Tag Archives: Tipu Sultan

Why legends of Tipu Sultan live on in Calcutta

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 .


source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / News> City News> Kolkata News / by Patrick SL Ghose / TNN / November 06th, 2017

Tipu Sultan, a Product of His Times


An extract from Kate Brittlebank’s Tiger: The Life of Tipu Sultan.


Tipu Sultan. Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Tipu Sultan. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The Karnataka government’s decision to celebrate the birth anniversary of Tipu Sultan has once against created a controversy, with the BJP and the RSS as well as local groups in Kodagu district opposing the move.  A rally against the proposed celebration is planned in Bangalore on Tuesday. Last year, the government’s decision led to large-scale violence; this year, a case was filed against the move, but the court’s declined to interfere, calling it a policy decision. At the same time, the judges asked what the rationale was to hold such a celebration.

Was Tipu Sultan (1750-1799) a hero or a villain and was he, as is claimed, against Hindus? Some scholars have contested these views. In this excerpt from her book Tiger: The Life of Tipu Sultan, historian Kate Brittlebank gives a more nuanced and holistic view of the man and the monarch, who, she says, was a product of his times.


Kate Brittlebank Tiger: The Life of Tipu Sultan Juggernaut, 2016
Kate Brittlebank
Tiger: The Life of Tipu Sultan
Juggernaut, 2016

It was also important, if Tipu were to retain power, that he tap into the south’s shared sacred landscape, and it is in this light that we should read his patronage of religious institutions, which was widespread. For centuries, kings had associated themselves with the sacred sites of the region, the most significant being the river Kaveri, the Ganges of the south. Rising in the hills of Kodagu, the river wends its way across the Mysore plateau and down onto the plains of Tamil Nadu. Its entire length is dotted with religious landmarks, small and large. For south Indian kings the Kaveri was not only the source of life-giving water but also of divine power. Along the river are three islands, formed where the water divides: from east to west, they are Srirangam, Sivasamudram and Srirangapattana. These are the places where Vishnu sleeps upon the great serpent Sesha, when he is known as Sri Ranganatha, and on the islands are temples dedicated to the deity. The most magnificent is at Srirangam but all were recipients of past royal patronage; in 1610, Raja Wodeyar transferred his capital to Srirangapattana from Mysore after seizing the island from the Vijayanagara viceroy, Tirumala.

Given that the island of Srirangapattana was such a significant repository of divine power, Tipu would have been foolhardy to transfer his capital elsewhere. He continued the Wodeyars’ patronage of the Sri Ranganatha temple, alongside which stood his main palace, and erected a Friday mosque. Haidar’s tomb stood at the other end of the island, near the sangam, next to which Tipu built another, smaller mosque. Put simply, lordly benefaction, one of the defining characteristics of Indian kingship, was pragmatic in purpose. Along with their magnificent displays of power and wealth, kings were expected to be conspicuously pious. They made land grants, donated precious artefacts and mediated in religious disputes. In return, they could expect support for the legitimacy of their rule and prayers for the security and prosperity of the realm. Tipu behaved no differently: his generosity to temples, Sufi dargahs and mosques, as well as the great Math at Sringeri, are well documented, primarily through inscriptions and institutional records.

An idea of the number of Tipu’s religious endowments across his realm can be gained by looking at in‘am registers held in the Kozhikode Archives in Kerala. The records show that Tipu authorised sixty-seven grants of rent-free land, primarily to temples and mosques, solely for the taluks of Calicut, Ernad, Bettathnad and Chowghat. If we extrapolate that figure across the entire realm, it is clear that his patronage of such institutions was extensive. We know of several temples that hold objects donated by Tipu – the Sri Ranganatha temple at the capital received silver vessels, the Nanjundeshwara temple at Nanjangud has a jadeite linga said to have been installed on Tipu’s orders, and inscriptions record that he gave elephants and silver vessels to the Narayanaswami temple in Melukote.

The Sringeri Math, with which Tipu maintained a close relationship, received gifts of valuable cloths and shawls, a silver palanquin and a pair of silver fly whisks. The importance of the Math to south Indian and Deccani rulers – both Hindu and Muslim – since its foundation in the eighth century, is demonstrated by the fact that it holds more than 200 copperplate grants and sanads, the earliest dating from the Ganga dynasty (c. 250–1000 ce). Tipu referred to the Math’s Swami as the Jagadguru and, after the Marathas had raided the Math in 1792, he wrote in a letter that the culprits would ‘suffer the consequences of their misdeeds at no distant date in the Kali age’, concluding that ‘treachery to gurus will undoubtedly result in the destruction of the line of descent’.

