Mysorean invasion of Kerala

Mysorean invasion of Kerala
Mysore invasion of Kerala
Part of Expansions of Kingdom of Mysore
Anglo-Mysore Wars
Palakkad Fort.JPG
View of Tipu's Fort, Palakkad from outside the northern wall
Date 1763–1792
Location Indian subcontinent
Result British rule in Malabar Coast
Transfer of territories from local Nair kings to Mysore and then to English East India Company
Ali Raja of Cannanore
Local Mappila population
British East India Company

Local Nair Kings

The Mysorean invasion of Kerala (1763–1792) was the the military invasion of parts of present day Kerala, India, by Hyder Ali, the Muslim de facto ruler of the Kingdom of Mysore and his successor and son Tipu Sultan. Tipu Sultan's army is recorded to have forcefully converted over 400,000 Hindus to Islam during this conquest.[1][2][3]

Hyder Ali first marched to present day Kerala in 1757 as per request of King of Palghat who was a long-time military foe of the Zamorin of nearby Calicut. Hyder Ali, who at that time was the Faujdar of Dindigul under Kingdom of Mysore, with a force of 2,500 horses and 7,500 men supported by Palghat troops, marched into Southern Malabar. The army defeated the Calicut army and reached as far as Arabian Sea. The Calicut army failed because Hyder's troops were organised, armed and trained in the most modern fashion whereas Calicut army, like rest of armies of kings of Malabar, relied on feudal levies. Zamorin eventually agreed to pay INR1,200,000 as indemnity to Hyder Ali and so Hyder Ali withdrew. King of Calicut, despite the invasion, did not modernise his army – a neglect for which he paid nine years later.

Soon Hyder became the de facto head of Mysore Kingdom with the king a mere figure-head. He turned his attention towards expansion which included the capture of the Kingdom of Bednur in 1763. In 1766, he descended into Kerala and, for the next 25 years, waged a futile and counter-productive struggle to subdue Malabar. Hyder occupied the Kingdoms of Chirakkal, Kottayam, Kadathanad, Calicut, Valluvanad and Palghat and Rajah of Cochin accept his suzerainty and paid him tribute annually for from 1766 till 1790. Hyder's attempt to defeat Travancore failed in 1767 and second effort by Tipu Sultan in 1789–1790 also ended in failure. Thus Travancore was only part of Kerala that stood outside Mysore authority.[4]


Invasion by Hyder Ali

Hyder Ali in 1762, "Commander in Chief of the Marathas. At the head of his army in the war against the British in India". (French painting)

When news of Hyder's conquest of Bednur reached Ali Rajah of Cannanore in 1763, he promptly requested Hyder to invade Kerala and help him deal with Kolathiri Chirakkal Rajah,[clarification needed] with whom he had fought in 1761–62. Hyder agreed and in 1766 he marched into Malabar with a force of 12,000 infantry, 4,000 cavalry and a park of field guns.

The army of Kolathiri Rajah failed to check or defeat Hyder's host. Ali Raja of Cannanore seized and set fire to the palace of Kolathiri Raja. The latter escaped with his followers to the then-British settlement of Thalasseri. After the victory, Hyder Ali entered the Kingdom of Kottayam in present-day North Malabar and occupied it, with assistance from Kottayam Muslims, after some resistance by the Kottayam army.[5]

The first serious resistance encountered by Hyder Ali's army was in Kadathanad. A broad picture of atrocities as described by a Muslim officer of Mysore army in his diary and as edited by Ghulam Muhammad Sultan Sahib, only surviving son of Tipu Sultan, is given as;[6]

Nothing was to be seen on the roads for a distance of four leagues, nothing was found but only scattered limbs and mutilated bodies of Hindus. The country of Nairs was thrown into a general consternation which was much increased by the cruelty of the Mappilas who followed the invading cavalry of Hyder Ali Khan and massacred all those who escaped without sparing even women and children; so that the army advancing under the conduct of this enraged multitude Mappilas instead of meeting with continued resistance, found villages, fortresses, temples and every habitable place forsaken and deserted.
Thalassery fort, Thalassery

After the conquest of Kadathanad Hyder marched towards Calicut, the headquarters of Zamorin. Hyder claimed that his invasion was because Zamorin had failed to pay him the twelve lakhs as agreed in 1757. When Hyder approached Calicut, Zamorin sent his kin and kith to safehaven in Ponnani and Kottakkal. Zamorin himself was kept under house-arrest as he failed to pay Hyder's demanded sum and his finance minister was imprisoned and tortured to reveal any hidden treasures. Zamorin who was not permitted even to do his routine decided set fire to the gun-powder store of his palace and thus committed self-immolation.[7][8]

Hyder marched south and then moved towards Coimbatore through Palghat. But before he left. he appointed Raza Ali as military viceroy and Madanna as civil viceroy of his newly acquired province of Malabar.[8]

Anti-Mysore Uprisings (Second half of 1766)

Shortly after Reza Sahib, who was Hyder Ali's lieutenant in command, returned to Coimbatore, Hindus hidden in the forests[8] rebelled against him. They re-occupied forts and large portions of land with help of the monsoon season. By June, Hyder Ali had returned and imposed his troops on the rebels, killing many and deported over 15,000 Nairs to Kanara. One of the most critical battles occurred in Bettett Pudiyangadi in Vettathunad where Hindus were defeated completely. The Mysore army stormed the village and re-occupied it.

