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Tipu Sultan's legacy being resurrected at a museum in Kolkata.

Kolkata: At a time when political controversies are raging over the celebration of the birth anniversary of the 18th century ruler Tipu Sultan, his descendants in Kolkata are constructing a museum to highlight the military wizardry and diplomatic strategies of the Tiger of Mysore.

"We are restoring the mosque in Tollygunge named after him. Will also create a museum next to it that will display Tipu Sultan's robes and various personal belongings," said Anwar Ali Shah, an eighth-generation descendant of the Deccan ruler.

Descendants of the immediate family members of sultan were exiled to Kolkata, erstwhile Calcutta, by the British after the warrior was killed during the fourth Anglo-Mysore war of May, 1799. Sultan's 14th son, Prince Gholam Mohammad Sultan Khan, was exiled along with other family members in 1806 at the age of three. From a life of royal grandeur, the family was thrown into an uncertainty in the marshlands of the southern fringes of this city. They were made to stay in hutments in the southern fringe of the city.

Prince Gholam (who was eventually knighted by the British in 1870) grew up in poverty, but managed to save a substantial portion of the stipends the British gave his family, invested them judiciously and came to possess considerable wealth. He constructed two mosques one at Tollygunge and Esplanade in the late 1830s that he named after his father and built a large estate that includes the present-day Tollygunge Club and the Royal Calcutta Golf Club.

"Along with Tipu, the museum will also portray the legacy of Sir Gholam and his descendants. The idea is to tell the story of the brave hero who had sacrificed his life for India's freedom," said Shah.

The proposed museum will also highlight a few little-known aspects about Tipu's military and diplomatic strategies. As many may not know Tipu Sultan as missile scientist, and as former Indian President APJ Abdul Kalam had said, he was the innovator of the world's first military missile.

The museum will exhibit manuals and diagrams re-created from accounts of the rockets that the sultan developed and used to devastating effect against the British. "He also raised a special 5,000-strong rocket corps with men skilled in launching the weapons at an angle calculated from the diameter of the cylinder and the distance to the target. The rockets had sharp swords mounted on them, and could wreak significant damage when fired en masse against a large army," said Shah.

Sultan's rockets were also said to be much more advanced than those of the British invaders. He also developed wheeled rocket launchers from which five to ten rockets could be launched almost simultaneously. After Sultan's defeat, the British improved on his rocket technology to develop the Congreve rockets that were deployed in the Napoleonic Wars and the 1814 Battle of Baltimore.

He also tried to forge a grand alliance involving the French, the Ottoman rulers of Turkey and the rulers of Afghanistan, Persia and Oman against the British. Sultan's descendants also want to set the record about the Mysore king straight.

"He made cow slaughter and beef eating a punishable offence. Those who committed the crime had their hands cut off," said Humayun Ali Mirza, another descendant of the sultan.

"We are planning to develop an audio-visual presentation which will be shown in schools so that the new generation can be educated about the heroics of the man," said Mukarrum Ali Mirza, another descendant.

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Date:Jan 3, 2015
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