Tipu Sultan – a History of Bigotry and Barbarities Outside Karnataka- I

This article narrates Tipu’s trail of terror in the Malabar, and continue to show the same behaviour in both Travancore and the regions of Tamizh Nadu that he ruled.


In the previous article [33], we recounted the barbarities and bigotry of Tipu Sultan in the region of (current) Karnataka.  We recounted his numerous outrages on everyone from those in Mysore, to those of his poligars in Chiradurga, Nargund, Kittur, etc. to his brutalities on his own officers like Shamaiah and Rangaiah and his horrific brutalities on the people of Canara and Coorg.  [33]. In this article, we shall pursue Tipu’s brutalities and barbarities beyond the borders of Karnataka and show that his cruelties were neither limited by time, nor by space.  We shall follow his trail of terror in the Malabar, and continue to show the same behaviour in both Travancore and the regions of Tamizh Nadu that he ruled.  We shall further show that his actions were consistent with basic theological tenets of Islam, as can be found in Quran and Hadith.

In our article, we have relied on a wide variety of references, both contemporary and that of later historians.  Of the contemporary sources, we have relied on Tipu’s own letters [5], [31], that of his official biographer, Kirmani, [29] (a Muslim source), that of his treasury official, Ramachandra Rao Punganuri, [31], (a Hindu source), that of Fra, Bartolomeo (a Portuguese missionary source) and several British sources (Hamilton-Buchanan [25], [26], Col. Mark Wilks [15], [16], and Col. Kirkpatrick [5]).  Of later sources, we have relied on reputed historians like Sankunni Menon [1] of Travancore, and KP Padmanabha Menon [21]. [22], Krishna Ayyar [20], KM Panikkar [32], and Hayavadana Rao [23]. [24]. and Lewin Bowring [3].  A few other local sources and events have also been used with proper citation.

The article has been divided into two parts to make it manageable in size.  The first part considers the origin of Tipu’s Jihad and his barbarities and religious bigotry in the Malabar, and the second part covers the effect of Tipu’s Jihad in the Malabar, his temple destruction and the atrocities in Travancore, Coimbatore and other parts of the south, along with the conclusion.

Section A: Malabar

Tipu himself had remarked that he was embarking on a Jihad against the Hindus.  Most of Tipu’s outrages and anti-Hindu activities were carried out in Malabar.  Malabar was among the richest of Tipu’s provinces and also the most unruly.  Tipu and his Moplah allies devastated the region.  These activities of Tipu have been described in gory detail by several authors.  We will proceed to detail Tipu’s atrocities.  However, first a word about the term `Nairs’ is in order.  The term appears to have been used loosely, often, for all non-Brahmin landowning classes of the Malabar and Travancore, rather than as a specific reference to a caste.

The province of Malabar had repeatedly risen in revolt, both against Haidar and Tipu.  The barbarities of both Haidar and Tipu precluded a peaceful rule by the Mysore kings in the region.  But the treaty of Mangalore, at the end of the second Mysore war, left the region and its rulers to Tipu.  In his chronicle of the Zamorins of Calicut, Krishna Ayyar relates that “… the Treaty of Mangalore concluded in 1784, restored Malabar to Tippu and exposed the Hindus to a religious persecution and suffering, unparalleled in the history of any other country.’’ p. 250, [20]

Section A2: The Original Threat by Tipu and Forcible Conversion

The province of Malabar had revolted against Haidar too in the past, but none ever let loose the savagery on Malabar that Tipu did.  Indeed, Tipu himself had announced his intention to forcibly convert the population of Malabar to Islam, if ever they rebelled, as Innes, and Hayavadana Rao point out,” From the period of the conquest until this day, during twenty-four years, you have been a turbulent and refractory people, and in the wars waged during your rainy season, you have caused numbers of our warriors to taste the draught of martyrdom. Be it so. What is past is past. Hereafter you must proceed in an opposite manner, dwell quietly and pay your dues like good subjects: and since it is the practice with you for one woman to associate with ten men, and you leave your mothers and sisters unconstrained in their obscene practices, and are thence all born in adultery, and are more shameless in your connections than the beasts of the field : I hereby require you to forsake these sinful practices and to be like the rest of mankind; and if you are disobedient to these commands, I have made repeated vows to honour the whole of you with Islam and to march all the chief persons to the seat of Government.” p. 72, [11], pp. 717-718, [24].  

The threat to `honour’ the entire population with Islam has also been chronicled by KM Panikkar.  Quoting from the Hukmnameh of Tipu to the Malabar Hindus, Panikkar writes, “In the course of the last 25 years, you have slain near a hundred thousand of the Sircar’s soldiers, and repeatedly committed excesses.  Now (or henceforward) you must desist from these proceedings; but if you should ever be guilty of the like, or engage in war or tumult against the Ahmedy Sircar, we will, with the blessing of God, the Helper, act by you according to the Book of God; and of the Messenger of God, will confer upon you the honour of Islam, and place, every individual of you in the Ahmedy ranks.’’ pp. 358-359, [32]

Lewin Bowring also corroborates Tipu’s zealotry in Malabar and his threats against its people, stating, “He next proceeded to Calicut, which offered him a fine field for showing his zeal for Islam by reforming the pestilential customs of the province.  He at once issued a proclamation, denouncing the custom of polyandry, and informing the people that if they did not desist from such a pernicious practice usage, they would all be ‘honoured with Islam,’ and their headmen deported to Seringapatam.  With this object, he appointed sundry religious teachers to supervise their domestic morals and teach the true faith.” pp. 135-136, [3]