Sultan Bathery derives its present name from Tipu Sultan of Mysore who used the abandoned Jain temple here and used it as his battery hence the name Sultan's Battery.

The Gazetteers state that only 200 of 15,000 Nairs being deported to Kanara survived. Hyder's response was harsh, and after putting down the rebellion, many rebels were executed, and thousands of others were forcibly relocated to the Mysorean highlands. To prevent another armed uprising, Hyder Ali suggested anti-Nair laws to the district and levied additional taxes as punishment against rebellious Nair districts that had supported the English East India Company. Chaotically hundreds of Hindus escaped to the forest hideouts again.

In his book Tipu Sultan: As known in Kerala, Ravi Varma claims: "Hyder Ali despatched his Brahmin messengers to woods and mountains, with the promise of pardon and mercy to the Hindus who had fled. However, as soon as the unfortunate Hindus returned on his promise, Hyder made sure that they were all hanged to death and their wives and children reduced to slavery."[9]

Ravi Varma further states that:[10]

Before quitting the country (Malabar) Hyder Ali Khan by a solemn edict declared the Nairs deprived of all (social and political) privileges and (ordered) not to carry arms. This ordinance was found to make the submission of the proud Nairs absolutely impossible because they would have thought death preferable to such humiliations and degradation. Therefore, Hyder Ali Khan by another ordinance, consented to restore all social and political privileges including carrying of arms, to the Nairs who embraced the Mohammadan religion. Many nobles had to embrace Islam; but a significantly large section (Nairs, Chieftains and Brahmins) chose rather to take refuge in the Kingdom of Travancore in the South than to submit to the last ordinance.

After this events, an amnesty was proclaimed for the Nairs at Palghat. After the extinction of the Zamorin dynasty, second line successor to the thrown, the Eralppad, continued his attacks against the Mysore forces from South Malabar and eventually forced Hyder Ali to cede many parts of Malabar to local Hindu rulers, who were supported by the English East India Company.[11]

Palakkad Fort

At the start of 1767, the Mysore army unsuccessfully stormed the Kingdom of Travancore from the north.

In 1767, the whole of Malabar again revolted Hyder Ali's army of 4,000 men, who were defeated by 2,000 Kottayam Nairs in Northern Malabar. All baggage, arms and ammunition of army was looted by the Nair rebels. Mysorean garrisons were trapped by Nair rebels who seized the countryside and ambushed Mysore convoys and communications with great success.[7]

The following year, the English East India Company, under Captain Thomas Henry, sieged the Sultan Bathery Fort (Avara fort) to interrupt the supply of arms to Kannur of Ali Raja, with a promised help from local kingdoms. But the British were forced to retreat in the following war. Next year[clarification needed] the Mysore forces retreated from Malabar to Coimbatore, successfully crushing the uprising and built the strategic Palakkad Fort.[8]

At the end of 1768, Hyder Ali surprised East India Company authorities by mobilizing 6,000 cavalry and a small number of infantry, and, in three days, marched 130 miles (210 km) to the gates of Madras. This show of force compelled the company to negotiate further. Hyder, who was seeking diplomatic leverage against the Marathas, wanted an alliance of mutual defence and offence. The company refused to accede to an offensive military treaty; the treaty signed at Madras on March 29, 1769, restored the status quo ante bellum, except for Mysore's acquisition of Karur, and also included language that each side would help the other defend its territory.[12] As a result of this treaty and continued rebellions in Malabar, most of Nair kings got their kingdoms back as the ancient traditions of Kerala,[8] but on high cost treaties, except the strategic Kolathunad and Palakkad, the entries to Malabar. Years later, Kolathunad was given to Kolathiri through some negotiations. Skirmishes between Ali Raja and the company continued, and in 1770, the company reclaimed Randattara.

Hyder Ali's Second Invasion

In 1773, Mysore forces under Said Saheb and Srinivasarao marched to Malabar through the Thamarassery Pass and directly occupy the territories, claiming that Hindu Rajas had broke the ealier treaties.[8] Hyder conducted a second invasion during 1774 as he saw the economical background of the Kingdom of Travancore. Slowly he moved southwards and reached Travancore in 1776 along with a huge army. Hyder Ali was negotiating with the Dutch soon after conquering Malabar, but the Dutch, after their defeat in the Battle of Colachel to the Travancore Nair Army, decided to inform the King of Travancore of all developments.

The relics of the entrance of travancore lines

Hyder wanted free passage to Travancore through Dutch territories, which was refused. Soon rumours of a proposed invasion of Travancore started developing after Travancore refused to stop the construction of Nedumkotta fortification, which formed the Northern defences of Travancore. Also, Travancore has given refuge to the political foes of Hyder Ali from Malabar. Hyder Ali asked the Rajas of Cochin and of Travancore to compensate him for his Malabar campaign. Cochin was asked to pay a total of Rs.400,000 and ten elephants, while Travancore was asked to pay Rs.1,500,000 and thirty elephants. Although the Cochin Royals agreed to pay the amount and accepted the Mysore's superiority, King of Travancore replied, stating that it was "neither to please him nor in accordance with his advice that the invasion of Malabar was undertaken." But he stated that if Hyder Ali withdrew from Malabar with his forces and reinstated the local Rajas back in their kingdoms, he will provide some amount of money. Eventually the Mysore army began to move to Travancore from the north.

