What do you know about Tipu Sultan? That he was a Sultan, famous as the Tiger Of Mysore? Or that his father was Hyder Ali or that there is a fort at Devanhalli that is his birth place, Nandi hills was his summer retreat etc etc…… Though there are a lot of controversies surrounding him, one thing however stands true – he was a great warrior.
A couple of years ago I got my hands on the book – The Sword of Tipu Sultan by Bhagwan S. Gidwani. This book evoked strong emotions in me as the writer describes him as an enlightened ruler. So to learn a bit more about him, I visited his Summer Palace in Bangalore . And here is what I learnt.
Tipu’s Sufi Connection:
Tipu had a Sufi connection. He was named after a 18th century Sufi saint- Tipu Mastan Awliya. Hyder Ali and his second wife had visited the tomb of this saint for the safe delivery of their child.
Tipu coins with letter H:
Tipu Sultan’s coins most often had the letter ‘H’ in them. It could be the initial letter of his father Hyder Ali’s name or could even refer to the Prophet’s cousin Ali who was known as Haydar. The letter was most often there, either in the center or a small inscription of it somewhere on the face of the coin.
The Summer palace has tiger motifs on the walls. Tipu’s love for tigers is universally known. Apparently he had tigers in Srirangapatna too guarding his treasury and the palace. The tiger motifs are seen in his weapons, helmets, embroidered in textiles, on palace walls, coins,Tipu’s throne and in Hyder Ali’s tomb as well.
The musical tiger toy:
The notorious musical instrument ‘Musical Tiger’ struck a lot of chords when it entered Britain after Tipu’s death in 1799. The instrument had the figure of a tiger attacking an European officer. When the handle of the instrument was turned it mimicked the cries of the soldier coupled with the roar of the tiger. This instrument was the key attraction at the Museum in the Leadenhall street for years.
Tipu’s rockets in the palace are not very big, an iron case containing the projectile, tied to a bamboo or wooden pole. But the havoc it caused in Poliur war was tremendous. It could be fired horizontally, projected upwards and it could frighten the horses or set fire to ammunition. Such was its success that after the Anglo Mysore wars the English set about studying these.It was also an inspiration for the first solid fuel rockets.
After his death in the fourth Anglo Mysore War the palace, his treasury, the houses in the city were looted and plundered. Most of his treasures were sent to London.Gold, swords, bales,jewels, silver artifacts, rich carpets- items like the throne made of pure gold was knocked to pieces and then sent. Details of these items can be found in the book Tipu’s Tigers by Susan Stronge.
Tipu and his dreams:
Tipu documented his dreams and he interpreted some of them as well. The 37 dreams recorded were mostly about his enemies and wars – the victories he desired etc.The diary was hidden as Tipu had no inclination to show it to anyone and was later discovered in his bed chamber by Colonel Kirkpatrick after Tipu’s death. The dreams depict what was foremost in his mind- to free his city from the clutches of foreign rule as is indicated in the book The Dreams of Tipu Sultan.
Love him or hate him, but do visit the lovely Summer Palace of Tipu Sultan. Alternatively to hear more about his exploits join us on our Unhurried Walks or register for a private walk with us for a Tipu Trail.