It is interesting to see Tipu’s fury against polyandry, while he himself maintained a vast harem of women.  In other words, taking multiple women, who were captives in war as his sex slaves was acceptable to Tipu, but polyandry was not.  This view of Tipu flows directly from the Koran, which permits polygamy.  Further, the Muslim kings (Akbar included) were infamous for maintaining vast harems.  It is true that many Hindu kings also were polygamous, but few, if any, attempted to change the customs of polyandry and never by `honouring’ the entire suspected polyandrous populace with Islam.  We shall cite a few verses that show that Tipu’s contempt for women came directly from the Koranic doctrine.  4:24 of the Koran states that “And [also prohibited to you are all] married women except those your right hands possess. [This is] the decree of Allah upon you. And lawful to you are [all others] beyond these, [provided] that you seek them [in marriage] with [gifts from] your property, desiring chastity, not unlawful sexual intercourse. So for whatever you enjoy [of marriage] from them, give them their due compensation as an obligation. And there is no blame upon you for what you mutually agree to beyond the obligation. Indeed, Allah is ever Knowing and Wise.’’ 4:24, [36]  In short, it was permissible for Tipu to take the wives, sisters and daughters of infidels in war into his own harem.  This is confirmed by other statements from the Hadith too, which state, ``Abu Sa’id al-Khudri (Allah be pleased with him) reported that at the Battle of Hanain Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) sent an army to Autas and encountered the enemy and fought with them. Having overcome them and taken them captives, the Companions of Allah’s Messenger (may peace te upon him) seemed to refrain from having intercourse with captive women because of their husbands being polytheists. Then Allah, Most High, sent down regarding that:” And women already married, except those whom your right hands possess (iv. 24)” (i. e. they were lawful for them when their ‘Idda period came to an end).’’ Book 008, Number 3432, [42]

When the revolt, in part invited by Tipu’s own brutal rule occurred, Tipu was happy to translate his intentions to ground reality.  Tipu not only forcibly converted the kings and princes who were guilty of the revolt, but turned the entire population of the Malabar into his enemy.  He pursued them into forests and caves where they had taken refuge and forcibly converted all he could lay his hands on.

The famous historian of Kerala, Sankunni Menon, who wrote the History of Travancore writes thus of Tipu’s atrocities in Malabar in 1788-1789, “The worst of Tippoo’s tyrannical proceedings was that he ordered the conversion of all the Hindus indiscriminately, whether of high caste or low caste, male or female, to the Mussalman faith, and all who acknowledge the prophet were menaced with death.  

Tipu descended into the Malabar with the intention of compelling the Nayars to submit to Islam, but the Nayars refused pitched battles and retired to the mountain and forest refuges.  Then, as KM Panikkar points out, “Baulked of his intention of `honouring’ the whole community with Islam, the Sultan organised what was a veritable manhunt.  He divided up his army into small detachments with orders to scour the country and enforce his social reforms on the unwilling Nayars, and on refusal to convert them to Islam at the point of the sword.’’  p. 360, [32]

This is confirmed by Ramachandra Rao Punganuri as well, who points out that Tipu marched in 1787 across the Tamaracherry pass and extracted a fortune from the Brahmins and Nairs as `nazars’ (gifts).  In all, he seized Rs. 20 lakh of wealth from the people of Malabar. p. 39, [31].

Tipu’s brutal measures to exterminate the Hindus from the Malabar is narrated at length by Ravi Varma.  He writes, “Tipu Sultan who 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,” (p. 508, [6]). After entrusting Calicut to a powerful army contingent, he instructed it “to surround the woods and seize the heads of all Nair factions”. He then proceeded to North Malabar to suppress the spreading revolt under Kadathanad and Pazhassi Rajas. Prior to this, Tipu had sent a formal request to the English Company at Tellicherry asking them “not to give protection and shelter to Nairs fleeing from South Malabar” (p. 509, [6]). A similar letter had been sent to the English Company in Tellicherry by Hyder Ali Khan in 1764 before he launched his Malabar invasion (Kerala History by A.S. Sreedhara Menon, p. 372).”, ch.04, [4]

As we have seen in the earlier sections, Tipu had held out a threat to `honour’ the entire Malabar with Islam.  Once the Hindus of Malabar rose in revolt, Tipu began to carry out his threat with the utmost cruelty and brutality.  Speaking further on the forcible conversion of the Nairs and other Hindus, PCN Raja writes, “Then he marched upto Kumbla on the northern borders of Kerala, forcibly converting to Islam every Hindu on the way. This time, his argument (repeated by the Muslim and secularist historians of today) was that if all belonged to one religion – Muhammadanism – there would be unity and consequently it would be easy to defeat the British!” ch.02, [4].  Right from the beginning, Tipu embarked upon forced conversions.  This is noticed by Ramachandra Rao Punganuri, who states that, Tipu halted in the neighbourhood of Ahmadnagar and Chakatur after descending the Thamarassery pass into Kozhikode and forcibly converted a few inhabitants in the region in 1788 and drafted them into the Asadulai corps. p. 40, [31].  Tipu then marched on Kurmanadu from Ahmadnagar and forcibly converted all the Nairs there.  He seized the fort of Agidi Cotta, also Cherkul, Cadtanad and other places and gave orders to forcibly convert all the Nairs there. p. 40, [31].