The Dutch military garrison at Cranganore Fort tried to stall the movement of the Mysore to Travancore. So Hyder asked his commander Sardar Khan to take an army of 10,000 along the Cochin territory. In August 1776, Cochin were invaded from the north and the fort at Trichur was captured. After the surrender of the Raja of Cochin, Hyder advanced to the Travancore Defence Lines. By this time Airoor and Chetuva Fort was ceded to Mysore. Meanwhile, the Dutch, with the help of the Travancore Nair Army, put down an attempt by the Mysore forces to capture the Cranganore Fort. The Raja of Cranganore, however surrendered to Hyder, though the Dutch stormed his palace and captured it in January 1778.

Relics of Cranganore Fort

After this incident, Hyder's forces engaged in small scale attacks and ambushes throughout Malabar, with the Travancore, English and Dutch forces as well as with rooting Nair mutineers in North Malabar. By 1778, the Mysore allied themselves with the French, who was at war with the British Empire. In the same year, the English captured Mahe and Puducherry. The newly-appointed king of Kolathunad was with the Mysore, providing crucial supplies to the war and by March, Kolathiri had occupied Randattara. Soon, Hyder Ali removed the kings of Kadathanad and Kottayam who were providing the English in their campaigns. However, after facing losses in Calicut, Palghat and Tinnevelly, Hyder retreated to Mysore before planning another attack on Travancore.[13][14]

Second Anglo-Mysore War

On 2 July, 1780, Hyder Ali declared war against the English East India Company, signalling the start of what was later called the Second Anglo-Mysore War.[15] By February 1782, Mahe, Dharpattom, Nitore, Calicut, and Palakkad Fort surrendered to the British under Major Abington followed by the death of Sardar Khan.[15]

During the summer of 1782, East India Company officials in Bombay sent additional troops to Tellicherry, from whence they began operations against Mysorean holdings in the Malabar. Hyder Ali sent his elder Tipu Sultan and a strong force to counter this threat.[15]

Tired of continues setbacks in Thalassery and other places, Hyder Ali then sent an army unit under Makhdoom Ali to Malabar to restrain the anti-Mysore rebellions. Meanwhile, Major Abington and Colonel Humberstone, who were in Calicut, were ordered to prevent the advance of Makhdoom Ali's army from the south. In the following battle in Tiroorangadi, more than 400 Mysore soldiers, including Makhdoom Ali, were killed. Colonel Humberstone chased the Mysore army to Ponnani, with the principal aim of capturing the Palakkad Fort. Due a thundering torrential storm in Ponnani River, however, Colonel Humberstone retreated to Calicut. Colonel Humberstone then moved his unit up to Trithala and the neighbourhoods of Mankeri Fort, but again retreated to Ponnani again due to the fear of a surprise attack from the Mysore-Ali Raja coalition forces intended to siege forces in the extreme conditions. Major Macleod subsequently reached Ponnani before taking over the command of British forces on the Malabar Coast.[15]

Shortly, Tipu's forces stormed the English camped at Ponnani, but 200 of his men were killed so he temporarily retreated. Simultaneously, a naval force under Edward Hughes reached Ponnani, but the Mysore army threatened the struggling English with a dreadful attack at any time. But, when Tipu learned of Hyder Ali's sudden death on December 7, 1782, due to cancer. Tipu Sultan's precipitate departure from the scene provided some relief to the British force, but Bombay officials sent further reinforcements under General Matthews to Ponnani in late December to relieve before they learned of Hyder's passing.[15]

The British captured Mangalore in March 1783, but Tipu, now the ruler of Mysore, recaptured Bednorem before besieging and eventually capturing Mangalore. At the same time, in the Tanjore region, Stuart's army joined with those of Colonel Fullarton before the latter marched along the Dindigul-Dharapuram-Palakkad route and sieged the Palakkad Fort. Captain Midland and Sir Thomas under Colonel Fullarton successfully captured Palakkad Fort on November 14, 1783. During this time, company officials, having received orders from London to bring an end to the war, entered negotiations with Tipu Sultan. Pursuant to a preliminary ceasefire, Colonel Fullarton was ordered to abandon all of his recent conquests. However, due to allegations that Tipu violated terms of the ceasefire at Mangalore, Fullarton remained at Palakkad Fort. A prince from the Zamorin dynasty later emerged and the English retreated conferring the Fort to the prince. Tipu's forces marched to Palakkad fort and occupied it with the entire south Malabar.[15]

In December 1783, General Macleod, with fresh support of the French, captured Cannanore from the Arakkal Beebi, who was a long time ally of Mysore in Malabar. This was followed by Beebi's failed negotiation attempt with the British.[15]

