Mysorean invasion of Kerala
|Mysore invasion of Kerala|
|Part of Expansions of Kingdom of Mysore
View of Tipu Sultan's Fort, Palakkad from outside the northern wall
Ali Raja of Cannanore
Local Mappila population
| British East India Company
The Mysorean invasion of Kerala (1766–1792) was the military invasion of Malabar (northern Kerala), including the territories of the Zamorin of Calicut, by the Muslim de facto ruler of the Kingdom of Mysore Hyder Ali. After completing the occupation, Kingdom of Cochin, situated south of Malabar, was made a tributary state of Mysore. The major reason for the occupation of Malabar was the desire to have access to the Indian ocean ports. The Mysore invasion provided the English East India Company more chances to tight their grip on the ancient feudal principalities of Malabar and converting Travancore, over whom Mysore Sultans attacked after Cochin, to a mere protected ally Mysore Army under Tipu Sultan, the successor of Hyder Ali, is recorded to have forcefully converted over 400,000 Hindus to Islam during this occupation.
By 18th century, all the petty kingdoms of Kerala had been absorbed or subordinated by three big states of Travancore, Calicut (ruled by Zamorins) and Cochin. Kingdom of Mysore, nominally ruled by the Wodeyar family, rose to prominence in India after the decline of the Mughal empire. In 1761, Hyder Ali seized control of all of the reins of power in Mysore by overthrowing a powerful minister and became the "de facto" head of Mysore Kingdom. He turned his attention towards expansion which included the capture of the Kingdoms of Bednur (Ikkeri or Keladi), Sunda, Sera, and Canara. In 1766, he descended into Malabar and occupied the Kingdoms of Chirakkal (former Kolathunad), Kottayam, Kadathanad, Calicut, Valluvanad and Palghat and King of Cochin accepted his suzerainty and paid him tribute annually for from 1766 till 1790. Faruqabad, near Calicut, was the local capital of the Mysore-ruled Kerala.
Hyder Ali's attempt to defeat Travancore, a British ally state south of Cochin, failed in 1767 and second effort by his son Tipu Sultan in 1789–1790 was incomplete. Moreover, Tipu Sultan provoked British invasion in the form of Third Anglo-Mysore War by attacking the Kingdom of Travancore. Thus Travancore was only part of present day Kerala state that stood outside Mysore authority.
By the treaty of Seringapatam (1792), Tipu ceded half of his territories including Malabar to the English East India Company and their allies and paid 33 million of rupees as indemnity. By 1801, the Madras Presidency was created by Lord Wellesley, by attaching Malabar along with Carnatic territories seized form Mysore. Travancore was asked by the Company to met the entire expenditure of the Third Anglo-Mysore war on the plea that the war was undertaken in defence of Travancore. The new treaty of 1795 reduced Travancore from a friend and ally of the English East India Company to that of a protected ally. The King was forced to entertain a subsidiary force far beyond his capacity to subsidise. The Company also claimed a monopoly in the black pepper trade of the country.
- 1 Outside forces in Malabar
- 2 Occupation of Malabar
- 3 Mysore rule (1766–1773)
- 4 Cochin accepts Mysore's superiority
- 5 Malabar in Second Anglo-Mysore War
- 6 Mysore rule between the wars (1784–1789)
- 7 Tipu Sultan's attacks on Travancore (1789–1790)
- 8 British take the Malabar
- 9 End of Mysore rule
- 10 Changes in Malabar
- 11 See also
- 12 References
Outside forces in Malabar
Canara forces invaded northern Malabar in 1732 at the invitation of the Arakkal. Under the command of Gopalaji, 30000 strong Canara soldiers, easily overran prince Kunhi Ambu's (Cunhi Homo) forts in northern Kolathunad. By early 1734 the Canara soldiers captured Kudali and Dharmapatanam. By 1736, the Canara army was driven out of the whole of northern Malabar with assistance from the English East India Company. However, the Prince Regent incurred a huge debt with the Company factors at Tellichery as a result.
The Nayaks of the Kingdom of Bednur (Keladi, Ikkeri Nayak Kingdom) planned another attack on Kolathunad in 1737. Prince Kunhi Ambu agreed to sign a peace treaty with the Canara which fixed the northern border of Kolathunad on the Madayi. The English factors of Tellicherry also signed their own treaty with the Nayak of Bedanur which guaranteed the integrity of English trading concessions in Malabar in the event of future conflicts between the Canara and Kolathunad.