The fate of other Hindu princes was no better than that of the Raja of Chirakal, though many did escape to Travancore.  PCN Raja writes, “All the members of one branch of Parappanad Royal Family were forcibly converted to Muhammadan faith except for one or two who escaped from the clutches of Tipu Sultan’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.’’  ch.02, [4]

The fate of the Hindu princes is also confirmed by Krishna Iyer in his book, `Zamorins of Calicut’, whose words were pointed out by PCN Raja, “As per the provisions of the Treaty of Mangalore of 1784, the British had allowed Tipu Sultan to have his suzerainty over Malabar. ‘In consequence, the Hindus of Malabar had to suffer the most severe enormities the world had ever known in history,’ observes K.V. Krishna Iyer, in his famous book, Zamorins of Calicut, based on historical records available from the royal house of Zamorins in Calicut. “When the second-in-line of Zamorins, Eralppad, refused to cooperate with Tipu Sultan in his military operations against Travancore because of Tipu’s crude methods of forcible circumcision and conversion of Hindus to Islam, the enraged Tipu Sultan took a solemn oath to circumcise and convert the Zamorin and his chieftains and Hindu soldiers to Islamic faith,” he adds.” ch.02,[4]

William Logan also confirms the fate of the Malabar princes in his Malabar Manual, “It was not only against the Brahmins who were thus put in a state of terror of forcible circumcision and conversion; but against all sections of Hindus. In August, 1788, a Raja of the Kshatriya family of Parappanad and also Trichera Thiruppad, a chieftain of Nilamboor, and many other Hindu nobles who had been carried away earlier to Coimbatore by Tipu Sultan, were forcibly circumcised and forced to eat beef. Nairs in desperation, under the circumstances, rose up against their Muslim oppressors under Tipu’s command in South Malabar and the Hindus of Coorg in the North also joined them.” (p. 507, [6]). ch.04, [4]

Innes also remarks the fate of the Malabar princes, writing, “The Parappanad family claim to be Kshatriyas by caste, and have often supplied consorts to the rulers of Travancore. They were roughly handled by Tipu, and many of them were forcibly converted to Islam; and since that time they have lived for the most part in Travancore.’’ p. 413, [11].

Tipu himself wrote several letters boasting his cruelty towards and forcible conversion of the Hindus to his commanders, or directing them to specific zealotry.  We have collected several letters here.

Letter dated March 22, 1788, to Abdul Kadir: “Over 12,000 Hindus were ‘honoured’ with Islam. There were many Namboodiris (Brahmins) among them. This achievement should be widely publicised among the Hindus. There the local Hindus should be brought before you and then converted to Islam. No Namboodiri (Brahmin) should be spared. Also they should be confined there till the dress materials sent for them, reach you.” [29]

Tipu also wrote a letter dated December 14, 1788, to his Army Chief in Calicut: ``I am sending two of my followers with Mir Hussain Ali. With their assistance, you should capture and kill all Hindus. Those below 20 may be kept in prison and 5,000 from the rest should be killed by hanging from the tree-tops. These are my orders.’’ ch.04, [4], [29].  This letter is confirmed by Ramachandra Rao Punganuri too, who writes that, Tipu, in a letter in December 1788 to the commander in Malabar states, “You are to slay the infidels.  Such of the males [at Calicut] as may be under twenty years of age may be made prisoners.  Of the remaining unbelievers, five thousand may be suspended to trees.’’ p. 41, [31]

In another letter dated December 21, 1788, Tipu wrote to Sheik Kutub: “242 Nairs are being sent as prisoners. Categorise them according to their social and family status. After honouring them with Islam, sufficient dress materials may be given to the men and their women.’’ Ch. 04, [4], [29]

The letter of January 19, 1790, sent to Budruz Zuman Khan by Tipu himself, says: “Don’t you know I have achieved a great victory recently in Malabar and over four lakh Hindus were converted to Islam? I am determined to march against that cursed ‘Raman Nair’ very soon (reference is to Rama Varma Raja of Travancore State who was popularly known as Dharma Raja). Since I am overjoyed at the prospect of converting him and his subjects to Islam, I have happily abandoned the idea of going back to Srirangapatanam now’’. ch.03, [4], ch.04, [4], [29]

In a letter dated 8th Eezidy (February 13, 1790) addressed to Budruz Zuman Khan, Tipu writes: “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…’’ ch.02, [4], ch.03, [4], p. 257, [5]

An original order sent to various army contingents by Tipu was found among the records from Palghat Fort, after its capture by the English Company in 1790. “It directed (all military detachments) that every being in the district should be honoured with Islam, that they should be traced to their hiding places, and that all means, truth or falsehood, fraud or force, should be employed to effect their universal conversion to Islam.’’ p.510, [6], ch.04, [4].  The above order issued to the army is confirmed by Innes, who writes, “Early in 1789 Tipu himself descended the Tamarasseri ghat to enforce his proclamation at the point of the sword. General orders were issued to his army of more than twenty thousand men that ‘every being in the district without distinction should be honoured with Islam, that the houses of such as fled to avoid that honour should be burned, that they should be traced to their lurking places, and that all means of truth and falsehood, force or fraud should be employed to effect their universal conversion’.” p. 73, [11]

The last order is also confirmed by Wilks, who details the circumstances in which Tipu’s order was found.  He has recorded, “Six divisions, consisting of two brigades each, were left in Malabar, with the distinct establishments of officers, spiritual, civil and military, charged with the threefold duty of surveying the lands, numbering the productive trees, and seizing and instructing the remaining Nairs [in Islam]. … the joint duties of the spiritual and  military officers were performed with horrible precision. [In a footnote is added] Palgaut was captured by the English in the ensuing year, and an officer of the staff, in searching the records of the place, for military intelligence, found one of the orders for conversion, under the sultan’s seal and signature, which was at the time deemed a curiosity of the highest order.  It directed, `that every being in the district, without distinction, should be honoured with Islam, that the houses of such as fled to avoid that honour should be burned, that they should be traced to their lurking places, and that all means of truth and falsehood, fraud and force should be employed to effect their universal conversion.’’ p. 24, [15].  KM Panikkar also notes that when the British captured Palakkad, they found in the fort an order from Tipu which commanded the Killedar that he ``by every exertion of judgement and policy, whether by force or by consent, make a Mussulman of every infidel in the district.’’ p. 394, [32].