The war was ended on March 11, 1784 with the signing of the Treaty of Mangalore, in which both sides agreed to restore the others' lands to the status quo ante bellum. Now by the treaty, the British (and the Nair kings) controlled the entire north Malabar, and Mysore ruled south Malabar. And by the treaty, General Macleod was forced to move back forces from Cannanore.[15]

Ayaz Khan (Hyat Saheb)

Muhammad Ayaz Khan (born Kumaran Nambiar), a convert to Islam, was one of the hundreds of Nair boys deported to Mysore after the 1766 invasion of Hyder Ali. Kammaran Nambiar slowly rose as to the Nawab of Bednore. According to Mark Wilks, Tipu Sultan was jealous of and opposed him and the very beginning since Hyder Ali had considered the latter more intelligent. After the ascension of Tipu Sultan in 1782, Khan moved to the British side and lived rest of his life in Bombay.[16]

More anti-Mysore uprisings

After the war, the Mysore ruled part of Malabar which experienced numerous anti-Mysore uprisings, even by the local Mappila population, mostly against the new land taxes. Tipu Sultan therefore appointed the officer Arshad Beg Khan as the Civil Governor of Malabar. Khan soon retired from service and advised to Tipu to visit the region on his own. In 1788, Tipu paid an official visit to Malabar and talked with the Resident Gribble about the construction of new city near Beypore.[15]

Rebellion by Ravi Varma

The forced conversion of Hindus resulted in widespread protests in Malabar. In August 1788, the Raja of Parappanad, a chieftain of Nilamboor, Trichera Thiruppad, and many other Hindu nobles who had been carried away earlier to Coimbatore by Tipu Sultan, were forcibly converted to Islam. Nairs rose up against their the Muslims under Mysore rule.[17]

In 1788, Ravi Varma, a rebel hailed from the Zamorin dynasty, proclaimed his rule of the region and marched to Calicut with his Nair army. Though Tipu conferred on him a jagir, or vast area of tax-free land, to appease him, the Zamorin prince, after promptly taking charge of the jaghire, continued his rebellion against the Mysore power. The Nair army defeated under the superior Mysore lines lead by M. Lally and Mir Asar Ali Khan.[15] However, during the above operations, Ravi Varma assisted not less than 30,000 Brahmins to flee the country and take refuge in Travancore.[18]

Almost all female members and many male members of different Royal families such as Chirackal, Parappanad, and Calicut, and chieftains' families like Punnathoor, Nilamboor, Kavalapara and Azhvanchery Thamprakkal, fled to Travancore to escape from Tipu's army and temporarily settled down in different parts of Travancore. Even after the fall of Tipu Sultan in Srirangapatanam, many of these families preferred to remain in Travancore because of the Mappilas' atrocities in the past.

Rebellion by Manjeri Hassan

Manjeri Hassan led an unsuccessful rebellion by Malabar Mappilas[clarification needed] against the heavy agricultural tax imposed by Mysore. The rebels killed Manjeri Thampuran, a local Nair ruler, and captured Arshad Beg Khan. The rebellion was quickly crushed and Hassan, along with his son and his followers, were captured and taken as hostages to Srirangapatinam, where they remained until Tipu Sultan's death.[19]

Invasions by Tipu Sultan

In 1787, the Mysore captured Iruvazhinadu by virtually killing Kurungothu Nair,[clarification needed] the ruler of Iruvazhinadu and an old ally of the French.[15] The French then became the closest ally of Mysore, continuing to supply arms to the kingdom. Tipu Sultan decided to invade Malabar as he saw the control of ports and access of routs to them highly strategic. In the meantime, Arakkal Beebi allied with the English and Kolathiri replaced them as the ally of Mysore. Kolathiri captured Randattara and Darmadom from the English. Later in 1789, however, the company recaptured Darmadom. Tipu Sultan received invitations from some kings of Malabar, especially from the ruler of Cannanore, and soon the Mysore forces were in Malabar.[8]

The kingdom of Travancore had been a target of Tipu for acquisition or conquest since the end of the Second Anglo-Mysore War. Indirect attempts to take over the kingdom failed had failed in 1788, and Archibald Campbell, the Madras president at the time, had warned Tipu that an attack on Travancore would be treated as a declaration of war on the company.[20] Initially Tipu Sultan tried to induce Travancore tactically with the help of the Kingdom of Cochin, but the King of Cochin refused and allied with Travancore.[8]

Monitoring closely the invasion of Mysore on Malabar and Cochin, Travancore was prepared for a full scale military movement. The Rajah of Travancore also angered Tipu by extending Nedunkotta fortifications along the border with Mysore into territory claimed by Mysore, and by purchasing from the Dutch East India Company the Cranganore and Pallippuram Forts, in the Kingdom of Cochin, a state paying tribute to Tipu.

