A few weeks ago the painting of this battle made news as it was sold in a London auction house.
I was slated to travel to Seringapatnam and so followed the events closely. That painting was probably a preparatory painting for the huge mural on the wall of Tipu Sultan ‘s summer palace called Daria Daulat bagh in Seringapatnam / Srirangapatna.
But first a background of that battle.
Tipu Sultan was the first Hindustani ruler to recognise the threat that the British East India company posed to Hindustan. Calling him a nationalist etc would not be correct as the Hindustan of those days wasn’t the nation that India is today.
Since Hyder Ali & Tipu both understood the importance of technology in their army if they were to oppose the British, they recruited French in the army. With French help he introduced European economic, industrial and farming methods to Seringapatam, built a network of new roads, formed a State Trading Company with ships and factories located across the Middle East and established sericulture. Mysore silk is famous even today.
Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan fought four wars against the British East India company called Anglo-Mysore wars.
The Mysore faction was helped by the Martha’s and the Nizam of Hyderabad in the first two wars and the results were decisively in favour of the father-son duo.
The Battle of Pollilur was part of the second Anglo-Mysore war and the most comprehensive defeat inflicted on the British in India.
The famous battle of Pollilur took place in 1780 near Kanjipuram between Tipu Sultan and Lt Col Baillie of British EIC. Baillie and many of his officers were captured and taken to the Mysore capital at Seringapatam.
The use of superior tactics and rockets by Tipu sealed the fate of the EIC. The rockets used used by the British.by Tipu Sultan were the first rockets of metallic origin to be used in warfare and superior to the one used by the British. The use of iron tubes for holding the propellant enabled higher thrust and longer range for the missile (up to 2 km range).
The British later studied the Mysorean rockets and developed the Congreve rockets.
Tipu Sultan even wrote a military manual called Fathul Mujahidin where he describes that each Mysorean brigade was assigned 200 rocket men and there were16 to 24 brigades of infantry.
Former President of India Abdul Kalam called Tipu the “a hero of warfare rocketry” an was fascinated to see that a painting glorified him in NASA while have forgotten him.
This mural on walls of Daria Daulat bagh palace depict the battle.
The mural showed Tipu Sultan ‘s pride in his victory and was meant for public viewing as it was on an outer wall. It was a visual symbol of his imperial position