This is confirmed by KM Panikkar as well, who notes that the Nayars of Cootipur were forced to convert to Islam after their fort fell. p. 361, [32]

Ramachandra Rao Punganuri notes that Tipu, after his settlement with the Bibi of Chirakkal, ordered all the remaining Nairs to be `circumcised’ near Telicheri (Thalassery) and marched past Kozhikode to Coimbatore. p. 40, [31].  Ramachandra Rao Punganuri also lists another letter in March 1789 that “directs that the fort of Kumbari shall be assaulted and all the men made prisoners, who are to be fed on rice and beef and then circumcised.’’ p. 41, [31]

One of the most notable conversions was the conversion of the Nairs at Kuttipuram.  This has been confirmed by multiple sources.  Detailing the horror of the Nairs of Malabar and their eventual fate, Bowring narrates, “Marching through Coorg with a large army, he sent detachments about the country to hunt down the rebellious Nairs, while he himself proceeded to Kutipuram.  Here, two thousand of their race defended themselves and their families with resolution, but were soon obliged to surrender.  This gave an opportunity to Tipu to show his apostolic zeal.  Orders were issued that the whole of these unfortunates should be offered `becoming good Musalmans’, or, the alternative of in case of non-compliance, that they should be banished to Seringapatam.  They reluctantly acquiesced in the former alternative, knowing well what the deportation meant. The next day, accordingly, all the males were circumcised, while both sexes were compelled to eat beef, as a proof of their conversion.   In this raid, the Mysore sovereign is said to have carried off large treasures plundered from the temples in Malabar.” pp. 136-137, [3]

This is confirmed by both Wilks and Hayavadana Rao, who write, “While the detached divisions were conducted with various success, his [Tipu’s] own took the direction of Gootipoor [Kuttipuram], where about two thousand Nairs with their families occupied an old fortified position, which they defended for some days, but finding it untenable against the superior numbers and means by which they were invested, they were ultimately compelled to surrender at discretion.  The alternative was signified to them of a voluntary profession of the Mahommedan faith, or a forcible conversion, with deportation from their native land.  The unhappy captives gave a forced assent, and on the next day the rite of circumcision was performed on all the males, every individual of both sexes being compelled to close the ceremony by eating beef.  This achievement being completed, it was held out as an example to the other detachments of the army, and it is certain that the great numbers of Nairs themselves incessantly hunted out of their places of concealment, at length came forth to be circumcised, as the only mode which remained to them of avoiding a more cruel fate.’’ pp. 14-15, [15], pp. 720-721, [24].  The forcible conversion of the Nairs of Kuttipuram has also been confirmed by Ramachandra Rao Punganuri, p. 40, [31].  Innes also corroborates the fate of the Nairs of Malabar, “The Kadattanad Raja’s fortified palace at Kuttippuram was surrounded, and two thousand Nayars forced to surrender after a resistance of several days were circumcised and regaled with beef.” p. 73, [11]

Not only were the ordinary Nairs forced to convert to Islam, but their chiefs were compelled as well.  This is confirmed by Innes, who writes, “A Raja of the Parapanad family and ‘Trichera Terupa, a principal Nayar of Nelamboor’ were among the first of the many thus honoured [with Islam] at Coimbatore.’’ pp.72-73, [11]

Such was the terror of Tipu’s forcible conversions that the British had trouble finding messengers to send to Tipu, even for necessary negotiations.  This is narrated in the Malabar Manual of Logan, “The immediate object of Tipu’s early military operation was to subjugate and retake the principalities which had revolted against the Mysore suzerainty immediately after the departure of Hyder Ali Khan from Malabar. So far, the Brahmins who were by nature quiet and honest, were usually and customarily sent as messengers to high places. But because of Tipu’s orders to “seize, circumcise and convert the Brahmins to Islam”, they started refusing to carry his messages to Malabar. They refused to oblige even the British who had extended and promised full protection to them. It had been confirmed from Calicut that 200 Brahmins had been “seized, confined, made Muslims and forced to eat beef and do other things contrary to their customs” (p. 507, [6]). ch.04, [4]

James Innes also refers to the Brahman refusal to take messages from the British to Tipu, since their persons as ambassadors were no longer inviolate.  Innes writes, “On July 17th a Brahman refused to take a message from Tellicherry-to Anjengo, pleading that the sanctity, which had hitherto allowed Brahmans to pass in safety from one end of Malabar to the other, was no longer a protection; and a week later news arrived from Calicut that ‘two hundred had been seized and confined, made Musalmen, and forced to eat beef.’ Tipu had entered on the campaign of proselytism and social reform, which he himself sketched in a proclamation to the people of Malabar. p.72, [11]

The attacks on the Hindus and their forcible conversion to Islam, or submission is also decreed by the Koran, which states, ``So when the sacred months have passed away, then slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them captives and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush, then if they repent and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate, leave their way free to them; surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.’’ 9:5, [36]

Section A3: Tipu’s brutalities in the Malabar

We narrated Tipu’s saga of forcible conversions.  Here, we shall narrate his barbarity.  During the Malabar revolt of 1788-1789, Tipu ruthlessly crushed the revolt and also let loose the Moplahs (Keralite Muslims who often acted as irregular allies of Tipu in the Malabar region) on the hapless populace.  We narrate, in the words of the German missionary, Guntest, the cruelties of Tipu in Malabar, “Accompanied by an army of 60,000, Tipu Sultan came to Kozhikode in 1788 and razed it to the ground. It is not possible even to describe the brutalities committed by that Islamic barbarian from Mysore.” ch.02, [4], [15]


