Saturday, May 30, 2009

Hyder Ali Tipu Sultan

Powerful and an audacious warrior, Tipu Sultan was called the `Tiger of Mysore.` He was born in the year 1753 near Mysore. He succeeded his father Hyder Ali as the king of Mysore in 1782. Tipu occupied the throne at a time when Mysore was fighting the crucial Second Mysore War with the British. The war ended in 1784 when Tipu Sultan and the English signed the Treaty of Mangalore. As per the treaty, both sides agreed to return the territories and the prisoners captured during the war.

Tipu Sultan of Mysore of IndiaTipu Sultan`s reforming zeal touched every department of life, including coinage and calendar, weights and measures banking and finance, trade and commerce, agriculture and industry, morals and manners as well as social and cultural life.He built many strong forts such as the Doorg in Nilgiris to defend his kingdom. The tiger was one of his favourite animals. Pictures of the tiger are seen on his throne and on the uniforms of his guards. He was a devout Muslim. He had a quest for seeking knowledge. His personal library consisted of more than 2000 books in different languages. He had a dignified personality and impressed the people he came into contact with. He was an enlightened ruler who treated his non-Muslim subjects with tolerance generally. He conferred liberal grants to Singeri, Srirangapatnam and Mangalore temples.

Although intolerant and cruel towards Christians and Hindus at times, he was a lover of art and culture. His palace at Srirangapatnam is known for its superb ornamentation. He minted a vast variety of coins from different mints. During his reign, French craftsmen worked in Mysore. One such artisan produced a wooden toy showing a tiger attacking a Britisher. The toy is now in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Like his father, Tipu too was buried at Srirangapatnam. Tipu was a tolerant ruler in the tradition of Islamic tolerance; he advised that `Religious tolerance is the fundamental tenet of the Quran` (Shahul Hameed).

The Third Mysore War
Tipu Sultan was a close friend of the French including Napoleon Bonaparte. Tipu wanted access to the sea so that he could get help from France to fight against the British in India. He sent three embassies to the French court in 1788 and obtained ivory, furniture, a porcelin coffee set and other gift items from France. In 1789, he attacked Travancore whose king was a friend of the English. Now, Cornwallis, the English Governor-general in India, entered into an agreement with the Maratha kings of Maharashtra and the Nizam of Hyderabad. The Marathas and the Nizam were earlier allies of Mysore. But now they become jealous of Tipu`s growing power. Hence, they decided to support the English. Cornwallis declared war on Mysore in 1790. The British captured Bangalore. They finally defeated Tipu near Srirangapatnam (Seringapatam).

The Third Mysore War ended with the Treaty of Srirangapatnam concluded between Mysore and the English in 1792. As per the treaty, Tipu was forced to surrender half his kingdom which the English, the Nizam and the Marathas divided this territory between themselves. Tipu also paid a war indemnity of L 300, 000 and surrendered two of his sons as hostages to the English.

The Fourth Mysore War
Unlike many other natice Indian rulers, TIpu Sultan, consistently refused to accept the over lordship of the British. On the contrary, he wanted to chase the British out from India. For this, he tried to secure help from France. In fact, Tipu trained his soldiers with the help of the French. He also sent envoys to Afghanistan, Arabia and Turkey.

By now Wellesley succeeded Cornwallis as the Governor-general in India. Wellesley did not like the presence of French advisores in Tipu`s court. The English declared war on Tipu in 1799. General Harris and Arthur Wellesley (the brother of the Governor-general) attacked Mysore. A British force from Bombay also attacked Mysore. Tipu was defeated at Malavalli. He died on 4th May 1799. Later, most of Tipu`s dominions were shared by the English and their ally, the Nizam of Hyderabad. A small part of the Mysore kingdom was restored to Krishna, a member of the old Hindu royal family from whom Hyder Ali had captured the throne of Mysore.

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