Tipu Sultan

In 1789, Tipu sent forces to the Malabar Coast to put down a rebellion; many fled to Travancore and Cochin in the wake of his advance.[21] In late 1789, Tipu began to build up troops at Coimbatore in preparation for an assault on the Nedumkotta, a fortified line of defence built by Dharma Raja of Travancore to protect his domain. Cornwallis, observing this buildup, reiterated to Campbell's successor, John Holland, that an attack on Travancore should be considered a declaration of war, and be met with a strong British response. Tipu, aware that Holland was not the experienced military officer that Campbell was, and that he did not have the close relationship that Campbell and Cornwallis had (both had served in North America in the American War of Independence), probably decided that this was an opportune time to attack.[15]

Battle of the Nedumkotta (Travancore-Mysore War)

On December 20, 1789, Tipu Sultan attacked the Nedunkotta from the north, signalling the start of the Battle of the Nedumkotta. Before completing the battle, however, Tipu retreated due to the damp weather and the simultaneous attacks by the English against Mysore.[8] Virtually, Battle of the Nedumkotta was the event lead to the Third Anglo-Mysore War.[citation needed] Tipu reached Nedumkotta on December 28, 1789. Out of his army numbering several tens of thousands, about 14,000 along with 500 local Muslims marched towards the fortification. By 29 December, a large portion of the right flank of Nedumkotta was under the control of Mysore army. Only a 16 feet (4.9 m) wide and 20 feet (6.1 m) deep ditch separated the Kingdom of Travancore from Mysorean forces. Tipu commanded his soldiers to level up the ditch, so that his army can advance, while retreating Travancorean soldiers and militiamen regrouped on the other side of the ditch. Unable to fill the ditch under heavy fire from the Travancoreans, Tipu ordered his soldiers to march forward through a very narrow passage.[4] This move backfired on the Mysoreans, as a group of two dozen Nair militiamen from the Nandyat kalari under Vaikom Padmanabha Pillai ambushed their enemies half-way. A few dozen Mysorean soldiers died of direct gun-fire, and the commanding officer was killed. Many more panicked and in the ensuing chaos fell in to the ditch and died. The reinforcements sent by the Mysoreans were prevented from merging with the main contingent by a batch of the Travancore regular army. Tipu himself fell from his palanquin and was nearly stampeded. He was seriously wounded and was permanently lame.[5][6]

Afterwards, the Nairs of Travancore recovered the sword, the pallanquin, the dagger, the ring and many other personal effects of Tipu from the ditches of the Nedumkotta and presented them to the Maharajah of Travancore. Some of them were sent to the Nawab of Arcot (one of Tipu's archrivals) on his request. The Mysorean army suffered 2,000 deaths and many thousands were injured. Several high-ranking Mysorean officers were taken prisoner, including five Europeans and one Maratha. After the defea, Tipu regrouped and captured the Nedumkotta line several months later. His forces were once again defeated by the Travancoreans near the Alwaye River in 1790.

Fall of Calicut

In 1789, Tipu marched to Kozhikode with a 60,000-strong army, destroyed the fort, and razed the town to the ground. Gunddart said in his Kerala Pazhama that it is just not possible to describe the cruel atrocities perpetrated by Tipu Sultan in Kozhikode. William Logan gives in his Malabar Manual a long list of temples destroyed by Tipu Sultan and his army.[7] Elankulam Kunjan Pillai has recorded the situation in Malabar as follows:[22][23]

Kozhikode was then a centre of Brahmins. There were around 7000 Namboodiri houses of which more than 2000 houses were destroyed by Tipu Sultan in Kozhikode alone. Sultan did not spare even children and women. Menfolk escaped to forests and neighbouring principalities. Mappilas increased many fold (due to forcible conversion). During the military regime of Tipu Sultan, Hindus were forcibly circumcised and converted to Muhammadan faith. As a result of Tipu's atrocities, strength of Nairs and Cheramars significantly diminished in number. Namboodiris also substantially decreased in number.

Atrocities committed in Malabar during the days of Tipu Sultan's military regime have been described in great detail in the works of many reputed authors. Notable among them, Travancore State Manual of T.K. Velu Pillai and Kerala Sahitya Charitam of Ulloor Parameshwara Iyer.[24]

In a letter dated January 18, 1790, to Syed Abdul Dulai, Tipu writes:[25]

With the grace of Prophet Mohammed and Allah, almost all Hindus in Calicut are converted to Islam. Only on the borders of Cochin State a few are still not converted. I am determined to convert them also very soon. I consider this as Jehad to achieve that object.

British take the Malabar

In late 1790, British forces took control of the Malabar Coast. A force under Colonel Hartley gained a decisive victory at Calicut in December, while a second under Robert Abercromby routed the Mysoreans at Cannanore a few days later.[26]

Battle of Calicut (1790)

The Battle of Calicut (also called the "Battle of Thiroorangadi") was a series of engagements that took place between December 7 and 12, 1790, at Thiroorangadi. Three regiments from the British East India Company, consisting of 1,500 men, led by Lieutenant Colonel James Hartley, decisively defeated a 9,000-man Mysorean army, killing or wounding about 1,000, and taking a large number of prisoners, including the commander, Hussein Ali.

Capture of Cannanore

The Capture of Cannanore took place on December 17, 1790. Forces of the British East India Company, led by General Robert Abercromby, began besieging Cannanore, held by troops of Mysore and of the Rajah of Cannanore on December 14. After gaining control of the high ground commanding the city's main fort, the defenders surrendered. The British victory, along with the taking of Calicut by a separate force a few days earlier, secured their control over the Malabar Coast.