According to the official report of Col. Fullarton of the British forces stationed in Mangalore, worst type of brutalities on Brahmins were committed by Tipu Sultan in 1783 during his siege of Palghat Fort, which was being defended by the Zamorin and his Hindu soldiers. “Tipu’s soldiers daily exposed the heads of many innocent Brahmins within sight from the fort for Zamorin and his Hindu followers to see. It is asserted that the Zamorin rather than witness such enormities and to avoid further killing of innocent Brahmins, chose to abandon the Palghat Fort’’ p. 500, [6]. ch.04, [4]

In another letter, despatched to Arshad Beg Khan at Calicut respecting certain highway robbers, he says: “Such of the authors of this rebellion and flagrant conduct as have been already killed, are killed. But why should the remainder of them, on being made prisoners, be put to death?  Their proper punishment is this: Let the dogs, both black and white, be regularly despatched to Seringapatam.” p. 219, [3]

Another chieftain, Korangoth Nair, who had resisted Tipu, was finally captured with the help of the French and hanged.” ch.04, [4]

Padmanabha Menon, in his History of Cochin narrates Tipu’s brutality in a graphic way.  He states,

“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 Sultan 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 children tied to the necks of their mothers. That barbarian Tipu Sultan tied the naked Christians and Hindus to the legs of elephants and made the elephants move about till the bodies of the helpless victims were tom to pieces. Temples and Churches were ordered to be burnt, desecrated and destroyed. Christian and Hindu women were forced to marry Muhammadans and similarly their men were forced to marry Muhammadan women. Those Christians who refused to be ‘honoured’ with Islam, were ordered to be killed by hanging then and there. The above version of the atrocities was obtained from the sorrowful narration by the victims who escaped from Tipu’s army and reached Varapuzha (near Alwaye) which is the centre of Carmichael Christian Mission. I myself helped many victims to cross the Varapuzha river by boats” p. 573, [34].

Tipu’s brutality in the lands of the Raja of Cochin are also clearly recorded.  The destruction of the region of Thrissur has been recorded again by Fra. Bartolomeo, “Farther towards the north, and at the distance of about ten leagues from Cranganor lies Triciur, a town and district: belonging to the Brahmans. They have here a celebrated academy, public and private schools; also an university, where young persons are instructed in their sciences, and the principles of their religion. This place was also destroyed by Tippoo Sultan; but rebuilt by the Brahmans, after Tippoo’s defeat.” p. 138, [8]  This is confirmed by KM Panikkar who points out that when the Raja of Cochin, Raja Rama Varma, refused to aid Tipu in claiming the Travancore forts of Ayacottah and Cranganore, his country was subjected to systematic pillage by Tipu. p. 400, [32].  Many important temples were also plundered.

In addition, Ramachandra Rao Punganuri notes that Tipu took 400-500 people captive in Nidamacota, after the fortress fell, and slew them. p. 41, [31]

The famous Portuguese traveller, Fra. Bartolomeo, affirms Bowring’s claims in his travelogue, `Voyage to the East Indies’ about Tipu’s brutal treatment of the Hindus and the Christians, “Hayder Aly’s son, Tippoo Sultan Bahader, was at length so incensed against the inhabitants of Calicut and the neighbouring district, because they assisted, by every possible means, their former sovereign, that he resolved to punish them; and for that purpose took the field in person.  He was preceded by 30,000 barbarians, butchered every person who came in their way; and by his heavy cannon under the command of general Lally, at the head of a regiment of artillery.  Then followed Tippoo Sultan himself, riding on an elephant; and behind him marched another corps, consisting of 30,000 men also. The manner in which he behaved to the inhabitants of Calicut was horrid.  A great part of them, both male and female were hung.  He first tied up the mothers, and then suspended the children from their necks.  The cruel tyrant caused several Christians and Heathens to be brought out naked, and made fast, to the feet of his elephants, which were then obliged to drag them about till their limbs fell in pieces from their bodies. At the same time he ordered all the churches and temples to be burned and pulled down or destroyed in some other manner.  Christian and Pagan women were compelled to marry Mahometans; and Mahometan women were compelled to marry Heathens and Christians. The Pagans were deprived of the token of their nobility, which is a lock of hair called Cudumi; and every Christian who appeared in the streets, must either submit to be circumcised, or be hanged on the spot.  This happened in the year 1789, at which time I resided at Verapole.  I had then an opportunity of conversing with several Christians and Pagans, who had escaped from the fury of this merciless tyrant; and I assisted these fugitives to procure a boat to enable them to cross the river which runs past that city.” pp. 141-142, [8]

Indeed, Tipu being unsparing of even women and children during his attack on the Malabar has a precedent in the early Muslims being unsparing of the women and children of the infidels that attacked.  It is narrated in the Sahih Muslim that ``It is reported on the authority of Sa’b b. Jaththama that the Prophet of Allah (may peace be upon him), when asked about the women and children of the polytheists being killed during the night raid, said: They are from them.’’ Book 19, Number 4321, [42].

