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Humshehri: Thinking Pakistan's History

Thinking Pakistan's History

Tipu Sultan

Urdu Version

Tipu Sultan (1750 – 1799), also known as the Tiger of Mysore, was the ruler of the Kingdom of Mysore, as well as a scholar, soldier and poet.

Early life

Tipu sultan
Tipu Sultan
Wikimedia Commons

Tipu Sultan was born at Devanahalli on the 20 November 1750. He was named Tipu Sultan after the Saint Tipu Mastan Aulia of Arcot. His father, Hyder Ali, initially a military officer of the Kingdom of Mysore, rose to power in 1761 and became the ruler. Tipu Sultan was instructed in military tactics and was given an early education in subjects such as Urdu, Persian, Arabic, Quran, Islamic jurisprudence, as well as practiced sports such as riding, shooting and fencing.

In 1766, at the age of 15, he accompanied his father against the British in the First Mysore War and went on to command the corps of cavalry during the invasion of Carnatic in 1767. Hyder Ali, impressed by Tipu’s military skills, appointed him the commander of 500 cavalry and the ruler of 5 districts of Mysore.The Anglo-Mysore Wars were fought from 1767 to 1799 between the East India Company and the rulers of Mysore: Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan.

First Anglo-Mysore War

The First Anglo-Mysore War broke out in 1766. Before the war, the British had recognized Hyder Ali as a dangerous foe and the de facto leader of the Mysore Kingdom. He managed to convince British allies to change sides and fight against the British in the battlefield. However, the British managed to fight their way out of this betrayal with success and after several battles a peace treaty was signed between them in 1769.

Second Anglo-Mysore War

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Anglo-Mysore War
(Heritage History)

Hyder Ali formed an alliance with the French over their mutual enemy: the British.As soon as France participated in the American Revolutionary War against the British, one of the ports of Mysore was overtaken by the British forces. Tipu Sultan immediately retaliated, by first fighting against the Marathas, an ally of the British, and soon after by surrounding and defeating a British battalion awaiting reinforcements. After Warren Hastings took charge in Madras, Tipu Sultan was defeated in several battles and signed a treaty in 1784 that demanded both sides to surrender and return the conquests of war. During the course of the war, Hyder Ali also passed away outside the battlefield.

Third & Fourth Anglo-Mysore Wars

The third war started in 1789 when Tipu Sultan deliberately attacked the British lines at night. Cornwallis, a military leader and the Governor-General of that time, took personal charge of the war and led several successful campaigns against Tipu in his mission to drive the French out of India. Deprived of the French support and opposed by a competent general, Tipu Sultan finally agreed to make peaceby giving up most of his property and two sons.

The fourth war in the series was a continuation of the third one. Tipu Sultan, considered to be a resolute enemy of the British, was once again thought to be plotting against them with the help of the French. The new British governor, Lord Wellesley, wanted to get rid of this alliance and the accompanying Mysore menace once and for all. Keeping this goal in mind, Lord Wellesley besieged Tipu Sultan’s capital of Seringapatam in 1799 and offered him a pension to retire, but Tipu refused and preferred a soldier’s death. He was killed in a subsequent British raid of the city and his remaining dominions were split between the Hindu kingdoms and British Raj.


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Tipu’s Tiger with keyboard on display
(© Victoria and Albert Museum, London)

Tipu Sultan was an extraordinary leader with a dignified personality.He was greatly respected by his people and various international allies, such as the French, Amir of Afghanistan and Sultan of Turkey. Besides this, Tipu left behind some royal memoirs that included his exquisitely ornamented weaponry, the mechanical Tipu’s tiger, his tiger-head throne, his coinage, as well as the famous engraved royal Sword of Tipu Sultan.

Find out more

Books & Articles

“Mysore Wars 1767 To 1799: Kingdom of Mysore versus British East India Company.” Heritage History.

“Tipu Sultan.” Enemy Commanders: Britain’s Greatest Foes. National Army Museum.

“Tipu’s Tiger.” Victoria and Albert Museum.

“Was India’s Tipu Sultan a hero or a despot?” BBC Trending. BBC News, 28 Jan. 2014.


Columbia University: South Asia Study Resources – Tipu Sultan of Mysore (r. 1782 – 99)