the Battle of Seringapatam, later killing Tipu Sultan.
- The Only King Who Died on the Battlefield: An Historical Novel Based on Truth (published in 2006), was written by a US-Pakistani resident and a young college student Mohammed Faisal Iftikhar. The novel claims that in recent history, Tipu Sultan is the only king who died on the battlefield.
- Tipu Sultan appears as a “Great Person” in the video game, Sid Meier’s Civilization: Revolution.
- In his historical novels on the Seringapatam captivity of Konkani Catholics by the Konkani littérateur V.J.P. Saldanha, Belthangaddicho Balthazar (Balthazar of Belthangady), Devache Krupen (By the Grace of God), Sardarachi Sinol (The sign of the Knights) and Infernachi Daram (The gates of Hell), Tipu is portrayed as cunning, haughty, hard-hearted, revengeful, yet full of self control.
A beautifully written /crafted urdu book by Naseem Hijazi a famous urdu novel writer from Pakistan.
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- Muhammad Bin Qasim
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- So 100 Saal Baad
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- Qaisr o Kisra
- Tipu Sultan
- Moazzam Ali
- Pardesi Darkht
- kaleesa aur aag
- Qafla e Hijaz
- Insaan Aur Devta
- Aur Talwaar Toot Gaye
- Andheri Raat Ke Musafir
- Aakhari Marka
- Yousuf bin Tashfin
- Gumshuda Qaafle
- Aakhri Chatan
- Daastan e Mujahid
- Khak Aur Khoon Part 3
- Khak Aur Khoon Part 2
- Khak Aur Khoon Part 1
- Pardesi Darkht
- Dastaan e Mujahid
- Qaisar o Kisra Part 4
- Qaisar o Kisra Part 3
- Qaisar o Kisra Part 2
- Qaisar o Kisra Part 1
- Muhammad Bin Qasim Part 2
- Muhammad Bin Qasim Part 1
- Gumshuda Qaafle
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- Akhri Chatan 2
- Akhri Chatan 1
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- 100 Saal Baad
- Saqafat Ki Talash
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