Heir Apparent of Tipu Sultan

Tipu Sultan had 12 sons at the time of his death in the 4th Anglo-Mysore war in 1799.

In this article, we will endeavor to identify the rightful heir, or in other words, the legitimate son of Tipu Sultan. To shed light on this issue, we can examine the demand made by Charles Marquess Cornwallis for the hostage Princes with respect to the treaty of Srirangapatna. The demand stipulated that any two of Tipu's three eldest sons be surrendered as hostages

Thomas Hickey, the artist who created portraits of Tipu Sultan's seven eldest sons, identified Fateh Hyder, Abdul Khaliq and Muiz-ud-din as the three eldest sons. However, Muhi-ud-din was actually the third son of Tipu Sultan.

Prince Muhi-ud-din, son of Tipu Sultan - Unknown artist - Victoria Memorial Hall

Tipu Sultan's Wives:

Tipu Sultan had three wives. In 1771, he married two ladies simultaneously, as narrated by Kirmani: Nawab Hyder Ali Khan, Tipu's father, insisted that his son marry the daughter of Imam Sahib Bakhshi, Nayut, who had been brought from Arcot. However, Tipu's mother did not approve of this match and instead chose the daughter of Lala Mian, in accordance with the wishes of the bridegroom himself and their family. This decision angered the Nawab, who then ordered that the Prince marry both ladies on the same night.

1. Padshah Begum (m. 1771) was the daughter of Imam Bakshi of Arcot. She was a nominal wife only.

2. Ruqiya Banu Begum (m. 1771), the daughter of Lala Mian, died on the day the British stormed Srirangapatna in 1792. Says Kirmani, "The wife of the Sultan, who on the arrival of the allied powers at Srirangapatna, by the concussion and shock of the battering guns was seized with a palpitation of the heart, her delicate frame being much shaken, in a few days departed to enjoy the gardens of Paradise."

3. Khadija Zamani Begum (m. 1796), the daughter of Syed Sahib, also predeceased Tipu Sultan.

The Vakils mentioned Fateh Hyder, Abdul Khaliq and Muiz-ud-din as the three eldest sons of Tipu. Denys M Forrest tells us the 'misleading information' provided by Tipu's Vakils on which of the two Princes should be selected as hostages:

Fateh Hyder, the eldest son of Tipu Sultan, was about 14 years old, and considered illegitimate. Due to his obnoxious behavior towards his father, Tipu was reluctant to part with him. Abdul Khaliq, the second son, was eight years old and suffered from a disease since infancy, making him unfit to leave the zenana. Muiz-ud-din, the third son, was the favorite of the Sultan and considered his destined successor. Despite this, Tipu was willing to give him up as a sign of his sincerity and to allow the young prince to interact with important figures from the three kingdoms. The three younger sons were still at their nurse's breasts and were out of the question.

In the end, it was Abdul Khaliq and Muiz-ud-din, the second and third sons according to the Vakils, who left the fort for Cornwallis's camp on February 26, 1792.

Why Tipu Refused to Surrender Fateh Hyder?

Major Alexander Dirom, the author of the narrative of the 3rd Mysore war of 1792, reported that the Vakils had declared Fateh Hyder to be unpromising and not in favor with Tipu. However, he suspected that the Vakils were instructed to sacrifice the truth in favor of policy. This was done to avoid the demand of Fateh Hyder as one of the hostages, which would have been highly unpleasant for a prince of his age.

"Fateh Hyder was at that time a young man [about 19 years of age] with a cavalry command actively opposed to us," notes Alexander Baillie as the reason for not sending Fateh Hyder.

Why not Muhi-ud-din, the third son?

"Tipu was not likely to surrender Muhi-ud-din for the reason that he was the only legitimate child of his father," remarks Alexander Baillie. Wilks, who wrote the first history of Mysore, confirms that Muhi-ud-din and his two sisters, Noor-un-nisa and Kuleema, the children of Ruqiya Banu, were the legitimate children of Tipu Sultan. 

In certain British narratives, Muhi-ud-din was referred to as Sultan Padshah. Denys M Forrest notes: "Muhi-ud-din's very existence seems to have been concealed by the Vakils, and if Tipu, helped by the aural similarity in names, was in fact palming off Muiz-ud-din as his heir, I can only say that he had a complete success with the English delegates, with Cornwallis himself, and with the contemporary chroniclers."

Death of Muhi-ud-din:

Muhi-ud-din and his three brothers, Fateh Hyder, Abdul Khaliq and Muiz-ud-din, were transferred to Vellore on June 18, 1799. However, following the Vellore mutiny in 1806, they were relocated to Calcutta. Muhi-ud-din and Muiz-ud-din were accused of aiding the mutineers at Vellore, although nothing was proved against them. Tragically, on April 30, 1811, Prince Muhi-ud-din took his own life by shooting himself.

Mothers of Other Princes: Fateh Hyder's mother was Raushmi Begum, a dancing girl from Adoni who was taken captive by Tipu Sultan, along with her sister, during the First Anglo-Mysore War. Abdul Khaliq's mother was a Hindu women from Mysore. Muiz-ud-din's mother was Durdana Begum, who was one of the twenty women bought in Delhi by an agent of Hyder Ali. Yasin, Jami-ud-din and Munir-ud-din were by the same mother.