On the Afternoon of 4th May 1799

Srirangapatna, 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 referred to as Seringapatam, and Tipu Sultan was called 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. 

The war saw Tipu's defeat at both Seedaseer and Mallavelly on March 6th and 27th, 1799, respectively. General Harris led the British army, which crossed the Kaveri and arrived near Srirangapatna by April 1st.

When Tipu beheld the British army advancing across the river Kaveri, he addressed his officers: "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 was swayed by a superstitious belief that he was under the protection of the Deity of Srirangapatna. He had determined to defend the fort to the utmost of his ability, 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 the daybreak on 4th May, Major General David Baird led a formidable force of 2494 Europeans and 1887 Indian Sepoys to the trenches. At approximately half past one, Baird stepped out of the trenches and initiated the attack. After a considerable amount of time, the British flag was hoisted atop the summit of the breach.

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 Diwan Purnaiah 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 (4th May, 1799):

Brahmin astrologers informed Tipu Sultan that the day of 4th of May, 1799 was inauspicious due to it being the last day of a lunar month. To avert any potential calamity, they recommended that the Sultan present a series of oblations. Heeding their advice, the Sultan arrived at the palace around 10 o'clock with a grand display of offerings. He presented an elephant, a bag of oil seeds, a black bullock, a buffalo, two hundred rupees, and an iron pot filled with oil. Before delivering the pot, he held his head over it to catch a glimpse of his reflection, a ceremony to avert misfortune. After the ceremony, he dismissed the astrologers and asked them to pray for the prosperity of his government. With that, the Sultan returned to Kalale Diddi, hopeful that his offerings would bring good fortune.

On that day, Tipu 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 wore his sword in a luxurious belt slung over his right shoulder, and a small cartridge box hung 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 reported to him that the Europeans were preparing to launch an attack, either during the day or at night. In that morning, Syed Sahib had also informed him that four or five thousand Englishmen were assembled in trenches with arms and ammunition. Sayyid Gaffur had repeatedly warned the Sultan that an assault seemed imminent; and recommended that the Sultan should give orders to the troops to be on high alert. However, Tipu did not express any concern and believed that the British would not attack during the day.

Last Moments of Tipu Sultan:

It was near one o'clock when Tipu arrived at Kalale Diddi. He ordered his meal, however, before he could finish, the alarm of the assault reached him. Without hesitation, he washed his hands and grabbed his weapons. As he buckled on his sword, he received news that his loyal general, Sayyid Gaffur, had been killed. He exclaimed, "Sayyid Gaffur was never afraid of death....let Muhammad Qasim take charge of his division". He then hastened along the ramparts towards the breach, accompanied by some of his most trusted chiefs.

As he surveyed the battlefield, Tipu realized that many of his men had either fled or been slain in the initial engagement. He stood behind one of the rampart's traverses and began firing at the enemies himself. Although he managed to take down several foes, he soon found himself alone and surrounded by the enemy. 

With no other option, Tipu retreated to the north ramparts and mounted his horse, riding eastward towards the sally-port of the water gate. However, as he made his way across the bridge, he found the sally-port crowded and impassable. Unfortunately, the storming party had followed his tracks and were dangerously close. 

On the first fire, the Sultan was hit by a musket-ball in his right side. Despite his injury, he pushed forward through the crowd, three or four paces into the gateway. Just as some of the storming party had come up, the Sultan was shot through the left side, and his horse was also wounded in the leg. In the chaos, his turban fell to the ground.

The Sultan informed his personal attendant, Raza Khan, of his injury. 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 of the gateway, where he rested for a few minutes, weak and exhausted, until British soldiers entered the gateway.

One of the soldiers, unaware of Tipu Sultan's identity, noticed his ornamented sword belt and attempted to pull it off. Despite his weakened state, the Sultan using all his remaining strength, swung his sword at the soldier, injuring him near the knee. The soldier, shot the Sultan with his musket through the temple, and killed him instantly.

Thus fell the Tiger of Mysore, at the age of forty-eight. To this day, it remains a mystery as to who killed him. With the death of Tipu Sultan the 4th Anglo-Mysore war came to an end, and the British became the masters of his dominions.

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

Raza Khan subsequently conveyed to the British that Tipu Sultan's greatest concern was the safety and well-being of his family. He was determined to shield them from any possible disgrace or dishonor. 



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,