4 May, 1799: The Day Tipu Sultan Met his Martyrdom

Srirangapatna, meaning "the city of Sriranga," a small island nestled in the Kaveri River, is named after the famous temple dedicated to Sri Ranganatha Swami, or Lord Vishnu. The city also holds a significant place in Indian history as the capital of Tipu Sultan, known as the Tiger of Mysore.

During the British era, Srirangapatna was commonly known as Seringapatam, and Tipu Sultan was often referred to as Tippoo Saib.

The Fourth Anglo Mysore war was fought between Tipu Sultan and the British East India Company along with its two allies, the Marathas and the Nizam of Hyderabad.


Tipu Sultan suffered defeats at Seedaseer on March 6, 1799, and at Mallavelly on March 27. General Harris successfully crossed the Kaveri River and advanced towards Srirangapatna by April 1st.

When Tipu beheld the British army advancing across the river Kaveri, he gathered his officers and asked them, "We have now arrived at our final stand; what is your decision?" They replied, "To die along with you," and the meeting broke up in tears.

Tipu Sultan was swayed by a superstitious belief that he was under the protection of the Deity of Srirangapatna. He was resolute in his decision to defend the fort until the very end, often declaring, "As a man could only die once, it was of little consequence when the period of his existence might terminate."

The Last Siege of Srirangapatna:

Before daybreak on May 4th, a storming party of 2494 Europeans and 1887 Sepoys (Indian troops) led by Major General David Baird had positioned themselves in the trenches. At approximately 1:30 PM, Baird stepped out of the trenches and initiated the attack. After a considerable amount of time, they reached the summit of the breach and raised the British flag.

Syed Sahib was in charge of the south-west angle near the breach, assisted by Sayyid Gaffur. Fateh Hyder, Tipu's eldest son, was aided by Purnaiya in defending the northern ramparts and Sultan Battery. Abdul Khaliq, Tipu's second son, was responsible for the southern battlements and the Mysore Gate.

Tipu had been residing in a small choultry at Kalale Diddi, or the Water-Gate, located near the outer rampart of the north face of the fort, for two weeks prior to the siege.

The Assault on Srirangapatna (4 May, 1799):

Brahmin astrologers had warned Tipu Sultan that May 4 was an inauspicious day due to it being the last day of a lunar month. They advised him to perform prescribed rituals to avert any potential calamity.

On the morning of May 4, around 10 o'clock, Tipu proceeded to the palace to carry out the rituals. He presented various offerings, including an elephant, a bag of oil seeds, a black bullock, a buffalo, two hundred rupees, and an iron pot filled with oil. As part of the ceremony, he looked into the pot to see the reflection of his face, a practice believed to ward off misfortune.

Before the Brahmin astrologers left, Tipu requested them to pray for the prosperity of his government. Following the ceremony, he left for Kalale Diddi.

On that day, Tipu Sultan was dressed in a light-coloured jacket, wide trousers of fine flowered chintz, a sash of dark red silky fabric, and a turban adorned with one or two distinguishing ornaments. He carried his sword in a luxurious belt slung over his right shoulder, and a small cartridge box attached to another embroidered belt draped over his left shoulder. His amulet was secured beneath the jacket on his right arm, just below the shoulder.

Two spies informed him that the Europeans were preparing to storm, either during the day or at night. That morning, Syed Sahib also reported that four or five thousand Englishmen were assembled in trenches with arms and ammunition. Sayyid Gaffur repeatedly warned the Sultan that there appeared to be an unusually large number of men in the trenches, indicating a possible assault. He advised Tipu to order the troops to be on high alert. However, Tipu did not express any concern, believing that the British would not attack during the day.

Last Moments of Tipu Sultan:

It was near one o'clock when Tipu Sultan reached Kalale Diddi. As he sat down to eat his meal, he was abruptly interrupted by news of the impending assault. Tipu quickly washed his hands and armed himself with his weapons. While fastening his sword, he was informed of the tragic loss of his loyal general, Sayyid Gaffur. He exclaimed, "Sayyid Gaffur was never afraid of death....let Muhammad Qasim take charge of his division." He then rushed to the breach in the ramparts, accompanied by some of his chiefs.

As he surveyed the battlefield, Tipu realized that many of his men in the front had either fled or been slain in the initial engagement. He stood behind one of the rampart's traverses and fired against his adversaries. Although he managed to take down several foes, he soon realized that a larger, more powerful storming party was advancing towards him.

With no other option, Tipu retreated to the traverses of the north ramparts, mounted a horse, and rode eastward until he reached the slope at the sally-port of the water gate. Upon crossing the bridge and entering the sally-port, Tipu found himself surrounded by a crowd that prevented him from making his way to the town.

The storming party, following his trail, soon caught up to him at the bridge, and in the ensuing chaos, Tipu Sultan was wounded by a musket-ball in his right side. Undeterred, Tipu pressed forward through the crowd, advancing a few paces into the gateway. However, as more of the storming party closed in, he was shot through the left side, his horse was wounded, and his turban fell to the ground.

Tipu informed Raza Khan, his personal attendant, that he had been wounded. Raza Khan proposed to surrender, but the Sultan quickly dismissed the idea, exclaiming, "Are you mad? Be silent."

As Raza Khan attempted to help the Sultan dismount his saddle, they both fell over the piles of dead and wounded soldiers with the horse. Tipu's loyal followers quickly lifted him up and placed him in his palanquin, under the arch on one side of the gateway. There he rested for a few minutes, weak and exhausted, until a group of British soldiers entered the gateway.

One of the soldiers, unaware of Tipu Sultan's identity, grabbed the Sultan's ornate sword-belt and tried to remove it. In response, the Sultan, still clutching his sword, swung at the soldier, injuring him in the knee. The soldier retaliated by aiming his musket at the Sultan's temple and firing, resulting in the Sultan's immediate death.

Thus fell the Tiger of Mysore, at the age of forty-eight (52 or 53, according to his son Abdul Khaliq). The identity of his killer remains a mystery. With the death of Tipu Sultan the 4th Anglo-Mysore war came to an end, and the British gained control of his territories.

On 5 May, Tipu Sultan was laid to rest beside his father Hyder Ali in the mausoleum of Lal Bagh. On that same day Colonel Arthur Wellesley was appointed as the Governor of Srirangapatna.

Raza Khan subsequently conveyed to the British that Tipu Sultan's greatest concern was regarding his family.



A view of the origin and conduct of the war with Tippoo Sultaun: comprising a narrative of the operations of the army under the command of Lieutenant-General George Harris, and of the siege of Seringapatam By Lieutenant-Colonel Alexander Beatson

Lieutenant-General Harris to Lord Mornington [Richard Marquess Wellesley, 2nd Earl of Mornington].

I have the pleasure to inform you that this day, at one o'clock, a division of the army under my command assaulted Seringapatam; and that at half-past two o'clock the place was completely in our possession. Tippoo Sultaun fell in the assault. Two of his sons, the Sultaun Padsha and Mayen-ud Deen are prisoners, with many of the principal Sirdars. Our success has been complete; I will forward to your Lordship details hereafter. I have the honour to be,