Battle of Tellicherry

The Battle of Tellicherry was a naval action between British and French warships. Britain and France were not at war at the time of the engagement, but French support for the Kingdom of Mysore in the conflict with the British East India Company had led to Royal Navy patrols stopping and searching French ships sailing for the Mysorean port of Mangalore.

End of Mysore rule

By the Treaty of Seringapatam signed in 1792, Malabar ceded to the English East India Company. The treaty resulted in a sharp curtailment of Mysore's borders to the advantage of the Mahrattas, the Nizam of Hyderabad, and the Madras Presidency. The districts of Malabar, Salem, Bellary and Anantapur were ceded to the Madras Presidency.[27]

Changes in Malabar

Sultans of Mysore changed the ancient landlord system in Malabar just like the changes which took place in Kingdom of Cochin and Travancore. To control the region, Tipu Sultan adopted strong measures against Nair nobles of Malabar and established a centralised administrative system. This was not totally beneficial for the local Muslims, who were mostly traders. The changes in Malabar due to the Mysore invasions were as follows:

  • Due to the fleeing of the local Nair chieftains and landlords to Travancore lead to a redistribution of landed wealth. However, for revenues, Tipu introduced the "Jamabandi" system to collect taxes directly from peasants.
  • Land was surveyed extensively and classified. Taxes were fixed considering difference of land and crops and for some crops taxes were reduced.
  • Tipu introduced monopoly in products like pepper, coconut, tobacco, sandalwood, teak etc. This was a change from the time of the Zamorins where the muslim merchants were free to trade in the above commodities, and "Kozhikode Angadi" was known for its prosperity. Under the circumstances, the muslim merchants had no other choice but to become peasants.
  • The roads developed by Tipu for military purposes were helpful for the development of trade

During the rule of Tipu Sultan tens of thousands of Nairs, besides about 30,000 Brahmins, fled Malabar to seek refuge in Travancore, leaving behind their wealth,.[28] According to M. Gangadharan, there is evidence that many Hindus were converted into Islam. In one of the most widely documented cases, the army invaded Kadathanadu and forcibly converted the Nair soldiers, who was holding out for many weeks against the much army without adequate weapons or food.[29]

Upper- and lower-caste Hindus suffered from the Mysore invasion. Almost a fourth of the Nair population was wiped out and many more were forcibly converted. The Nambuthiris (Brahmins) were also severely affected. According to various rough sources, about half the Hindu population of Malabar fled the country to the forests or Tellicherry and Travancore. They included most of the Hindu Rajas and chieftains who could not resist the invading Mysore army. The Chirackal, Parappanad, Ballussery, Kurumbranad, Kadathanad, Palghat and Calicut royal families migrated to Travancore. The chieftain families which did the same were those of Punnathur, Kavalappara and Azhvancherry Thamprakkal.[clarification needed] Even the Cochin royal family moved to Vaikkom Palace near the famous Shiva Temple when Tipu Sultan's army reached Alwaye.

Many members of the royal families of Malabar who migrated to Travancore preferred to remain there despite the withdrawal of Tipu's army and restoration of peace due to the harsh experience and the peculiar "psyche" of Muslim population in Malabar. The prominent royal families were; (1) Neerazhi Kovilakam, (2) Gramathil Kottaram, (3) Paliyakkara, (4) Nedumparampu, (5) Chempra Madham, (6) Ananthapuram Kottaram, (7) Ezhimatoor Palace, (8) Aranmula Kottaram, (9) Varanathu Kovilakam, (10) Mavelikkara, (11) Ennakkadu, (12) Murikkoyikkal Palace, (13) Mariappilly, (14) Koratti Swaroopam, (15) Kaippuzha Kovilakam, (16) Lakshmipuram Palace, and (17) Kottapuram.[clarification needed]

Karthika Thirunal Rama Varma, the King of Travancore earned the title was addressed as Dharma Raja on account of his strict adherence to Dharma Sastra, the principles of justice by providing asylum to the thousands of Hindus fleeing Malabar. He is also credited with beating back Tipu's assault on Kerala.

Shifting of the idol of Sree Guruvayoorappan

In 1766, Hyder Ali of Mysore captured Calicut and then Guruvayur. To spare the template, Ali demanded 10,000 fanams (a form of currency), which was paid, but due to insecurity, pilgrims receded, the supply of rice was stopped and the tenants stopped annual dues. On the request of the Malabar Governor, Shrinivasa Rao, Hyder Ali granted a devadaya (free gift) and the temple was saved from destruction. In 1789, Tipu Sultan invaded Zamorin's province. Apprehending the destruction, the idol was hidden underground and the Utsava vigraha was taken to Ambalapuzha by Mallisseri Namboodiri and Kakkad Othikkan. Later the idol shifted from Ambalappuzha to Mavelikkara. Tipu destroyed the smaller shrines and set fire to the Temple, but it was saved due to timely rain. Tipu lost to the Zamorin and the English in 1792. The hidden idol and the Utsava vigraha were re-installed on September 17, 1792. But the daily poojas and routines were seriously affected.[10]

