Kolkata, WEST BENGAL :
Tipu Sultan, the `Tiger of Mysore’, born Fateh Ali Sahab Tipu in 1750 at a place now part of Bengaluru, was never in Calcutta. But our city has two masjids in his name as descendants of his descendants live in our city. Last year, the government of Karnataka decided that November 10 will be annually celebrated as Tipu Sultan Jayanti. This attracted foolish objections from those who never learned from history but want to rewrite it and rip up the country’s social fabric. As Stephen Hawking succinctly puts it, “We spend a great deal of time studying history , which, let’s face it, is mostly the history of stupidity.”Tipu Sultan, the powerful ruler in south India during the 18th century , when the British themselves were taking over India in their empire-building frenzy , was a formidable opponent to their imperialistic ambitions.Unfortunately , he died on the battle field in 1799, one of the first Indian rulers to do that. However, he had also signed a treaty with the British seven years earlier by which he ceded half his kingdom and unable to pay the colonists some `300 lakh, had to accept his two minor sons being exiled to Calcutta.Although they were returned to their family two years later, a `mutiny’ in 1806 resulted in the entire family and entourage of about 300 people literally being shipped off to Calcutta. This included Tipu’s 11th son, Prince Ghulam Mohammed Anwar Shah. Ghulam Mohammed is remembered today , if at all, by the name of the road that skirts around the Royal Calcutta Golf Club (RCGC) and arrives at the Golf Green area.
The family was settled in hutments on marshy tracts of land in Russapugla, the area which now houses Tollygunge Club and RCGC, initially liv ing in penurious conditions.However, Ghulam Mohammed Shah was enterprising. He scrounged and saved the stipend he received from the British and built up his finances through judicious investments, later acquiring the lands they were settled in and setting up the Prince Golam Mohammed Trust in 1872. He built the famous Tipu Sultan Shahi Masjid located at the junction of Dharmatala Street and Chowringhee in honour of his father in 1832. A decade later he built the twin of that mosque in Tollygunge at the crossing of Prince Anwar Shah and Deshpran Sasmal Roads. The Trust started by him is considered to be one of the richest Muslim trusts in the country , their revenues earned mostly from the ownership of multiple properties stretching from south to central Calcutta. It is said the land on which the Lower Circular Road Christian cemetery is located was acquired from Tipu Sultan’s son in 1840.That explains the small mosque in an enclosed area at the rear of the cemetery .
It is fun to extrapolate that despite the political and social conflicts raging in the nation at that time, the Tipu Sultan Shahi Masjid, one of the lesser known heritage attractions of Calcutta, along with the Sacred Heart Church, a short walk down Dharmatala Street, as its contemporary neighbour, are rather obvious examples of this city’s plurality and cosmopolitan nature.Tollygunge, not yet known as Tollygunge, would be called that after Colonel William Tolly dredged the Gobindapur Creek in 1773 and reconnected Calcutta Port with the Matla and Bidyadhari rivers. He was also permitted to levy a tax on ships plying to and from today’s Bangladesh and built a market there, a ganj. The area was thereafter known as Tollygunge. In due course, Prince Ghulam became the owner of almost all the land.
The first hole of Tolly Club’s golf links is named after Tipu Sultan and for someone who never even set foot in this city, his legacy here is quite something to wonder at. George Orwell said, “The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history .” Rewriting the history of a country to fit a particular political mould is an attempt to do exactly that and it shall fail because those doing so are in denial. Tipu Sultan was many things to many people. He was probably what many monarchs were at that time, benevolent and violent, fighting valiant battles to retain his lands and his people, harsh and despotic, heroic and innovative, patriotic and tyrannical, and a whole lot more. He, nevertheless, will be a significant character in our history, if for no other reason but that he was where he was, when he was.
One of the ways someone like Tipu Sultan will live on in history is because of music.He featured in folk songs of the period as he did in English ballads of the time. The English songs were of course all derogatory and cursed the Indians in various ways, while being full of self-praise and odes to British military valour.Perhaps there is still time for someone to do what Francis James Child did in the 1800s, collecting Scottish and English ballads and transcribing them to text and notation. The wealth of folk music in India would give us, what could only be an amazing take on the history of our country .
— PATRICK SL GHOSE
source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / News> City News> Kolkata News / by Patrick SL Ghose / TNN / November 06th, 2017