' Footprints of Tipu Sultan in Tulunadu

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Footprints of Tipu Sultan in Tulunadu
By John B Monteiro

February 7, 2013

Lives of great men all remind us

We must make our lives sublime

And, departing, leave behind us

Footprints on the sand of time.

- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, US poet and scholar (1807-1882) in A Psalm of Life.

Tipu Sultan is currently in media focus because of the move to start a University to be named after him at Srirangapatanam, the seat of his power, near Mysore. A heated controversy is raging on his contribution, mainly on the question if he was a freedom fighter, against the British colonialists, or a religious bigot. As far as Tulunadu is concerned, he has left a number of footprints. But, is it in the way Longfellow meant? Is he a role model for us to make our lives sublime?

Starting from 1763 and ending in 1800, the Muslim rulers of Mysore had sway over Tulunadu. In 1763 Hyder Ali captured Bidanur and sacked the city and thus commenced his rule over Tulunadu. On his death in1782, his son, Tipu Sultan, assumed the throne and ruled until 1800 when he was finally and totally defeated by the British in the battle of Srirangapatanam. While Hyder was a ruler with religious tolerance, Tipu has a record of persecuting Christians suspecting their loyalty to him and their support to the British. During his 18 years of rule over Tulunadu, Tipu has left behind the footprints or legacies of his regime.

Two of these are in the heart of Mangalore. He constructed the Idgah mosque on Lighthouse Hill. It is a quadrangular structure believed to have been constructed, according to oral tradition, with stones from the destroyed (by him) Milagres church at Hampankatta. The word Idgah comes from Id, the main Muslim festival, and Idgah is the place for offering congregational prayers on the festival day by the faithful of the region. Taditionally the Muslims of Mangalore and surrounding areas offered prayers at the Idgah  on Id after coming in a procession from Juma Masjid at Bunder. However, this practice is now extinct or scaled down to avoid the risk of provoking communal disharmony. Also, the heritage value of this structure is marred by modern extensions, including asbestos roofing on steel girders.

Then there is Sultan Battery on the east bank of Gurpur River which is accessed through a road going west from Urva Circle. Built in about 1784, it is a watchtower erected by Tipu to help prevent the entry of enemy warships into Gurpur River. It is a complex construction and though it was meant to be a watchtower, it gives the impression of a miniature fortress with its many apertures for mounting cannons all around. It had been in a state of neglect for a long time and when the Archeological Department stepped in to repair, it only worsened the situation by wrong type of restoration, including cement coating of its stone surfaces.

By far the most visible, though remotely located, legacy of Tipu is Jamalabad Fort. Also called Nada, after the name of the village at its base, and Narasimhagad, it is located 6 KM north of Belthangadi town. The present fort was built on the ruins of an old fort by Tipu in1794 and he named it after his mother, Jamalbee. The village hosting it is at the foot of a high rock of a long spur from Kudremukh range. The fort was captured by the British in 1799 but was soon after taken by Thimmanayaka. It was finally captured by the British in 1800. The immense rock on which the fort stands is inaccessible except by one narrow path of high steps. The nature of the access to the top is such that a descent from it in the face of an enemy was as difficult as the ascent and even a small body of men with sufficient artillary could blockade a strong garrison

Jamalabad granite hill is1788 ft above sea level .It has steps on the eastern side. Most of the steps and passages on the upper portions of the hill are cut out of the solid rock and are considered good work of engineering skill. The walls, bastions and gateways are built of carefully cut granite blocks and must have been of great strength. Inside the citadel are two tanks and a small spring of good water. On one of the ruined bastions lies a dismantled iron cannon of European manufacture. At he base of the fort  there is horse track surrounding the rock. It is said that those out of favour with Tipu were hurled down the rock to their death

Tipu led his army to Mangalore against the British down the ghats and on the way built minor forts at Modankap, Arkula, Adyar and Kannur. Incidentally, there is a major fort of Tipu as we approach Sakleshpur,on the highway to Hassan, slightly off the road and to the right as we go towards Sakleshpur—just at the end of the ghat ascent. It is in the shape of a star and provides a grand view of the forested ghat and the plains beyond.

Another legacy Tipu left behin is the name of a place—Nethrekere or Netherkedu in Tulu. It is on the cross road from Maripalla, near Arkula, to Kalpane, about two KM north of the state highway. As per local oral history, this is where Christians in captivity, marching to Mysore,  were put to the sword for being disobedient to the captors. The name is derived from the resulting large pool of blood. Also, it appears that Tipu was an admirer of Polali Chendu and had a platform built for him to watch the game . It is called Sultan Katte even to this day.

