When the sun set on Srirangapatana

Updated - May 04, 2017 05:36 pm IST

Published - May 04, 2017 07:49 am IST - MYSURU

Today is the death anniversary of Tipu Sultan.

Today is the death anniversary of Tipu Sultan.

The 4th Anglo-Mysore War (1798–1799) that culminated in the death of Tipu Sultan on May 4, 1799, saw the sun set on Srirangapatana as the seat of capital of the erstwhile Mysore Kingdom and marked the transfer of capital to the present Mysuru.

The war was followed by widespread massacre and plunder of Srirangapatana, to contain which the British had to use force and execute its own army personnel.

Citing various sources, M. Shama Rao, author of Modern Mysore , published in 1936, points to the plunder that followed the war and the riches that was amassed by the British forces.

Col. Arthur Wellesley, in a letter to his brother Lord Mornington, states that there was scarcely a house in the town left unplundered and in camp bazaars, jewels of greatest value, bars of gold, etc were offered for sale by soldiers, as per the works of Shama Rao. Án army doctor was able to purchase from a soldier two bracelets set with diamonds and one was sold to a Hyderabad jeweller for 30,000 pound sterling while the price for another could not be fixed.

Under the notion that all captured property belonged to the army, Gen. Harris, who led the final assault, appointed a prize committee and Col. Wellesley’s letter to his brother notes that the ‘’prize agents behaved as veritable sharks who went so far as to sell the ornamental doors of the palace and Tipu’s clothing’’.

A portion of Tipu’s throne, which was already broken up and sold in separate pieces, was purchased by army officer for 25,000 pound sterlings. The prize committee discovered astonishing mass of wealth comprising gold bars, silver plates besides articles of great price and rarity.

‘The jewels were found kept in large dark rooms strongly secured and were deposited in boxes closed under the seal of Tipu Sultan or Haider Ali’’, says the author. Other valuable included silver plates inlaid with pearls and gold, ivory articles of exquisite workmanship, bales of the finest muslin, long clothes, silk and shawls.

Some of the rare publications throwing light on a bygone era have been digitised and uploaded in PDF format by the Gazetteer Department, Government of Karnataka. http://gazetteer.kar.nic.in/index.html.

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