Nandgopal Menon points out the words of Raman Menon, the biographer of the King of Cochin during the time of Tipu, saying, “The Padayottam military occupation period won’t be forgotten by the Malayalis for generations. It was this invasion, between Malayalam era 957 to 967 (1782 to 1792) that turned Malabar upside down,” says P. Raman Menon, biographer of Shaktan Tampuran, the King of Cochin during Tipu’s invasion. He adds: “There was hardly any cowshed left in Malayalam lands where the Mysore Tiger did not enter.” The reference is to the mass cow-slaughter carried out by Tipu’s army on his orders.” ch.03, [4]

The famous traveller, Fra. Bartolomeo, also confirms the brutality of Tipu sultan, “We know from various accounts, published by the English and the missionaries, with what cruelty the followers of the Brahman religion were treated by the inhuman Tippoo Sultan, and in what manner he endeavoured by the rack and famine to make them, them embrace the Mahometan faith.” footnote, pp. 141-142, [8]

James Rice Innes confirms the persecutions of Tipu in Malabar, writing, “His [Tipu’s] religious persecutions had engendered a fierce and abiding hatred between Hindu and Muhammadan” p. 77, [11]

Not only were the common folk of Malabar treated brutally, even their chieftains were treated ruthlessly.  Krishna Iyer, the author of `Zamorins of Calicut’ also records Tipu’s brutality towards the princes of Malabar.  He narrates, “He [Tipu] resolved to wipe out the princes, the Nayars and the Namputiris, who were capable of such treachery [refusal to help in conquest of Travancore], by their conversion to Islam.  He sent the converted Rajah of Parappanad, and `Tichera Tiroopar’ (the Tirumalpad of Nilambur) to Malabar to use their influence over the Nayars for the purpose.’’ p. 245, [20].  Krishna Iyer further points out that, “In November [1788], Tippu’s officers laid violent hands upon the Karanavappad of Manjeri.’’ p. 246, [20]

Padmanabha Menon also confirms Tipu’s atrocities on the Princes of Malabar, narrating, “Early in 1788, Tippu made one more descent into Malabar, and the usual excesses followed in his train.  The Sultan broke faith with all Malabar princes and drove them to desperation by his barbarities.’’ p. 170, [22]

Nor were the Christians spared, as Innes points out, “Tipu was less complaisant [than Haidar], and in 1788 the Vicar with most of his flock and the church plate took refuge in Tellicherry. p. 388, [11].

Hamilton-Buchanan points out the disposition of Tipu’s allies, the Moplahs, towards the Hindus,“… but those who in the interior parts of Malabar have become farmers, having been encouraged by Tippoo in a most licentious attack on the lives, persons, and property of the Hindus, are fierce, blood-thirsty, bigoted ruffians.’’ P. 422, [25].  This view of Tipu’s invasion has been confirmed by the well-known Muslim historian, P.S. Syed Muhammed, author of Kerala Muslim Charitram (History of Kerala Muslims), who has this to say about these invasions: “What happened to Kerala because of Tipu’s invasion, reminds one of the invasion of Chengez Khan and Timur in Indian history.” ch.03, [4]

Again, the condoning of, indeed incitement to, violence against the infidels comes directly from the Koran, which states, ``When your Lord revealed to the angels: I am with you, therefore make firm those who believe. I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them.’’ 8:12, [36] and “O Prophet! strive hard against the unbelievers and the hypocrites and be unyielding to them; and their abode is hell, and evil is the destination.’’  9:73, [36] Further, the history of Islam relates a destruction of the Banu Qurayza.  The Encyclopaedia of Islam states that 600 men of the Banu Qurayza were beheaded after the armies of Muhammad won over them. p. 85, [41].  This is also confirmed by [39], which states, “After a raid, the Prophet of Islam captured all tribe members of Banu Qurayza. ‘Then they surrendered, and the apostle confined them in Medina in the quarter of d. al-Harith, a woman of B. al-Najjar. Then the apostle went out to the market of Medina (which is still its market today) and dug trenches in it. Then he sent for them and struck off their heads in those trenches as they were brought out to him in batches. Among them was the enemy of Allah Huyayy b. Akhtab and Ka’b b. Asad their chief. There were 600 or 700 in all, though some put the figure as high as 800 or 900. As they were being taken out in batches to the apostle they asked Ka’b what he thought would be done with them. He replied, `Will you never understand? Don’t you see that the summoner never stops and those who are taken away do not return? By Allah it is death!’ This went on until the apostle made an end of them.’’’’ p. 464, [39]

Sheik Ali claims that the Nairs of Malabar were in league with the British and therefore, Tipu crushed them as a political manoeuvre.  Apart from pointing out that the British and Tipu were at peace between 1784 and 1790 (most of the atrocities in Malabar were perpetrated between 1788 and 1790), it is perhaps instructive to show the degree of disaffection between the British and the Malabar princes.  Not only were they not in league with each other, they were actually at odds with each other.  Indeed, with unconscious irony, the Treaty of Mangalore mentioned the Hindu rulers and Zamindars of Malabar as `friends of Tipu’ p. 356, [32].  KP Padmanabha Menon writes, “While matters were so [in 1788, between the Chirackal Raja and the English, who were nearly at war with each other], Tippu’s marauders came upon the country like an avalanche, crushing everything before them.  Malabar was offered the honour of Islam.  Thousands upon thousands were forcibly converted and compelled to eat beef, the highest sin a Hindu can commit.’’p.227, [22]

Perhaps it is ideal to summarise the whole bigotry of Tipu Sultan, using the words of the greatest historian of Kerala, KP Padmanabha Menon, who records, “Tippu’s persecution of the people made matters worse.  His fanatic endeavours to convert the people to Islamism were warmly supported by the Mopla inhabitants of Malabar, whom he used as his unscrupulous instruments.  The whole country, from one end to the other, was devastated by fanatic Mussalman hordes.  The sword or the Koran was the alternative offered.  Everywhere the Hindus were persecuted, and robbed of their riches, their women, and their children.  Those who could elude the vigil of the Mysoreans hid themselves in the forests.’’ pp. 266-267, [21].

