Haider Ali was born in 1722 and was the son of Fateh Mohammad, a Punjabi adventurer, who traced his lineage to the family of the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.). Haider Ali rose from poverty and came to notice of the ruler of Mysore as a brave soldier. In 1755, he became the Faujdar, or the Military Commander, and Jagirdar of Budikot in Mysore.
Though uneducated, Haider Ali displayed robust common sense, courage and determination, taking full advantage of every opportunity that came his way. Haider Ali copied the army organization and equipment of the English and the French. Charge of the whole army was entrusted to him in 1757 when the Marhattas attacked Mysore and the internal position of the state was in chaos. He rose to the occasion and forced the Marhattas to withdraw. The Maharaja gave him the title of Fateh Bahadur. In 1761, he rose to the position of Chief Minister of Mysore and continued to strengthen his power. By 1766, the Hindu ruler of Mysore was the head merely in name, while Haider Ali assumed unquestioned control. When the Raja died in 1766, Haider Ali became the actual ruler.
Haider Ali discharged his responsibilities with great ability and not only overcame the chaos within the state, but also took advantage of the prevailing anarchy in the south, adding fresh territory to Mysore and greatly extending its area. The Marhattas and the Nizam of Hyderabad, who continued to cause trouble for him, viewed the rise of Mysore with anxiety. His entire reign was almost taken up with military campaigns against the Nizam of Hyderabad, Nawab of Karnatic and the Marhattas who claimed Mysore to be part of their dominion. Both the Marhattas and the Nizam of Hyderabad on numerous occasions sided with the British in joint attacks on Mysore. In 1767, the British, in alliance with Hyderabad and the Marhattas, took the field against Haider Ali. In the first Mysore War, after some initial reverses, Haider Ali was able to defeat the British. Haider Ali took his army to the outskirts of Madras and dictated