Tipu has also deleted some of the legacies of Tulunadu. These includes the original Mangalore Fort built by Basavappa Nayak of Bidanur (Ikkeri—1740—54) which was dismantled by Tipu in about 1784. Also, dozens of Christian churches, with the exception of Monte Mariano at Farangipet, were destroyed and 60,000 Christians taken into captivity and marched to Srirangapatanam. But, that is another story in itself for another time.


John B Monteiro, author and journalist, is editor of his website www.welcometoreason.com (Interactive Cerebral Challenger). Details about his latest book, Corruption:India’s Painful Crawl to Lokpal, can be accessed from his American publisher’s website set up for him:http://sbpra.com/JohnBMonteiro or from Google by keying in John B Monteiro.



Comments on this article
A G Maxwell, QuilonWednesday, April 15, 2015
While reading 'Christianity in India' by Leonard Fernando and G. Gispert Sauch, I noticed a glaring omission : the persecution of Christians by Tipu Sultan. As a student of comparative religions and interfaith dialogue, this painful chapter of the Mangaloreans need to be told, authored, owned for the trauma through the generations to be healed and cathected. We need to acknowledge the unconscious, the disavowed. I share the agony, the shame, helplessness, the trauma and the disfigurement of the soul of the Mangalorean Catholic.
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S.M. Nawaz Kukkikatte, udupiWednesday, February 13, 2013
That time Tippu was Hero for every indians, But this time he was communal specially for Communal minded people. Everything will change even "History" also. What a miracle!
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Abu - Affan / Adnan, DammamWednesday, February 13, 2013
Tippu real hero of India,he will remain as a hero for ever...no need of anybody"s certificate about his patriotism ....British and Indias deshdrohi killed him,he was a missile man of the world.....
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Jagdish , MangaloreTuesday, February 12, 2013
I fully agree with Buslam's comment. I have never read about Tipu or Hyder ali being communal. With limited info why are some of my Christian brothers writing like this. There are only few Mughal rulers worth respecting like Akbar and in them Tipu sultan wud definately figure. Its a diff discussion whether to have his name figure in University. Yes better to have his name rather than name of a British Ruler
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Peter Lewis, Brahmavar/SharjahTuesday, February 12, 2013
Tippu Sultan cannot be a role model and freedom fighter. Tippu prosecuted the innocent Christians, his only countrymen and he paid the price for his deeds. One who took the swoard died by sword.
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Rafi, AbudhabiTuesday, February 12, 2013
I strongly feel that , we should not judge a person' character with out knowing that time period's situations and conditions.any action by a any ruler or any person depends on many fatcors.
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RK, mangalore Sunday, February 10, 2013
RAHUl Mangalore
I totally agree with ur comments...
Tippu ws not against christian he ws against of supporter of BRITISH...
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Royal, Mangalore / DubaiSunday, February 10, 2013
Very nicely explained Mr. Valerian.
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Dexter Britto, Mangalore/AucklandSunday, February 10, 2013
Very interesting and informative article. Enjoyed reading it.
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KRPrabhu, Kudla/BangaloreSaturday, February 09, 2013
@Jimmy Noronha,Bellore/Lucknow
It is all about politics nothing else.Our next generation may even see the attempt to set up an University in the name of Janab Afjal Guru,Janab Syed Madani,Janab Kasab etc.,...Ghor Kaliyug effect......
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jimmy noronha, Bellore, LucknowSaturday, February 09, 2013
Having spent my childhood not so far from Netherekedu and learnt about the exploits of Tipu Sultan then, I do not think there is anything sublime about the life of Tipu nor could I see any untarnished steps on sands of time left by him. So, what for we are naming a university after him, unless it is for gaining some political mileage?
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Ahmedshabeer, MangaloreSaturday, February 09, 2013
I really wonder being a history student i never learnt that tipu was against christians.as far as i leant he lookafter his people equally there are so many hindus in his ministry even the deewan who backstabed him also a non muslim. in that we can realise that how religious he is.
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Bulsam, MangaloreFriday, February 08, 2013
In 1768, the British captured Mangalore and Canara from Hyder. At the end of the same year, Hyder, along with his son Tipu Sultan, defeated the British and recaptured Mangalore. After the conquest, Hyder was informed that the Catholics had helped the British in their conquest of Mangalore. Hyder believed that this behaviour amounted to treachery against the sovereign. Summoning a Portuguese officer and several Christian priests from Mangalore, he asked for suggestions as to how the Mangalorean Catholics should be punished. The Portuguese officer suggested the death penalty for those Catholics who had helped the British, as it was the standard punishment for betraying a sovereign. Rather than follow this advice, Hyder chose a diplomatic stance and only imprisoned Christians found guilty of treachery.