This state of affairs is also affirmed by the traveller, Hamilton-Buchanan, who states, “But still greater calamities were reserved for the unfortunate inhabitants of this country in the reign of the Sultan. During the govermnent of his father, the Hindus continued unmolested in the exercise of their religion: the customs and observances of which, in many very essential points, supply the place of laws. To them it was owing, that some degree of order had been preserved in society during the changes that had taken place. Tippoo, on the contrary, early undertook to render Islamism the sole religion of Malabar. In this cruel and impolitic undertaking he was warmly seconded by the Moplays, men possessed of a strong zeal, and of a large share of that spirit of violence and depredation which appears to have invariably been an ingredient in the character of the professors of their religion, in every part of the world where it has spread. All the confidence of the Sultan was bestowed on Moplays, and in every place they became the officers and instruments of government. The Hindus were everywhere persecuted, and plundered of their riches, of their women, and of their children. All such as could flee to other countries did so: those who could not escape took refuge in the forests, from whence they waged a constant predatory war against their oppressors. To trace the progress of these evils would carry me too far. I mention them only for the purpose of showing, how the ancient government of this country was at last completely destroyed, and anarchy was introduced. The Moplays never had any laws, nor any authority, except in the small district of Cannanore, even over their own sect; but were entirely subject to tlie Hindu chiefs, in whose dominions they resided. Tippoo’s code was never known beyond the limits of Calicut.’’ pp. 549-551, [25].

Section A3.2: Raja of Chirakkal and other Princes of Malabar

One of the principal and most respected of the Nair chieftains was the Raja of Chirakal.  He was specifically targeted by Tipu as has been recorded by several historians.  Indeed, Tipu, after procuring his murder (he was either killed by Tipu’s soldiers, or killed himself), takes fiendish delight in recording the murder and the desecration of his corpse.  This respected Nair chieftain had offered to ransom the temples of Malabar for four lakh rupees and more gold plate, and earned Tipu’s anger, who refused his request.  Whether this was the reason for his murder, or whether there were others too, is a matter of speculation, as there is no specific detail on this point.  Nevertheless, Tipu pursued the unfortunate chieftain after lulling him into security and then had him murdered and his corpse, desecrated.  Of the incident, Bowring writes, `One of the principal victims of Tipu’s revenge was the Raja of Chirakkal of ancient descent, who, having  been falsely accused of conspiring, was attacked and killed, and body hung up after his death.” pp. 136-137, [3]

The fate of the Raja of Chirakal is confirmed by Sankunni Menon too, who wrote, “he [Chirakal Raja] died either by his own hand, or by that of a friendly Nair, whom he is said to have required to perform this last mournful office for him.” p. 243, [1]

PCN Raja also testifies to the fate of the Raja of Chirakal (Kolathiri Raja, as he was properly called), “In the end, when the Kolathiri Raja surrendered and paid tribute, Tipu Sultan got him treacherously killed without any specific reason, 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 Islamic contempt for Hindu Rajas.’’ ch. 02, [4]

Hamilton-Buchanan also confirms the fate of the Raja of Chirakal, writing, “The last of these [Chirackal Rajas] was Rama Varma; who being afraid that Tippoo, then at Cotayangady near Tellichery, would compel him to become a Mussulman, retired to Pychi, and procured a friendly Nair to shoot him dead. Although Rama Varma would not submit to exile, yet, before he had determined on a voluntary death, he had secured a retreat for his sister with her two sons, the only remaining males of the family of Cherical. On the day in which he caused himself to be shot, she embarked at Dharma-pattanna, and went to Travancore, the Raja of which country was of the same family.’’ pp. 557-558, [25]

Wilks also gives full details about the fate of the Raja of Chirakkal, “The Nair Raja of Cherucul had been induced, by the most sacred promises, to pay his personal respects to the Sultaun, and was, for several days, treated with considerable distinction, and dismissed with costly presents to his little principality.  Immediately after his departure, real or pretended information was received, of his being engaged in a secret conspiracy to revenge the cruel indignities of his countrymen; and Tippoo detached two brigades to effect his destruction or ascertain to obedience, by directing him instantly to return to camp.  His attendants, justly alarmed at these appearances, prepared for defence, and before any explanation could be given, a skirmish ensued in which the Raja and some of his attendants were killed, and a few prisoners secured; and Tippoo, considering the accusation to be established, ordered the most base and unmanly indignities to be offered to the corpse, and that the dead and the living should afterwards be hanged on the same tree.  These indignities recounted by the Sultaun himself, although free from the usual obscenity, are too brutal for translation; and he relates, among the incidents pertaining to the Raja, that he had, during their personal intercourse, offered 400,000 rupees and the plates of gold with which a particular temple was roofed, on condition of sparing the temple itself; to which proposition the Sultaun is made to reply that he would not spare it for all the treasures of the earth and the sea.  He states the destruction in the course of the holy war of eight thousand idol temples, many of them roofed with gold, silver or copper, and all containing treasures buried at the feet of the idol, the whole of which was royal plunder; but when crimes are deemed to be virtues, we may infer that their amount is exaggerated.’’ pp. 22-23, [15].

Lewis Rice also details the sufferings of the Nairs of Malabar and confirms the fate of the Raja of Chirakal, “A rebellion now occurred in Coorg, and Malabar, and the Sultan, passing through Coorg to quiet it, entered Malabar.  Large parties of the Nairs were surrounded and offered the choice of death or circumcision.  The Nair Raja of Cherakal, who had voluntarily submitted, was received and dismissed with distinction, but immediately after, seized and hanged, his body being treated with every insult. … He divided the country of Malabar into districts, each of which had three officers, charged respectively with the duties of collecting the revenue, numbering the productive trees and seizing and giving religious instruction to the Nairs.” p.401, [7]

The fate of the Raja of Chirakkal is also confirmed by KM Panikkar, who has stated that when the Chirakkal raja departed the camp, Tipu announced that he had been implicated in a conspiracy against Tipu, and ordered a party to attack him.  The Raja was killed in the fight, his corpse was mutilated and exposed to public view and Tipu gloated over the atrocity in his memoirs. p. 361, [32]

William Logan, in his Malabar Manual, also writes of the fate of the unfortunate Raja of Chirakkal and the desecration of his body by Tipu.  “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” (p. 512, [6]).

