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Tipu Sultan- The Tiger of Mysore - Tollybeats

Tipu Sultan- The Tiger of Mysore

Updated | July 2, 2017 11:16 IST

Tipu Sultan (Sayyid walShareef Sultan Fateh Ali Sahab Tipu), was popular as ‘the Tiger of Mysore’ and ‘Tipu Sahib’, a powerful ruler of the Kingdom of Mysore. He was born on 10th November  1750 at Devanahalli in a Najeeb AlTarfayn family, the eldest son of Haider Ali of Mysore.

Tipu's mother Fatima Fakhr-un-Nisa was the daughter of Mir Moin-Ud-Din, the governor of the fort of Kadapa. Hyder Ali appointed able teachers to give Tipu an early education in subjects like Urdu, Persian, Arabic, Islamic, Kannada, Quran, jurisprudence, riding, shooting and fencing.

Haider Ali who was given the best education to Tipu has given independent charge of important diplomatic and military missions at the age of 17. 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.

Second Anglo-Mysore War: 

The British were captured the port Mahe’ of French which placed under the protection of Tipu Sultan. This French fort was guarded by some troops of Tipu in 1779. Later, Haider launched an invasion with an aim to drive 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 September 1780 and the Tipu Sultan defeated Baillie in the Battle of Pollilur comprehensively.  On hearing the news of the defeat, Munro who was moving south with a separate force to join Baillie immediately retreat to Madras, abandoning his artillery in a water tank at Kanchipuram.

Tipu Sultan’ conquered almost all the battles which he fought. On 18th February 1782, he defeated Colonel Braithwaite at Annagudi near Tanjore and seized all the guns and cavalry of B. Braithwaite's forces. Tipu Sultan successfully seized Chittur from the British in December 1781 and thus gained sufficient military experience by the time.

Post Hyder Ali died on 6 December 1782, Friday, Tipu Sultan became the emperor of Mysore. There were different dates about Tipu Sultan’ coronation as per Persian records.  He became the ruler of Mysore on 22nd December 1782, Sunday in a simple coronation ceremony as per some inscriptions. Tipu Sultan who realized that the British were a new kind of threat to India had worked on 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, which was said to be the most prestigious document in the history of India. It was the last occasion when an Indian king dictated terms to the British.

Tanjore Abductions:

The Second Mysore War also remembered for alleged excesses committed by Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan in Tanjore. During the period, Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan were destroyed crops and cattle. The ravages of Hyder and Tipu were followed by alleged expeditions of plunder launched by the Kallars lead to the economic devastation where the economy of Tanjore did not recover until the start of the 19th century. The era is referred to in local folklore as the Hyderakalam.

Tipu Sultan as Ruler:

Tipu Sultan became skillful in combat techniques under the guidance of Sardar, Muhammad bin Ali AlKubaydan, and Ghazi Khan. During his reign, he completed the project of Lal Bagh started by his father Hyder Ali and built roads, public buildings, and ports in his kingdom. His dominion extended throughout North Bangalore including the Nandi Hills and Chickballapur. 

His trade extended to countries such as Sri Lanka, Oman, Durrani Afghanistan, France, Ottoman Turkey, and Iran. Under his leadership, the Mysore army proved to be a school of military science to Indian princes. The serious blows of Tipu Sultan affected the reputation of the British as an invincible power in the First and Second Mysore Wars.

Tipu who engaged in expansionist attacks against his neighbors has become an implacable enemy of the British East India Company, bringing them into renewed conflict with his attack on British-allied Travancore in 1789. In the Third Anglo-Mysore War, he was forced into the humiliating Treaty of Seringapatam, losing a number of previously conquered territories, including Malabar and Mangalore. He sent emissaries to foreign states, including the Ottoman Empire, Afghanistan, and France, in an attempt to rally opposition to the British. 

Tipu Sultan introduced a number of administrative innovations during his rule, including his coinage, a new Mauludi lunisolar calendar, and a new land revenue system which initiated the growth of Mysore silk industry. He expanded the iron-cased Mysorean rockets and commissioned the military manual Fathul Mujahidin. He is considered a pioneer in the use of rocket artillery. Tipu Sultan deployed the rockets against advances of British forces and their allies in their 1792 and 1799 Siege of Srirangapatna.

War against Maratha Confederacy:

The Maratha Empire regained most of the Indian subcontinent and defeated Tipu's father twice under under its new Peshwa Madhavrao I. He 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 Srirangapatnam, 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 the leadership of General Nana Phadnavis. The Marathas took many forts of Tipu Sultan in the Mysore region Badami, Kittur, and Gajendragad in June 1786. Post victorious in this war, the border of the Maratha territory was extended to the Tungabhadra river which forced Tipu to open negotiations with the Maratha leadership. He sent two of his agents to the Maratha capital of Pune. The deal that was finalized resulted in the Maratha's recovering their territories which had been invaded by Mysore. Furthermore, the Nizam of Hyderabad received Adoni and Mysore was obligated to pay 4.8 million rupees as a war cost to the Marathas, and an annual tribute of 1.2 million rupees; in return, the Marathas recognized the rule of Tipu in the Mysore region.