The political nature of religious patronage was also the rationale behind acts of destruction. All across India, whenever a king conquered another, he signalled his victory by either seizing or destroying the religious sites with close ties to his victim – and it made no difference if conqueror and conquered were co-religionists. Just as Shaivite and Vaishnava dynasties in south India patronised mosques, dargahs and churches, they did not hesitate to capture the temples of their enemies and seize or destroy the images. The Cholas seized temple images from the Calukyas; and Vijayanagara’s Krishnadevaraya, to celebrate his defeat of the Gajapati king, removed an image of Balakrishna from Udayagiri to the capital. We can see this process in operation with Tipu’s demolition of the Varahaswami temple at Srirangapattana; after his death, the Wodeyars, in a statement of their own ‘victory’, relocated the ruined temple’s image to Mysore town, which once again was serving as their capital. If Tipu’s actions had been driven by religious rather than political motivation, he would not have allowed the Sri Ranganatha temple to continue to flourish within sight of his palace. It was the Wodeyars’ direct association with Vishnu’s boar incarnation that led to Tipu’s demolition of the Varaha temple. Nor were Christians exempt from such treatment – the Venkataramana temple in Nagar (formerly Haidarnagar/Bednur) possesses a bell cast in Amsterdam in 1713. The presence of this oddity in a Hindu place of worship is due to Tipu’s removal of it from a church in Malabar.

Similarly, Tipu did not discriminate against particular religious groups on the basis of their faith – indeed, his diwan or chief minister, Purnaiya, was a Hindu. As we have already seen, Tipu suspected the Kanara Christians of treachery and being in league with the British; the Nairs and the Kodavas, too, were punished for intriguing against him. And if there should be any doubt about what lay behind the treatment of such groups, the expulsion of the Mahdevis from Mysore in 1794 confirms the political character of such acts. This tight-knit Muslim community of several thousand mainly served in Tipu’s army as horse soldiers, under the command of their own officers. That Tipu was in no way prejudiced against this sect is demonstrated by the fact that one of his four vakils to Istanbul, Ja‘far Khan, was a Mahdevi; even so, he too was expelled in 1794. The stated reason for the community’s expulsion was their refusal to obey Tipu’s command to keep certain celebrations low-key – they were prone to noisy bouts of praying – as the festivities that year coincided with the return of the hostage princes from Madras. The more likely reason, however, was that Tipu suspected the Mahdevis of treason, with their festival disobedience merely the trigger for the order that they leave the kingdom. Interestingly, during the Fourth Anglo-Mysore War, many of them served under Arthur Wellesley as irregular horse, although it is not clear if this was a consequence of Tipu’s treatment of them, or if Tipu had been correct in his original assumption of their disloyalty.

Excerpted with the permission of Juggernaut Books from Tiger: The Life of Tipu Sultan by Kate Brittlebank, available in bookstores and on the Juggernaut app


source: http://www.thewire.in / The Wire / Home> Books / by Kate Brittlebank / November 07th, 2016

Older than Bengaluru, Stands a Grizzled Guard

Bengaluru, KARNATAKA :

Pics: Pushkar V
Pics: Pushkar V

Bengaluru :

The Devannahalli fort, which stands 35 kms away from Bengaluru, is older than the city itself by 37 years.

The fort has been occupied by different dynasties over time. It was built in 1501 by Kempegowda’s ancestor, Malla Baire Gowda. But in 1747, in a battle led by Nanjarajaiah, the dalwai of Mysore, the clan lost it to the Wadiyar dynasty. Marathas later claimed it and lost it back to the Mysore state, in a siege led by Hyder Ali in 1746.

Arun Prasad, from Discover Bangalore Project, says that though Hyder captured the fort, it was his son Tipu Sultan who was responsible for modelling and building the Pulkad fort.

The town surrounding the fort was meant to be a a centre of learning and arts. “The Devannahalli town was supposed to be a place for learned artisans and intellectuals to inhabit,” says Prasad.

Devannahalli was a town typical of the time, with protected farmlands and fields. A lake, behind the fort and seen from the bastions, was meant to serve the needs of the inhabitants.

Today, the lake is dried up and is a sad sight to notice. Prasad blames it on poor urban planning. Earlier, a highway used to pass through the western part of the town. Now, a road has been built, which passes over the lake. A  good portion of the lake was used up for it.

“The lake has always been rain-fed. But the new road cut the lake away from the adjoining canals and channels,” says Prasad. “The rain water could not flow in and the lake dried up. The vast area of 400-500 kms metres has only weeds and little water due to rains. You can also spot some tattered measurement devices, which was a failed attempt to study the level of water in the lake.”