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 Kingdom of 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 main intention of this movement to Malabar was to capture the vast treasuries of the rulers of Malabar. Malabar Coast was famous for its foreign spice trade from ancient times. Zamorin came to a treaty with Haider Ali, in which he was demanded to pay twelve hundred thousand rupees as the war reparations. However, the Zamorin technically deceived Hyder Ali after the return of the Mysore Army from Malabar. But, for his role in these activities Hyder Ali was rewarded by Devaraja with the jaghir (regional governorship) of Bangalore.
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 1,200,000 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.
Occupation of Malabar
When news of Hyder Ali's conquest of Kingdom of Bednur reached Ali Rajah of Cannanore in 1763, he promptly requested Hyder to invade Kerala and help him deal with Zamorin of Calicut. This Muslim ruler of Cannanore, an old of rival of the neighbouring powerful Kolathiri, was an active ally of Mysore during the years of occupation. Hyder Ali agreed and in 1766 he marched into Malabar through Mangalore with a force of 12,000 infantry, 4,000 cavalry and a park of field guns. During this time he was desperate for a port which opens to the Arabian sea, as his French allies were supposed to transfer weapons, ammunition and horses against the British. Pondicherry, a French controlled port, lay in the middle of Malabar. With his modern army Hyder Ali easily defetated all the petty kingdoms on the Malabar, beginning with Kolathunad.
Ali Raja of Cannanore, a long rival of Kolathiri, seized and set fire to the palace of Kolathiri Raja. The latter escaped with his followers to the then-British settlement at Tellicherry. After the victory, Hyder Ali entered the Kingdom of Kottayam in present-day North Malabar and occupied it, with assistance from native Muslims, after some resistance by the Kottayam army. The first serious resistance encountered by Hyder Ali's army was in Kadathanad, followed by a series of atrocities against the natives.
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 tribute and his finance minister was imprisoned and tortured to reveal any hidden treasures. Zamorin who was not permitted even to do his routine. Finally Zamorin decided set fire to the gunpowder store of his palace and thus committed self-immolation.
Hyder Ali, with a large amount of money, marched south-east and moved towards Coimbatore through Palghat. Mysore appointed Raza Ali as Military Governor and Madanna (a former revenue officer) as Civil Governor of the newly acquired province of Malabar.
Mysore rule (1766–1773)
Shortly after Raza Ali, who was Hyder Ali's lieutenant in command, returned to Coimbatore, Hindus hidden in the forests rebelled against the Mysore authorities. They, supported by the English East India Company, re-occupied forts and large portions of land in the monsoon season. However, by June 1766, Hyder Ali himself returned to Malabar and imposed his troops on the rebels, killing many and deporting over 15,000 Nairs to Kanara. The Gazetteers state that only 200 of 15,000 Nairs being deported to Kanara survived. One of the most critical battles occurred at Putiyangadi in the Kingdom of Tanur (Vettathunad) where the Hindus suffered a complete defeat. The Mysore army stormed the village and re-captured it. Chaotically hundreds of rebels escaped to the forest hideouts again. After these events, an amnesty was proclaimed for the Nairs at Palghat.
Mysore's response to was harsh, and after putting down the rebellion, many rebels were executed, and thousands of others were forcibly relocated to the Mysore 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.
Eralppad, second line successor to the throne at Calicut, continued his attacks against the Mysore forces from southern Malabar. Eventually, forced by continuous instability and rebellions, Hyder Ali agreed cede many parts of Malabar to local Hindu rulers (as age old customs existed in Malabar) as tributary states under the Kingdom of Mysore. Kolathunad and Palakkad, the strategic entries to Malabar, remained under the central rule from Mysore. Years later, Kolathunad was given to Kolathiri through some negotiations.
At the start of 1767, the Mysore army unsuccessfully stormed the Kingdom of Travancore (a British ally state south of Malabar) from the north.
In 1767, the whole of Malabar again revolted Mysore'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.
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 Arakkal Kingdom, with a promised help from local kingdoms. But the British were forced to retreat in the retaliation.
Mysore army retreated from Malabar temporarily in 1768, successfully crushing the uprisings and building the strategic Palakkad Fort. The authority over Kolathunad was now given to the Arakkal Kingdom. Skirmishes between Arakkal and the Company continued, and in 1770, the Company reclaimed Randattara.
In 1773, Mysore forces under Said Saheb and Srinivasarao marched to Malabar through the Thamarassery Pass, since the Hindu rulers had broke the earlier treaties on paying tributes. So, again in the Malabar came under the direct Mysore authority.
