Tipu Sultan, the eldest son of Haider Ali, was born on December 10, 1750 at Devanhalli. Right from his early years he was trained in the art of warfare and at the age of 15 he used to accompany his father Haider Ali, the ruler of Mysore, to different military campaigns. In Addition, he also learnt different languages, mathematics and science. Tipu Sultan had a fascination for learning. His personal library consisted of more than 2,000 books in different languages. He was an extremely active man and worked hard for the welfare of his subjects. He took over the kingdom of Mysore after the death of his father in 1782, who died of a carbuncle in the midst of a campaign against the British. He continued fighting the British and defeated them in 1783.
Tipu Sultan was a farsighted person who could foresee East India Company’s design to get entrenched in India. He therefore negotiated with the French for help and also sought assistance from the Amir of Afghanistan and the Sultan of Turkey. The British were scared of Tipu’s growing strength and after their defeat in 1783 they formed an alliance with the Nizam of Hyderabad and Marhattas. The French, however, deserted Tipu after the signing of the Treaty of Versailles. The British availed the chance with the help of the Nizam and the Marathas, and started the third Anglo-Mysore war in 1790.
As long as the British fought alone, Tipu always defeated them. But he could not come over their diplomacy, conspiracy and intrigue. Thus he was defeated in his capital, Seringapatam, and was forced to sign a humiliating treaty on March 22, 1792. As a result he had to concede half of his kingdom and pay an indemnity of 33 million rupees to the British and their allies. The alliance between the adversaries was soon broken and in 1795 the British, after defeating the Nizam, once again turned their attention towards Mysore. After the treaty at Seringapatam, Tipu Sultan did not waste his time and made extensive preparations against the British. He had rebuilt his war machine in the shortest possible time with the help of the French. The British regarded it as a violation of the treaty. This led to the start of the fourth Anglo-Mysore war in 1798 with the help of the Nizam. The French were unable to provide the needed support to Tipu Sultan. Tipu Sultan retreated to his capital and continued fighting till he breathed his last in May 1799. Tipu Sultan is buried at a mausoleum that he himself had built, along with his father Haider Ali and his mother Fatima Begum.
Tipu Sultan was a great patriot and like his father realized the danger of letting the British becoming stronger. Although much of the period of his rule was given to war with the Marhattas, the Nizam and the British, he made his state secure and peaceful with benevolent rule. He was an enlightened ruler who treated his non-Muslim subjects generously. He built a chain of excellent roads and constructed tanks and dams to promote agriculture. He introduced new industries, promoted trade and commerce on a large scale. Tipu prohibited the production and distribution of liquor and other intoxicants in Mysore. He also built and fortified numerous forts and many palaces, which were demolished by the British after his death. Bangalore Summer Palace still survives and is a remnant of his grand rule.
This article was last updated on Sunday, June 01, 2003