Pics: Pushkar V
Pics: Pushkar V


Built on a higher ground, the bastions were used to keep a watch out for the enemy. The fort is 30 to 35 feet high and bastions, along the fort, are placed at equal distance from each other. “The bastions have well protected chambers, used by soldiers. The gun points are holes in the wall which can still be seen today. They are built from lime and brick. The holes were used to keep guns during the war,” adds Prasad.

Tipu’s Birthplace

South-west of the fort, there is memorial with a board, which proclaims that Tipu was born here. A six-foot-tall enclosure marks the spot.

When Tipu was born in 1750, his father Hyder Ali was engrossed in a battle. His mother, Fatima Fakhr-Un-Nisa, was secretly ushered into a carriage to give birth at the fort, as it was considered a safe place. However, she ended up giving birth inside the vehicle, right outside the fort. The monument is built over this birth spot.

A pond was built under the administration of Purnaiah, the then Dewan of Mysore. It is a beautiful pond with the stones and excavations intact. “The water is used for rituals and festivals,” says Prasad. “People take baths here as well.”

Pics: Pushkar V
Pics: Pushkar V


Inside the Devannahalli fort, there is the Venugopalswamy temple. The temple, which was built in the Vijaynagara style, has several depictions from the Ramayana on the walls. “At the entrance, the two horsemen are believed to belong to the Western Ganga dynasty (which ruled 350 and 1000 AD),” said Prasad.

There are sculptures of seamstresses, as you enter, from the same era. The north and south walls have sculptures showing Rishyasringa being brought from a forest to Ayodhya accompanied by dancing girls. There is also a scene of Vishwamitra caught in a  an archery battle with Rama. The south wall has ten incarnations of Lord Krishna and Rama’s father performing a sacrifice.

Pics: Pushkar V
Pics: Pushkar V

The fort gate and the fort walls are crumbling and there are scribblings on the walls. There is no security at the entrance and anyone can walk in. The commercial establishments all around have failed to preserve the authenticity of the past. “An ASI (Archeological Survey of India) office is located at the entrance, which is always closed and does not provide much information,” says Prasad. “The fort area needs to be protected by ASI and does not come under the corporation. The northern gate is crumbling as well.”

How it Began

Refugees on the run from Kancheepuram settled down near the Nandi Hills. Legend has it that Rana Baire Gowda, their leader, was told in a dream that he had to build a settlement in this region. This family goes by the name of Morasu Wokkalu. His son Malla Baire Gowda founded Devanahalli. Kempegowda also belongs to this family.

source: http://www.newindianexpress.com / The New Indian Express / Home> Cities> Bengaluru / by Seema Prasad / January 28th, 2016

Tipu’s feared rockets fly into oblivion

The Sangeen Jame Masjid at Taramandalpet in Bengaluru.— Photo: Bhagya Prakash k
The Sangeen Jame Masjid at Taramandalpet in Bengaluru.— Photo: Bhagya Prakash k
Bengaluru, KARNATAKA :
In the congested old market area of the city, where vehicles and pedestrians jostle for space on narrow lanes, lies a tale of Tipu Sultan’s ingenuity that time seems to have forgotten.

It is in this small clearing, now flanked by a sprawling masjid, that thousands of workers had gathered nearly 300 years ago to cut metal, roll gunpowder into barrels and attach sharp metallic pieces to make the once-feared ‘Bangalore Rockets’.

All that remains now of this ingenious machinery that sustained Tipu Sultan through four wars against the British is the name assumed by the few buildings in the area — Taramandalpet , or roughly, the market of the constellation of stars, a name that refers to the pattern of mid-air explosions of these rockets that then rained shrapnel on an unsuspecting enemy.

Residents — primarily shopkeepers and staff of the masjid and madrassa — seem unaware of the place’s rich history that once fuelled Indian rocketry.

“Workers would prepare these rockets that proved very effective against the British. This would then be transported to the armoury at K.R. Market, which still exists,” says Suresh Moona, a historian.

The entire street was a sort of military laboratory, a fact seen in the unearthing of two cannons during the metro construction work between 2012 and 2015.

Much of these signs, however, have disappeared. Activists point out this irony: while the government announced celebrations of the Mysuru King’s birth anniversary — which ended in violent protests — recently, symbols of the Sultan in Bengaluru and even his birthplace near the swanky International Airport on the outskirts continue to fade away.