Cochin accepts Mysore's superiority
Mysore conducted a second military movement in 1774, concentrating on the rich treasures of the Tranvancore. Also, Travancore has given refuge to the political enemies of Mysore from Malabar. Slowly Hyder Ali moved southwards with a huge army and negotiated with the Dutch. He wanted free passage to Travancore through Dutch territories, which was refused (the Dutch owed Travancore after their defeat in the Battle of Colachel). As Travancore refused to stop the construction of Nedumkotta fortification, which formed the northern defences of Travancore, rumours of a proposed invasion of Travancore started developing.
Hyder Ali asked the rulers of Cochin and of Travancore to pay tribute as vassal states. Cochin was asked to pay a total of Rs. 40 0,000 and ten elephants, while Travancore was asked to pay Rs. 1,500,000 and thirty elephants. The Cochin royals agreed to pay the amount and accepted the Mysore's superiority. Finally, Malabar and Cochin came under the Mysore rule, opening Malabar Coast to the kings of Mysore. However the King of Travancore, who was under the protection of the East India Company, refused to pay the tribute.
Eventually the Mysore army began to move to Travancore from the north. The Dutch military garrison at Cranganore Fort tried to stall the movement. Hyder Ali asked his commander Sardar Khan to take an army of 10,000 along the Cochin Kingdom. In August 1776, Cochin was invaded from the north and the fort at Trichur was captured.
After the surrender of the ruler of Cochin, Hyder advanced to the Travancore Defence Lines (the Nedumkotta fortifications). By this time Airoor and Chetuva Fort were 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 ruler of Cranganore, however surrendered to Hyder Ali, though the Dutch stormed his palace and captured it in January 1778.
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 northern 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 Mahé and Pondicherry. 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.
Malabar in Second Anglo-Mysore War
The English East India Company captured the French controlled port at Mahé in Malabar in 1779. Mahé was of great strategic importance to Hyder Ali, who received French supplied arms and munition through the port, and Hyder had not only explicitly told the British it was under his protection, he had also provided troops for its defence. Hyder set about forming a confederacy against the British, which, in addition to the French, included the Marathas and the Nizam of Hyderabad. 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 (1779–1784). By February 1782, Dharpattom, Nitore, Calicut, and Palakkad Fort surrendered to the British forces under Major Abington. Sardar Ali Khan, the Mysore commander, died later.
During the summer of 1782, East India Company officials in Bombay sent additional troops to Tellicherry, from whence they continued operations against Mysorean holdings in the Malabar. Hyder Ali sent his elder Tipu Sultan and a strong force to counter this threat, and the latter had successfully pinned this force at Ponnani.
Tired of continuous setbacks, Hyder Ali then sent an army unit under Makhdoom Ali to Malabar to restrain the anti-Mysore activities through south. 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 to 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 to the fear of a surprise attack from the Mysore-Ali Raja coalition forces intended to siege forces in the extreme weather conditions. Major Macleod subsequently reached Ponnani before taking over the command of British forces on the Malabar Coast. 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. So, Tipu Sultan was successful pinning the English forces force at Ponnani.
It was here Tipu learned of Hyder Ali's sudden death due to cancer. Tipu Sultan's precipitate departure from the scene provided some relief to the British force, but Bombay officials had sent further reinforcements under General Matthews to Ponnani.
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 14 November 1783. During this time, the 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. During this time, a prince from the Zamorin dynasty emerged and the English retreated conferring the Fort to the prince. But, soon Tipu's forces marched to Palakkad fort and occupied it with the entire southern Malabar.
In December 1783, General Macleod, with fresh support of the French, captured Cannanore from the Arakkal, who was a long time ally of Mysore in Malabar. This was followed by Beebi's failed negotiation attempt with the British.
The war was ended on 11 March 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. By this treaty, the British (and the Nair kings) controlled the entire northern Malabar, and Mysore ruled southern Malabar. And General Macleod was forced to move back forces from Cannanore.
Muhammad 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. Muhammad Ayaz Khan slowly rose as to the Nawab of Bednore under Hyder Ali. In 1779, Hyder conquered Chitaldurg had it placed under the command of Muhammad Ayaz Khan. Historian Mark Wilks states that Tipu Sultan, Hyder Ali's son, was jealous of and opposed Khan, since from the very beginning Hyder Ali had considered the latter more "intelligent". After the ascension of Tipu Sultan in 1782, Khan moved to the English side and lived rest of his life in Bombay.
