Tipu Sultan

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Tipu sultan's summer palace

Tipu Sultan, also known as Tipu Sahib (December 10, 1750, Devanhalli - May 4, 1799) was ruler of the Kingdom of Mysore from 1782, and one of the primary native sources of resistance to the establishment of British rule in India. He was nicknamed The Tiger of Mysore for this resistance.

He was instructed in military tactics by French officers in the employment of his father, Haider Ali. In 1767 in the invasion of the Carnatic he commanded a corps of cavalry, and he distinguished himself in the First Anglo-Maratha War of 1775-1779.

At the age of 15, when he accompanied his father Hyder Ali to war against the British in the First Mysore War. He was put at the head of a large body of troops, and defeated Brathwaite on the banks of the Coleroon in February 1782.

The Second Mysore War followed five years later, and though the British were defeated this time, Tipu Sultan became convinced that the British were a new kind of threat in India. Upon becoming Sultan after his father's death in 1782, he worked to check British advances through a series of alliances. At first he attempted to secure pacts with the Marathas and the Mughal Empire.

When this failed, he turned to France, which had been a rising European power in India in decades previous, but had had their strength broken by the Seven Years' War. Expecting more from the alliance than he was to get, in 1789 he invaded the nearby state of Travancore, which was a British protectorate. This sparked the Third Mysore War, which lasted three years and resulted in a resounding defeat for Mysore. Poor timing - France became embroiled in the French Revolution at the start of the war - was a key factor in the loss.

Tipu Sultan's death was caused by the Fourth Mysore War. Napoleon's landing in Egypt in 1798 was intended to threaten India, and Mysore was a key to that next step. Although Horatio Nelson crushed Napoleon's ambitions at the Battle of the Nile, three armies - one from Bombay, and two British (one of which was commanded by Arthur Wellesley the future 1st Duke of Wellington) - nevertheless marched into Mysore in 1799 and besieged the capital, Srirangapatnam. On May 4, the armies broke through the defending walls and Tipu Sultan died of a gunshot wound near the gates of his fortress.

One notable military advance championed by Tipu Sultan and his father, Hyder Ali was the use of mass attacks with rocket brigades in the army. Tipu wrote a military manual called 'Fathul Mujahidin' in which he described 200 rocketmen as being assigned to each Mysorean 'cushoon'. The areas of town where rockets and fireworks were manufactured were known as Taramandal Pet (roughly translated as Galaxy Place).

A study of similar Maratha rockets (about 2000 of which were fired simultaneously at the battle of Panipat by the Marathas) led to the publication of 'A Concise Account of the Origin and Progress of the Rocket System' in 1804 by William Congreve.

Many historians have regarded Tipu's rule as one that fostered secular and liberal views. An interesting aspect of Tipu's life was that he was a founder-member of the Jacobin Club. While accepting the membership, he declared of France thus -

" Behold my acknowledgement of the standard of your country, which is dear to me, and to which I am allied; it shall always be supported in my country, as it has been in the Republic, my sister !"

He then proceeded to call himself "Citizen Tipu Sultan", a radical shift in the policy of an Indian ruler, among his contemporaries who in general, tolerated no liberal or socialist opinions.

In fiction

"Tippoo Sahib" is the uncle of Jules Verne's Captain Nemo.

External links

kn:ಟೀಪು ಸುಲ್ತಾನ್

In fiction he was killed by Richard Sharpe from the novels by Bernard Cromwell


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