Ethnic cleansing

Tipu Sultan "Islamized" the place names across Malabar; Mangalapuram (Mangalore) was changed to Jalalabad, Cannanore (Kanwapuram) to Kusanabad, Beypore (Vaippura) to Sultanpatanam or Faruqui, and Calicut (Kozhikode) to Islamabad. It was only after the death of Tipu Sultan that the local people reverted to old names; however, only one of the names is intact, Feroke. In Cherunad, Vettathunad, Eranad, Valluvanad, Thamarassery and other interior areas, local Mappilas unleashed a reign of terror on the Hindu population, mainly to retain the occupied land of Hindu landlords and to establish their domination over Hindus. Fearing the organised robberies and violence, people could not even travel freely in the Malabar hinterland of predominantly Mappila population.[30]

Writing on January 19, 1790, to Badroos Saman Khan, Tipu Sultan said;[31]

I have achieved a great victory recently in Malabar and over four lakh Hindus were converted to Islam. I am now determined to march against the cursed Raman Nair (Dharma Raja Karthika Thirunal Rama Varma).

Father Bartolomaco, a Portuguese traveller and historian, claims;[32]

First a corps of 30,000 barbarians who butchered everybody on the way… followed by the field-gun unit under the French Commander, M. Lally. Tipu was riding on an elephant behind which another army of 30,000 soldiers followed. Most of the men and women were hanged in Calicut, first mothers were hanged with their children tied to necks of mothers. That barbarian Tipu Sultan tied the naked Christians and Hindus to the legs of elephants and made the elephants to move around till the bodies of the helpless victims were torn to pieces. Temples and churches were ordered to be burned down, desecrated and destroyed. Christian and Hindu women were forced to marry Mohammadans and similarly their men were forced to marry Mohammadan women. Those Christians who refused to be honoured with Islam, were ordered to be killed by hanging immediately. These atrocities were told to me by the victims of Tipu Sultan who escaped from the clutches of his army and reached Varappuzha, which is the centre of Carmichael Christian Mission. I myself helped many victims to cross the Varappuzha river by boats

In a letter dated February 13, 1790, addressed to Budruz Zuman Khan, Tipu Sultan writes;[33]

Your two letters, with the enclosed memorandums of the Naimar (or Nair) captives, have been received. You did right in ordering a hundred and thirty-five of them to be circumcised, and in putting eleven of the youngest of these into the Usud Ilhye band (or class) and the remaining ninety-four into the Ahmedy Troop, consigning the whole, at the same time, to the charge of the Kilaaddar of Nugr.

Many Hindus belonging to lower castes accepted conversion to Islam under the Mysore rule. However, many others, especially the Thiyyas, fled to Tellicherry and Mahe.

Extermination of Nairs

In 1788, Tipu Sultan gave strict orders to his army under M. Lally and Mir Asrali Khan to "surround and extricate the whole race of Nairs from Kottayam to Palghat".[34] This incident is known as The Order of Extermination of the Nayars by Tipu Sultan. After entrusting Calicut to a powerful army contingent, he instructed it "to surround the woods and seize the heads of all Nair factions".

A small army of 2,000 Nairs of Kadathanadu resisted the invasion of the huge army of Tipu Sultan from a fortress in Kuttipuram for a few weeks soon the rebels were reduced to starvation and death. Tipu Sultan entered the fort and offered to spare their lives, provided they accepted conversion to Islam. After several days of resistance, and finding it difficult to defend the fort any longer, the Nairs submitted to the usual terms of surrender – a voluntary profession of the Islam or a forced conversion with deportation from the land. The unhappy Nair captives gave a forced consent and on the next day, they were converted and at closing the ceremony every individual of both men and women was forced to eat beef, which was prohibited to them by faith.

All the members of one branch of Parappanad Royal Family were forcibly converted to Islam except for one or two who escaped from Tipu's army. Similarly, one Thiruppad belonging to Nilamboor Royal Family was also forcibly abducted and converted to Islam. Thereafter, it was reported that further conversions of Hindus were attempted through those converts.[35]

When the Kolathiri Raja eventually surrendered and paid tribute, Tipu killed him, dragged his dead body tied to the feet of an elephant through the streets, and finally hanged him from a tree-top to show his contempt for Hindu Rajas. Palghat Raja, Ettipangi Achan, who had surrendered, was imprisoned on suspicion and later taken to Sreerangapatanam. Nothing was heard of him subsequently.

While escaping from Tipu's army, one of the princes of the Chirackal Royal family in North Malabar was captured and killed in an encounter after a chase of few days. As per the accounts of Tipu's own diary and as confirmed by the English Company records, the body of the unfortunate prince was treated with great indignities by Tipu Sultan. "He had the dead body of the prince dragged by elephants through his camp and it was subsequently hung up on a tree along with seventeen of his followers who had been captured alive". Another chieftain, Korangoth Nair, who had resisted Tipu, was finally captured with the help of the French and hanged.[36]

Destruction of Hindu temples

According to the Malabar Manual of William Logan, Thrichambaram and Thalipparampu temples in Chirackal Taluk, Thiruvangatu Temple (Brass Pagoda) in Tellicherry, and Ponmeri Temple near Badakara were all destroyed by the Mysore forces of Tipu Sultan. The Malabar Manual mention that the Maniyoor mosque was once a Hindu temple. The local belief is that it was converted to a mosque during the days of Mysore rule of Tipu Sultan.[37]

Vatakkankoor Raja Raja Varma in his famous literary work, History of Sanskrit Literature in Kerala, has written the following about the loss and destruction faced by the Hindu temples in Kerala during the regime of Tipu Sultan:

There was no limit as to the loss the Hindu temples suffered due to the military operations of Tipu Sultan. Burning down the temples, destruction of the idols installed therein and also cutting the heads of cattle over the temple deities were the cruel entertainments of Tipu Sultan and his equally cruel army. It was heartrending even to imagine the destruction caused by Tipu Sultan in the famous ancient temples of Thalipparampu and Thrichambaram. The devastation caused by this new Ravana's barbarous activities have not yet been fully rectified.