Mysore rule between the wars (1784–1789)
After the Second Anglo-Mysore War, the Mysore ruled Malabar which experienced numerous anti-Mysore uprisings even by the local Mappila (Muslim) population, against the new land taxes. Tipu Sultan, to put an end to the land problems 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 by 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.
In 1787, the Mysore captured Iruvazhinadu by murdering Kurungothu Nair, the ruler of Iruvazhinadu and an old ally of the French. The French then became the closest ally of Mysore, continuing to supply arms to the kingdom. 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.
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 jagir, continued his rebellion against the Mysore power. The Nair army was defeated under the superior Mysore lines led by M. Lally and Mir Asar Ali Khan. However, during the above operations, Ravi Varma assisted not less than 30,000 Brahmins to flee the country and take refuge in Travancore. In 1789, Tipu marched to Kozhikode with a 60,000-strong army, destroyed the fort, and razed the town to the ground. This event is known as the Fall of Calicut.
In August 1788, the ruler of Parappanad, a chieftain of Nilamboor, Trichera Thiruppad, and many other Hindu nobles who had been carried away earlier to Coimbatore by Mysore under Tipu, were forcibly converted to Islam.
Manjeri Hassan, a native Moslem, led an unsuccessful local rebellion of Mappilas 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.
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, found political asylum in Travancore from Mysore under Tipu 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.
Tipu Sultan's attacks on Travancore (1789–1790)
Tipu Sultan decided to tight his grip on the possessions in Malabar and to occupy Travancore as he saw the control of ports and access of routs to them highly strategic. The control over Travancore was always been a dream of the Mysore sultans, and Hyder Ali's attempt to defeat Travancore was failed in 1767. The kingdom of Travancore had been a target of Tipu Sultan since the end of the Second Anglo-Mysore War. Indirect attempts to take over the kingdom 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. Tipu Sultan received invitation to intervene from some kings of Malabar, especially from the ruler of Cannanore, and soon the Mysore forces were in Malabar. 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.
Monitoring closely the conquest of Mysore on Malabar and the making of Cochin to a tributary state, Travancore had bought Cranganore and Pallippuram forts from the Dutch. Travancore deteriorated relations by extending the Nedunkotta fortifications along the border with Mysore into territory claimed by Mysore in Cochin. Travacore, via the Nawab of Carnatic, found relations with the English East India Company and expected a retaliation by them on an attack on the Nedunkotta fortifications.
In 1789, Tipu sent forces to the Malabar to put down a rebellion; many found political asylum in Travancore and Cochin in the wake of his advance.
In late 1789, Tipu began to build up troops at Coimbatore in preparation for an assault on the Nedumkotta, the fortified line of defence built by Dharma Raja of Travancore To follow the 1789 rebels. 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.
On 28,29 December 1789, Tipu Sultan attacked the Nedunkotta from the north, signalling the start of the Battle of the Nedumkotta (Travancore-Mysore War). As the English East India Company promised Battle of the Nedumkotta was the event lead to the Third Anglo-Mysore War. Out of his army numbering several tens of thousands, about 14,000 along with 500 local Muslims marched towards the fortifications.
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 Mysore forces. Tipu Sultan commanded his soldiers to level up the ditch, so that his army can advance, while retreating Travancore soldiers and militiamen regrouped on the other side of the ditch. Unable to fill the ditch under heavy fire from the enemy, Tipu ordered his soldiers to march forward through a very narrow passage. This move backfired on the Mysore, as a group of two dozen Nair militiamen from the Nandyat kalari under Vaikom Padmanabha Pillai ambushed their enemies half-way. A few dozen Mysore soldiers died of direct gun-fire, and the commanding officer was killed. Many more panicked and in the ensuing chaos fell into the ditch and died. The reinforcements sent by the Mysore were prevented from merging with the main contingent by a batch of the Travancore regular army. The Mysore army suffered 2,000 deaths and many thousands were injured. Several high-ranking Mysorean officers were taken prisoner, including five Europeans and one Maratha.
