Tipu Sultan is arguably one of the most famous martyrs of the Indian subcontinent. He is revered in Indian folklore for his staunch resistance to British rule in India, and for delivering several crushing blows to the enemy at a time when most of the country was unable to stand up to the strength of the British armed forces. Tipu Sultan was the de-facto ruler of the Indian state of Mysore. He is better known as the `Tiger of Mysore`. His full name was Sultan Fateh Ali Tippu and he was born on 20th November, 1750 at Devanahalli, in present-day Kolar district, near Bangalore, India. He is the eldest son of Haider Ali and Fakhr-un-Nissa (Fatima Begum). Tipu ascended the throne of his father after his death in 1782, following the Second Mysore War, to then rule the Kingdom of Mysore. His reputation as a great general and fearless warrior was sealed in the Second Mysore War when he defeated British forces under Hector Munro at the Battle of Pollilur in 1780. With the aid of French officers, he broke through British lines and unleashed 13 offensives until the British officers finally surrendered. One of them, Captain David Baird, was held prisoner for four years before returning to his regiment and eventually leading the force which defeated Tipu Sultan in his capital, Srinagapattana in 1799.
Since his childhood, Tipu Sultan pursued his strong interests in academics and various languages. Besides being well-educated Tippu was also adept as a soldier, learning the art of warfare, at the young age of 15, by attending numerous military campaigns, accompanying his father. He was also a devout Muslim who accepted other religions as well, contrary to certain theories describing him as a religious persecutor of Hindus and Christians. His personal library consisted of more than 2,000 books in different languages. Tipu worked hard for the welfare of his subjects and his numerous contributions include his construction of roads, building tanks and dams, several ports along the shoreline, fortifying numerous palaces and forts, promoting overseas trade, commerce and increase in agricultural output.
As British influence in India grew beyond control, Tipu recognized the imminent threat the East India company posed and 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 British availed the chance with the help of the Nizam and the Marathas, and started the third Anglo-Mysore war in 1790. Earlier, Tipu and his father Haidar Ali proved successful in defeating the British in the First Mysore War in 1766 and in the Second Mysore War of 1782, thus negotiating the Treaty of Mangalore with them. While the British became aware of Tipu`s growing strength, they made alliances with the neighboring Nizam of Hyderabad and the Marathas, leading to 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.
The British did not waste any time in taking advantage of the situation and descended upon the capital of Mysore with more than 50,000 soldiers and besieged in. Tipu, being an able military strategist was prepared this time with his longstanding and successful military tactic of rocket artillery in war and a better army to thwart his adversaries. Fighting with all his valor, Tipu Sultan eventually died defending his capital Srirangapattana on 4th May, 1799. Tipu Sultan is buried alongside his father and mother, in a mausoleum built by him in 1784, in his capital city of Srinagapattana.
Tipu Sultan, and his regal personality and down-to-earth lifestyle were above just an uneventful leader. He made his state safe and peaceful with compassionate rule. He was a open-minded ruler who treated his non-Muslim subjects liberally. He turned into a generous and instrumental leader, whose constant fearless efforts contrary to the British oppression in India led to his name engraved in the annals of history.