Hyder Ali had exempted temples from the payment of land tax. But Tipu Sultan forced the temples to pay heavy taxes. The famous Hemambika Temple at Kalpathi of the Palghat Raja who had surrendered to Hyder Ali, the Kachamkurissi Temple of the Kollamkottu Raja who had deserted the Zamorin and sided with Hyder Ali, and also the Jain Temple at Palghat suffered serious damages during the rule of Tipu Sultan. Other famous temples were looted and desecrated.

According to certain personal diary notes of Tipu Sultan, the Chirackal Raja offered to pay over Rs. 4 lakh in gold and silver to save the destruction of the local Hindu temples by Tipu Sultan's army. But, Tipu replied that[38] "Even if the entire world is offered to me, I will not desist from destroying Hindu temples"

See also

  • Pazhassi Raja
  • Ravi Varma of Padinjare Kovilakam
  • Siege of Tellicherry


  1. ^ Goel, Sita (1993). Tipu Sultan: villain or hero? : an anthology. Voice of India. p. 38. ISBN 9788185990088. 
  2. ^ Sharma, Hari (1991). The real Tipu: a brief history of Tipu Sultan. Rishi publications. p. 112. 
  3. ^ Purushottam. Must India go Islamic?. P.S. Yog. 
  4. ^ Journal of Indian history, Volume 55 By University of Allahabad. Dept. of Modern Indian History, University of Kerala. Dept. of History, University of Travancore, University of Kerala. pp.144
  5. ^ Kerala District Gazetteers: & suppl. Kozhikole By Kerala (India). Dept. of Education, A. Sreedhara Menon p.149
  6. ^ Tipu Sultan: As known in Kerala, by Ravi Varma. p.508
  7. ^ a b c Malabar Manual by Logan
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i Balarama Digest-March 24, 2007, Published by Malayala Manorama Group
  9. ^ Tipu Sultan: As known in Kerala, by Ravi Varma. p.468
  10. ^ Kerala District Gazetteers: & suppl. Kozhikole By Kerala (India). Dept. of Education, A. Sreedhara Menon p.150-152
  11. ^ "Tipu Sultan - Villain Or Hero?". Retrieved 2011-11-15. 
  12. ^ Bowring, p. 57, 58
  13. ^ Travancore State Manual by T.K Velu Pillai, Pages 373 to 385
  14. ^ The Travancore state manual by Aiya, V. Nagam. pp.381–384
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Malabar Manual, Logan, William
  16. ^ History of Mysore by Mark Wilks
  17. ^ Tipu Sultan: As known in Kerala, by Ravi Varma. p.507
  18. ^ History of Tipu Sultan By Mohibbul Hasan p.141-143
  19. ^ Kerala State gazetteer, Volume 2, Part 2 By Adoor K. K. Ramachandran Nair p.174
  20. ^ Fortescue, p. 549
  21. ^ Fortescue, p. 548
  22. ^ Mathrubhoomi Weekly of December 25, 1955
  23. ^ Kerala District Gazetteers: Cannanore By A. Sreedhara Menon p.134-137
  24. ^ "The Sword Of Tipu Sultan". 1990-02-25. Retrieved 2011-11-15. 
  25. ^ K.M. Panicker, Bhasha Poshini
  26. ^ Fortescue, p. 561
  27. ^ David Eggenberger, An Encyclopedia of Battles, 1985
  28. ^ (according to the commission of enquiry appointed by the English soon after Tipu Sultan's death).
  29. ^ Gazetteer of the Bombay Presidency, Volume 1, Part 2 By Bombay (India : State) p.660
  30. ^ Kerala under Haidar Ali and Tipu Sultan By C. K. Kareem p.198
  31. ^ Historical Sketches of the South of India in an attempt to trace the History of Mysore, Mark Wilks Vol II, page 120
  32. ^ Voyage to East Indies by Fr.Bartolomaco, pgs 141–142
  33. ^ Selected Letters of Tipoo Sultan by Kirkpatrick
  34. ^ "Tipu Sultan: villain or hero? : an ... - Sita Ram Goel - Google Books". 2008-08-29. Retrieved 2011-11-15. 
  35. ^ Rise and fulfilment of English rule in India By Edward John Thompson, Geoffrey Theodore Garratt p.209
  36. ^ Tipu Sultan: villain or hero? : an anthology By Sita Ram Goel p.31
  37. ^ Malabar Manual by William Logan
  38. ^ Freedom Struggle by Sardar Panicker

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