However after the initial defeats (it was an embarrassing defeat for Tipu, whose force was panicked by fire from a small number of defenders), Tipu Sultan regrouped his army and captured the Nedumkotta line several months later. While Tipu regrouped, Governor Holland, much to Cornwallis' dismay, engaged in negotiations with Tipu rather than mobilising the military. Cornwallis was on the brink of going to Madras to take command when he received word that Holland's replacement, General William Medows was about to arrive. Medows forcibly removed Holland, and set about planning operations against Mysore. The Mysore army broke the Nedumkotta lines and the Travancore army made a strategic retreat, leaving the Mysorean army in command of Alwaye. British forces in Travancore were too few to withstand the assault, and withdrew to the Ayacotta. Later Mysore captured the Cranganore Fort and Ayacotta. The Travancorean forces regrouped, but the onset of monsoons prevented Tipu from moving south(combat being much more difficult during the monsoon season) and he retreated once he heard about the attacks by the English at Mysore.
Afterwards, the Nairs of Travancore recovered the sword, the pallanquin, the dagger, the ring and many other personal effects of Tipu Sultan from the ditches of the Nedumkotta and presented them to the ruler of Travancore. Some of them were sent to the Nawab of Carnatic on his request.
Later in April 1790 Tipu came back with reinforcements and this time was able to break into the territory after making the way through the Nedumkotta. He destroyed the wall at Konoor kotaa or kottamuri and advanced further. He filled trenches for a few kilometres to enable his army to move forward.He destroyed many temples and churches and brought enormous harm to the people. He finally reached the Periyar river banks at Aluva and camped there. However by this time a small group led by Vaikom Padmanabha Pillai and Kunjai Kutty Pillai went upstream and managed to break the walls of a dam at Bhoothathankettu causing heavy flash floods downstream Periyar river. All the ammunition and gunpowder of Tipu's army got wet and became inactive. He was thus forced to return. Information that the British army was planning an attack on Srirangapatnam hastened his retreat.
British take the Malabar
In late 1790, British forces took control of the Malabar Coast. A force under Colonel Hartley gained a decisive victory (in the Battle of Calicut) in December, while a second under Robert Abercromby routed the Mysore at Cannanore a few days later. Mysore forces were defeated by the Travancore forces near the Alwaye River in 1790.
Battle of Calicut (1790)
The Battle of Calicut (also called the "Battle of Thiroorangadi") took place between 7 and 12 December 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 Mysore army, killing or wounding about 1,000, and taking a large number of prisoners, including the commander, Hussein Ali.
Capture of Cannanore
Forces of the British East India Company, led by General Robert Abercromby, began besieging Cannanore, held by troops of Mysore and of the Ali Raja on 14 December. 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.
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.
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.
As per a commission of enquiry appointed by the English soon after Tipu Sultan's death, during the rule of Tipu Sultan tens of thousands of Nairs (Hindus), besides about 30,000 Brahmins and Christians, fled Malabar to seek refuge in Travancore, leaving behind their wealth.
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.
Upper- and lower-caste Hindus and local Christians 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. 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.
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.
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 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.
A broad picture of atrocities in Kadathanad by Mysore army under Hyder Ali 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;
|“||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.||”|
In his book Tipu Sultan: As known in Kerala, Ravi Varma says: "Hyder Ali despatched his Brahmin messengers (after the Anti-Mysore Uprisings in the second half of 1766) 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."
Ravi Varma further states that:
|“||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.||”|
Gunddart said in his Kerala Pazhama that it is just not possible to describe the cruel atrocities perpetrated by Tipu Sultan in Kozhikode during the Fall in 1789. William Logan gives in his Malabar Manual a long list of temples destroyed by Tipu Sultan and his army. Elankulam Kunjan Pillai has recorded the situation in Malabar as follows:
|“||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.
In a letter dated 18 January 1790, to Syed Abdul Dulai, Tipu writes:
|“||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.||”|
Writing on 19 January 1790, to Badroos Saman Khan, Tipu Sultan said;
|“||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;
|“||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 13 February 1790, addressed to Budruz Zuman Khan, Tipu Sultan 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.||”|
Many Hindus belonging to lower castes accepted conversion to Islam under the Mysore rule. However, many others, especially the Thiyyas, fled to Tellicherry and Mahé.
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". 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.
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.
Destruction of Hindu temples
According to the Malabar Manual by 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 under 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 under Tipu Sultan.
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 Hindu temples from the payment of land tax. But Tipu Sultan forced the Hindu 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".
Hiding of the Hindu idol at Guruvayur
In 1766, Hyder Ali of Mysore captured Calicut and then Guruvayur. To not to demolish the Hindu temple at Guruvayur using force, Mysore demanded 10,000 fanams from the authorities, which was paid. On the request of Governor of Malabar, Shrinivasa Rao, Hyder Ali granted a devadaya (free gift) and the temple at Guruvayur was saved from destruction.
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