Later, he opened negotiations with the Portuguese, agreement was reached and suspicions against the Christians were removed and they were no longer chastised. During Hyder's regime, Roman Catholicism in Mangalore and the Mangalorean Catholic community continued to flourish.
The entire strategy that Tipu had adopted was to defeat the British military and not communal. Finally, he sought to make peace with Portugal, the Marathas, and other powers. He opened negotiations with the Portuguese Government and with the Archbishop of Goa, with a promise that he would stop molesting the Christians, further asserting that he would rebuild all destroyed churches at his own cost.
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SKM, UdupiFriday, February 08, 2013
There are many forts which are not listed in the above article such as Port adjacent to kaup light house which connect through undergroud tunnel to Mallr port on the west crossing NH17. Request someone to thorw lights on this .
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Valerian Dsouza, Udupi/MumbaiThursday, February 07, 2013
Tipu Sultan may have been a great warrior. Most of the Kings were so to protect their kingdom.
However for Christians he was a biggest ever terror.
If we see history, even of recent times, in most cases, atrocities committed on victims merely on doubts.
When America's twin towers were destroyed by Osama bin laden, Americans started doubting all Muslims.
When Iraq was attacked by America, Iraqi ruler became hostile to Christians. Iran also became hostile.
When there are hostilities between India & Pakistan, majority doubted Muslims patriotism.
Same way, Tipu also doubted Christians and very severely persecuted and killed most of them.
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R Mallar, Kasaragod/ DubaiThursday, February 07, 2013
Let us face it - Tipu lived over 250 years back
1. The concept of secularism was not there then. So don't go over board about his secular credentials.
2. He should have been prudent enough to understand that he can't survive if he persecuted all non- muslims. He had to act responsibly once he became a ruler
3. History tells that during his time there were large scale conversions happened in malabar region.
4. Just because he is a muslim ruler, muslims should not paint him to be secular nor non-muslims should paint him to be the destroyer.
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vnayak, mangalore/switzerlandThursday, February 07, 2013
To my knowledge,the reason why he did not destroy the church of Farangipet was because it was built by the Italians. Tippu saw Italians as friends and not as colonialists. He destroyed the rest of the churches because they were built by the Portuguese whom Tippu saw as colonialists.
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Manohar Veigas, UDUPIThursday, February 07, 2013
Tipu Sultan has left bitter memories specially for the Christian Community of Tulunadu. Certainly he cannot be titled as a secular kind for reasons he targeted the entire community just for sharing the same religion with the British. History has always shown that betrayal does not come only from the other community it has been also the betrayal from the same community also. Even the young woman folks were not spared by his soldiers during the persecution in Tulu Nadu. Moreover, we all know he is not the Son of the Soil. He was also responsible for discouraging the use of Kannada language and imposing Urdu among the muslim community.
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IVAN D'SOUZA, MANGALOREThursday, February 07, 2013
Yes he was a king who wanted to retain his kingdom. he was not a freedom fighter cause he fought with British & made friends with French just to save himself.He preferred French rule over British. French too were Christians.
But he paid the price for his atrocities. His darbar joined hands in his defeat & murder.
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Naufal, UddabettuThursday, February 07, 2013
As per my knowledge,other than Islam he loved Hindu than christian.Because few of them from christians supporting British rulers.He waged war against british and those who supporting british in india including nizam etc
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vijay R.D, karkalaThursday, February 07, 2013
Tippu is not secular King, he was suspicious on Christian community and Tried to destroy religion from his kingdom, but failed and died, if he was secular obviously he could have punish those who involved and supporting British regardless of their religion, cast & creed.
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AMAAZ, udupiThursday, February 07, 2013
Tipu was a secular king.

In fact, he had many hindus in his darbar.

He even staged war with Nizams (Muslims) of Hyderabad since they joined hands with British forces.

Did Christian's join hands with British. The answer is YES.
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RAHUL, MANGALOREThursday, February 07, 2013
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