Sringeri incident:

The Sringeri incident which came into light by excavations of Mysore archaeologist and it proved that he was not completely against the Hindus. And his respect for Hindu religion. 

The Maratha army 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 through a bunch of about 30 letters written in Kannada, which was exchanged between Tipu Sultan's court and the Sringeri Shankaracharya was discovered in 1916.  Tipu Sultan expressed his indignation and grief at the news of the raid:

"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.

Foreign Relations and his impact on Napolean:

Both he and his father were independent rulers of 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. Tipu Sultan was disheartened but not disappointed and began to establish contacts with other Muslim rulers of that period.

Post 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 the Afghan Durrani Empire, so they could defeat the British and Marathas. Initially, Zaman Shah agreed to help Tipu, but the Persian attack on Afghanistan's Western border diverted its forces, and hence no help could be provided to Tipu.

In the year 1787, Tipu Sultan sent an embassy to the Ottoman capital Istanbul, to the Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid requesting urgent assistance against the British East India Company and had proposed an offensive and defensive consortium. He requested the Ottoman Sultan to send him troops and military experts. 

Besides, he 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 the crisis and still recuperating from the devastating Austro-Ottoman War followed by a new conflict with the Russian Empire. Ottoman Turkey which needed British alliance to keep off the Russians became hostile in Tipu and British war. 

Due to the Ottoman-inability to organize 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. Nevertheless, Tipu Sultan's correspondence with the Ottoman Turkish Empire and particularly its new Sultan Selim III continued till his final battle in the year 1799.

Tipu sought support from the French, who had been his traditional allies, aimed at driving his main rivals, the British East India Company out of the subcontinent. With the aspiration to extend the French influence in India at the cost of the British, Louis XVI, in 1782, sealed an alliance with the Peshwa Madhu Rao Narayan. This treaty enabled Bussy to move his troops to the Isle de France (now Mauritius). In the same year, French Admiral, De Suffren ceremonially presented a portrait of Louis XVI to Haidar Ali and sought his alliance.

Like his father, 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. 

Regional interests and clever British diplomacy left Tipu with more enemies and betrayers, but no allies when he needed them the most in the final and Fourth Mysore War with the British.

Napoleon, while still not the Emperor of France, sought an alliance with Tipu Sultan. Napoleon came as far as conquering Egypt in an attempt to link with Tipu Sultan against the British, their common enemy. In February 1798, Napoleon wrote a letter to Tipu Sultan appreciating his efforts of resisting the British annexation and plans, but this letter never reached Tipu and was seized by a British spy in Muscat. The idea of a possible Tipu-Napoleon alliance alarmed the British Governor General Sir Richard Wellesley, who was known as Lord Wellesley so much that he immediately started large-scale preparations for a final battle against Tipu Sultan.

Both Tipu Sultan and the French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte were defeated by the same English General, Arthur Wellesley. In the final siege and fall of Srirangapatna in 1799, General Arthur Wellesley led the British army into the city after the fall of Tipu Sultan. 

Fourth Anglo-Mysore War and Death:

In the Fourth Anglo-Mysore War, the forces of the British East India Company, supported by the Marathas and the Nizam of Hyderabad defeated Tipu and he was killed on 4 May 1799 while defending his fort of Srirangapatna. Tipu Sultan's image in India is complex: on the one hand, he is regarded as a secular ruler who fought against British colonialism but, on the other hand, he is controversial for his suppression of political dissent among Hindus, Christians and Mappla Muslims. He is said to have forced Manglore Catholics to convert to Islam. Also during his reign, only three temples of his kingdom were able to offer daily Pooja.


Tipu Sultan was one of the first Indian kings to be killed on the battlefield while defending his Kingdom against the Colonial British. In India, while many historians generally take a favorable view of his reign, others portray him as a Muslim fanatic. Tipu has been recognized as a freedom fighter by the Government of Karnataka (under Congress rule). 

Tipu Sultan is held in high esteem in Pakistan where most people consider Tipu Sultan as a hero of the Indian independence movement. The country has honored him by naming Pakistan Navy ship PNS Tippu Sultan after Tipu Sultan. Pakistan television aired a drama on Tipu Sultan directed by Qasim Jalali.

Pakistan Postal Services issued a commemorative postage stamp on 23 March 1979 in honor of him in its 'Pioneers of Freedom' series.

Tipu who was popular as the Tiger of Mysore had adopted this animal as the symbol of his rule. There was a story behind this title. Tipu Sultan who was hunting in the forest along with a French friend had come face to face with a tiger. At the time, his gun did not work followed by, 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 who build a mechanical tiger for his palace. The device, known as Tipu Sultan's Tiger, which is on display in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. His place relics of tigers around his palace and domain, but also had the emblem of a tiger on his banners and some arms and weapons. Sometimes this tiger was very ornate and had inscriptions within the drawing, alluding to Tipu's faith. 

The last sword and the ring used by Tipu Sultan in his last battle at Sri Rangapatna were taken by the British forces.


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