Tipu Sultan – The Ruler of Mysore

Tipu Sultan, the Tiger of Mysore was born 20th November 1750 at Devanahalli, Bangalore city, also known as Tippoo Sahib, was a ruler of the kingdom of Mysore. He was the eldest son of Sultan Hyder Ali of Mysore and his wife Fatima Fakhr-un-Nisa. Tipu Sultan was a well famous administrator of Mysore at the same time he was a Scholar, Soldier, and Poet.

Tipu Sultan introduced a number of administrative innovations during his rule, including the introduction of a new coinage, a new Maludi lunisolar calendar, and a new land revenue system, initiating the growth of Mysore silk industry. Tipu expanded the iron-cased Mysorean rockets which he deployed in his resistance against military advances of the British.

Tipu won important victories against the British in the second Anglo-Mysore war. In the third Anglo-Mysore war, Tipu Sultan was forced into a humiliating treaty (a written agreement between two states), losing a number of previously conquered territories, including Malabar and Mangalore. In the fourth Anglo-Mysore war, the combined forces of the British East India Company, Maratha’s and the Nizam of Hyderabad defeated Tipu and he was killed on 4th May 1799.

Ruler of Mysore (1750-1799):

Muhammad Falak Ali taught Tipu Sultan how to fight. While leading a predominantly Hindu country, Tipu Sultan remained strong in his Muslim faith, going daily to say his prayers and paying special attention to mosques in the area. During his rule, he was doing lots of projects. He completed Lal Bagh project started by his father Hyder Ali.

He built roads, public buildings, and ports along the Kerala shoreline. Under his leadership, the Mysore army proved to be a school of military science to Indian princes. Tipu and his father have maintained a good relation with the Mughal emperor. Tipu Sultan maintained many embassies and made several contacts with Mohammad Ali khan, ruler of the Zand Dynasty in Persia. Tipu also maintained correspondence with Hamad Bin Said, the ruler of the Sultanate of Oman.

During Tipu’s rule, the administrative transactions within Mysore were done in Persian, Kannada, and Marathi. All of his key ministers were upper-caste Brahmins. Of course, his generous endowments to major Hindu temples and monastic orders in the State are well recorded. The 10-day grand Dasara celebrations continued with a member of the Woodier royal family presiding over the festivities. Besides, forcible religious conversions have not been documented anywhere in Mysore. The complex style of Tipu’s rule in Mysore should make it hard for anyone to simply view him as a religious fanatic.

He planned to expand his territories and set his eyes upon Travancore, which according to the Treaty of Mangalore, was an ally of the British East India Company. He launched an attack on the lines of Travancore in December 1789 but was met with resistance from the army of the Maharajah of Travancore. This marked the beginning of the Third Anglo-Mysore War. The Maharajah of Travancore appealed to the East India Company for help, and in response, Lord Cornwallis formed alliances with the Marathas and the Nizam of Hyderabad to oppose Tipu and built a strong military force.

The company forces attacked Tipu Sultan in 1790 and soon took control over much of the Coimbatore district. Tipu counterattacked but was not much successful in his campaigns. The conflicts continued for over two years and ended only after he signed the Treaty of Seringapatam in 1792 which resulted in his losing a number of territories, including Malabar and Mangalore.

Even though he had lost many of his territories, the courageous Tipu Sultan was still considered a formidable enemy by the British. In 1799, The East India Company, in alliances with the Marathas and the Nizam attacked Mysore in what became known as the Fourth Anglo-Mysore War and captured Srirangapatna, the capital of Mysore. Tipu Sultan was killed in the war.

War against Marathas:

The Maratha Empire, under Peshwa Madhavrao II, twice defeating Tipu’s father and also defeating Tipu Sultan and entered Srirangapatna, the capital of Mysore. The Marathas took many forts of Tipu Sultan in the Mysore region. This forced Tipu to open negotiations with the Maratha leadership. Tipu deal with Marathas, resulted in the Marathas recovering their territories which had been invaded by Mysore.

Religious Policy:

As a Muslim ruler in a largely Hindu domain, Tipu faced problems in establishing the legitimacy of his rule. He was a seen a strongly devout Islamic ruler with the need to be pragmatic to avoid antagonizing the majority of his subjects. In 1780, he declared himself to be the Badshah or Emperor of Mysore and struck coinage in his own name.

Promotion of the Urdu Language:

Tipu strengthened and instituted education in Urdu and Persian among Muslims in the Mysore region. He made Persian the official language throughout his kingdom.

Sword of Tipu Sultan:

After the death of Tipu Sultan, the British forces took away the Sword and Ring of Tipu Sultan as war trophies. Both the remnants of Tipu Sultan were displayed in the British Museum till 2004 after which Vijay Mallya, the liquor baron bought the sword of Tipu Sultan at an auction.

Tipu Sultan Jayanti:

Each year on 10th November Tipu Sultan Jayanti is being celebrated by the Government of Karnataka. The government has arranged some ceremony due to the birth of Tipu, who ruled most of Karnataka as its sultan, from his capital Srirangapattanan. The government avers that Tipu was a great patriot and freedom fighter, a man who gave his life in the war against the British, a man who raised the prestige of the Mysore kingdom to the highest pitch.

Meanwhile, K S Madhavan, associate professor, Department of History, University of Calicut, said that Tipu was a headache for British as he tried to resist them with the support of an empire. “His campaigns were meant to amass power against British, not to annihilate any community,” he said.