Sultan Fateh Ali Tipu also known as the Tiger of Mysore was the ruler of the Indian Kingdom of Mysore. The great Sultan was defeated by the combined forces of the British East India Company and the Nizam of Hyderabad. Tipu died defending his capital Srirangapattana on May 4, 1799. On May 4, 2009 exactly 210 years after the brave king’s death, researchers have stumbled upon a priceless piece of history- the kurta Tipu Sultan wore the day he died fighting the British, his rosary beads and a Quran with his handwriting.
The silk kurta, with the warrior king’s blood stains, lay in a room full of old papers and discarded furniture at the palace in Srirangapattana. A historian said that Tipu’s kurta would at least fetch Rs.30 crore if it ever got to the auction market because it is a rare find. “This is one of most exciting finds when it comes to Tipu memorabilia,” said a source. Some workers accompanied by history scholars, were routinely sweeping through a room in the palace when they found the kurta lying in a corner. The 210- year old dress, left in the dust for over two centuries, is pale ivory. It is possible the original color has faded away. “It has become brittle, and we’ll need expert help to preserve it,” said Gowda a scholar researching Tipu’s life. Researchers have also come across the pyjamas and string he wore on the fateful day. Below is a British artist’s impression of how Tipu was killed in 1799.
The war costume is now with the Tipu Sultan Wakf Board, Srirangapattana. The board managed by the state government, plans for public display from May 24. Aziz Ulla Baig, chairman of the Wakf Board claimed, “We will need proper security first.” The Indian Government however is hesitating to make a formal announcement because it feels the kurta needs better security. And guess what the better security is?
The Rs.40 crore valuable treasure is being guarded by a pathetic Rs.100 lock and an unarmed guard. The guard stands at the door of the domed room at Srirangapattana that houses the treasure. At night, the place is vulnerable to burglars, a guide said. “We have one guard during the day and one at night,” said Kumar, a guide at Gumbaz. Both are unarmed. “We have preserved all items in the treasury,” said Ayub Khan, a staffer managing the Gumbaz. “They are secure.” The building where the memorabilia is kept also houses the bodies of Tipu Sultan, his father Hyder Ali and mother Fatima Begum. Tourists visiting the Gumbaz have easy access to the room, and the only comfort is that it is locked. Estate members held meetings with archaeology officials on Tuesday, but nothing much had come of it till yesterday. Experts say the responsibility of keeping the treasure safe lies with the estate and not the Archaeological Survey of India.
Before this a precious gold finial from Tipu’s throne went under the hammer, as reported by us. All we can say is that its really sad India can’t preserve such an important piece of history. Perhaps India is too rich to bother about such valuables.