Syed Shafiullah, vice-president of the Tipu Sultan Publicity Committee, says: “One armoury that we saw is now just piles of thrash and shops. It is a shame that all of it is going. We have been persuading the government to preserve these areas, or at least, to highlight it. It should be a pride that the technology of the British army came from Karnataka,” he says.

source:  http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> National / by Staff Reporter / Bengaluru – December 27th, 2015

Rare Tipu coins to be auctioned this weekend

The silver coin issued by Tipu Sultan, minted at Srirangpatanam. / The Hindu
The silver coin issued by Tipu Sultan, minted at Srirangpatanam. / The Hindu

Extremely rare and unique silver coins issued by Tipu Sultan will come under the hammer in Bangalore this weekend as a Silver Double Coin, also called as “Haidari”, and a half Anna, have been put on the block by a Delhi-based collector.

These two coins are among many other rare coins from the collectors’ kitty that will be auctioned during the three-day National Numismatic Exhibition, organised by the Bangalore-based auction house Marudhar Arts, starting from Friday.

The “Haidari”, which weighs 23 grams, according to Rajendra Maru of the auction house, has come for auction in India for the first time in several decades. “The last time we heard about the coin was some years back when a fake Haidari was in circulation. There are less than 100 such coins known to be with collectors,” he added. It is being auctioned with a base price of Rs. 1.5 lakh.

The Haidari was issued on March 16, 1790 by Tipu Sultan in honour of his father Hyder Ali. The coin minted in Srirangapatna was equivalent to 32 copper coins. The other coin issued by Tipu Sultan is an extremely rare half Anna silver coin issued in 1785 that weighs just half a gram and is 7.33 mm in size.

First time

A nearly 3,000-years-old silver coin belonging to Pauravas (Kura dynasty) of Kausambi region has also come for auction for the first time and has been categorised as extremely rare. The other first timer on the block is a punch marked Gold Pagoda coin issued by King Barma Bhopala (1187 AD -1188 AD) of Toragale dynasty in Dharwad region. According to a release, Bhopala ruled for just four to five months.

A lead coin issued by the Marathas of Tanjore that is categorised as exceedingly rare is also being auctioned along with very rare Re. 1 and Rs. 5 currency note of King George VI that was in use even after independence.

The exhibition will be held at Bell Hotel, next to the Bangalore City railway station between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. and entry is free.

source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Bangalore / by Special Correspondent / Bangalore – February 19th, 2014

Bangalore: H.D. Deve Gowda pays floral tribute to Tippu Sultan on his 264th birth anniversary

Janata Dal (S) supremo H.D. Deve Gowda pays floral tribute to a portrait of Tippu Sultan during a programme organised by KPJD(S) and JD(S) minority wing on his 264th birth anniversary at JD (S) in Bangalore on Nov.11, 2013.
Janata Dal (S) supremo H.D. Deve Gowda pays floral tribute to a portrait of Tippu Sultan during a programme organised by KPJD(S) and JD(S) minority wing on his 264th birth anniversary at JD (S) in Bangalore on Nov.11, 2013. 

source: http://www.prokerala.com / Pro Kerala News / Home> News> Photos

Govt should celebrate Tipu Sultan’s birth anniversary, Mysore MP says

Mysore : 

Mysore MP Adagooru H Vishwanath on Sunday asserted that the state government should celebrate Mysore ruler Tipu Sultan’s birth anniversary. This way the state can pay its tributes to the brave solider, who fought against British, he said.

According to him, Tipu was a secular ruler and has helped people without considering their religion. He helped Sharada Peetam in Sringeri in Chikamagalur and also had secrete tunnel in Srirangapatna, his capital, which connected his palace to the Sriranganatha Temple. He is believed to have spend time inside the temple praying to Lord Sriranganatha. This explains that he was a secular administrator, he said seeking the government to celebrate Tipu’s birth anniversary (November 10). He said he will recommend it to the Siddaramaiah government.

Coming as it did ahead of the parliamentary polls, his move could attract criticism given that there were opposition to the Congress-led Union government’s plan to start a university for minorities and name it after the Mysore ruler at Srirangapatna recently.

Speaking at Tipu’s birth anniversary hosted by the City Congress at its office in Devaraja Market, the MP said: Tipu lost his life fighting British in 1799 and laid a strong foundation for anti-British struggle in India along with Kittur Rani Chennamma. This is history and cannot be tampered with.

He appreciated the City Congress for celebrating the Tipu’s birth anniversary saying they should revisit and recollect the national leaders celebrating their birth anniversaries. Referring to the directive issued by Veerappa Moily government to display Tipu and Kittur Rani Chennamma’s photographs in the government offices, he said it was a welcome move.

source: http://www.articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / Home> City> Mysore> Tipu Sultan / by HM Aravind, TNN / November 10th, 2013