Finally, the fate of the Raja of Chirakkal is also detailed by Ramachandra Rao Punganuri, who gives a graphic description of the event.  He writes, “This Raja had by some means heard that Tippoo intended to circumcise him; whereupon, he fled and joined the rebellious Nairs; he had his dwelling in a forest of Palas trees.  Tippoo sent two battalions of infantry, who came to the spot and captured him.  The Raja, therefore, shot himself and died.  Yet they still would not let him off so easily.  They brought the Raja’s corpse with them and smote it with slippers and hanged it up, hanging four or five of the Nairs who were his confederates.  There were two or three Brahmins who were drafted as Asadulai.’’ p. 40, [31]


[1] “History of Travancore”, Sankunni Menon, 1879.

[2] “An Account of the Travels of Fra Bartolomeo, in Letters from Vissicher”, 1862

[3] Lewin Bowring, “Haidar Ali and Tipu Sultan and the struggle with the Mussalman powers of the South”

[4] “Tipu Sultan: Hero or Tyrant”, Collection of Articles, Voice of Dharma Publications http://voiceofdharma.org/books/tipu/

[5] William Kirkpatrick, “Selected Letters of Tipu Sultan”, 1811

[6] William Logan, “Malabar Manual”

[7] Lewis Rice, “Mysore Gazette, Part I”, 1897

[8] Fra Bartolomeo, “A Voyage to the East Indies 1776-1788”

[9] Richter, “Coorg Gazetteer”

[10] C Gopalan Nair, “Wynad – Its Peoples”

[11] James Innes, “Malabar and Anjengo”

[12] Lewis Rice, “Mysore Gazette, Part II”

[13] – “Tyrant Diaries: An account of Tipu provided by Ripaud’’, Francois Gautier http://www.outlookindia.com/article/the-tyrant-diaries/284803

[14] – Inscription on the walls of the Ambalapuzha temple.

[15] – “Historical Sketches’’, Vol. 3, Wilks.

[16] – “Historical Sketches’’, Vol. 2, Wilks.

[17] – “Do Not Take Up Tipu Sultan Role – Hindu Outfit tells Rajini’’, The Hindu, 12/09/2015 http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/do-not-take-up-tipu-sultan-role-hindu-outfit-tells-rajini/article7643805.ece

[18] Mohibbul Hassan, “History of Tipu Sultan’’

[19] [Temple Chronicles of Srirangam], SriVaishnava Press

[20] Krishna Ayyar, “The Zamorins of Calicut’’.

[21] KP Padmanabha Menon, “History of Kerala’’, Vol. 1

[22] KP Padmanabha Menon, “History of Kerala’’, Vol. 2

[23] Hayavadana Rao, “Mysore Gazetteer – Historical’’, Vol. 2

[24] Hayavadana Rao, “History of Mysore’’, Vol. 3

[25] Patrick Hamilton-Buchanan, “An Account of Travels through Mysore, Canara and Malabar’’, Vol. 2.

[26] Patrick Hamilton-Buchanan, “An Account of Travels through Mysore, Canara and Malabar’’, Vol. 3.

[27] Sitaram Goel, “Hindu Temples of India – What happened to them’’, Vol. 1

[28] Sitaram Goel, “Hindu Temples of India – What happened to them’’, Vol. 2, ch. 7.

[29] Mir Ali Kirmani (translated by Col. Miles) “Nishan i Hyduri’’.

[30] B Sheik Ali, “Tipu Sultan’’

[31] Ramachandra Rao Punaganuri, “Memoirs of Hyder and Tippoo: rulers of Seringapatam’’

[32] KM Panikkar, “History of Kerala’’

[33] Shanmukh, Saswati Sarkar, and Dikgaj, “Tipu Jayanthi – a Celebration of Bigotry and Barbarities in Karnataka’’,

[34] KP Padmanabha Menon, “History of Cochin’’

[35] Shanmukh, Saswati Sarkar, and Dikgaj, “Ban on Durga Puja: An assault on the core of Hindu civilisation [Part II]’’, http://www.dailyo.in/politics/durga-puja-ban-west-bengal-mamata-banerjee-hindus-birbhum-bina-das-sri-aurobindo-shakti-islam-prophet-mohammad-mecca-part2/story/1/7500.html

[36] Koran http://quod.lib.umich.edu/cgi/k/koran/koran-idx?type=simple&q1=9%3A5&size=First+100

[37] Tabaqat-i-Ibn Sa’d, translated into Urdu by Alama Abdullah al-Ahmadi, 2 Volumes, Karachi, n.d.

[38] First Encyclopedia of Islam, 1931-1936, 9 Volumes, Leiden Reprint

[39]  Ibn Ishaq, Sirat Rasul Allah (The Life of Muhammad, translated by A Guillaume)

[40] Tarikh-i-Tabari, translated into Urdu by Sayyid Muhammad Ibrahim, Vol. I: Sirat-un-Nabi, Karachi, n.d.

[41] Encyclopaedia of Islam, https://books.google.co.in/books?id=bYtmAgAAQBAJ&pg=PA85&lpg=PA85&dq=banu+qaynuqa+encyclopedia+of+islam&source=bl&ots=yu8cx_1Oj4&sig=Gfth40Y6t7idLIzpO2sTAcwC-XI&hl=en&sa=X&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=banu%20qaynuqa%20encyclopedia%20of%20islam&f=false

[42] Collection of Hadiths, Sahih Muslim, http://hadithcollection.com/sahihmuslim/136-Sahih%20Muslim%20Book%2008.%20Marriage/11240-sahih-muslim-book-008-hadith-number-3432.html