The Heir Apparent of Tipu Sultan

Tipu Sultan had 12 sons at the time of his death in the 4th Anglo-Mysore war. Here is an attempt to find out the heir-apparent or, in other words, the legitimate son of Tipu Sultan. We can start our discussion from Charles Marquess Cornwallis's demand of the hostage Princes with respect to the treaty of Srirangapatna. The demand was that 'any two' of Tipu's three eldest sons to be surrendered as hostages.

Thomas Hickey, who painted the portraits of Tipu Sultan's 7 eldest sons, describes Fateh Hyder, Abdul Khaliq and Muiz-ud-din as the three eldest sons. But, another Prince, Muhi-ud-din, was the third son of the Sultan. Now let's see how many wives Sultan Tipu had.

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

Tipu Sultan's Wives:

Tipu Sultan had three wives. Two ladies, he married simultaneously in 1771. It happened thus, as Kirmani relates: "Nawab Hyder Ali Khan demanded for his son the daughter of Imam Sahib Bakhshi, Nayut, whom he had brought from Arcot, and ordered the preparations for the banquet to be made. The mother of Prince Tipu, however, would not agree to the marriage of this lady; but, agreeably to the choice of the bridegroom himself, and that of their family, selected the daughter of Lala Mian. The Nawab, being angry at the rejection of his choice, gave orders that the Prince should be married to both these ladies 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 and sister of Burhan-ud-din, 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 him.

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' given by Tipu's Vakils on which of the two Princes should be selected as hostages:-

Fateh Hyder the eldest, was about 14 years of age, was illegitimate. ["The Vakils declared that he was not in favour with Tipu, from being of an unpromising disposition", says Major Dirom]. He was extremely obnoxious to his father, and on that account he was averse to parting with him; Abdul Khaliq was eight years of age and due to a disease from his infancy not fit to be taken from the zenana; The third Muiz-ud-din was the favorite son of the Sultan and was considered by the court to be Tipu's destined successor. However, his father was prepared to give him up, as this would be the best proof of his sincerity, and would give the young Prince an opportunity of knowing and being known to the principal personages of 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 the Princes Abdul Khaliq and Muiz-ud-din, ie, the second and third sons according to the Vakils, who left the fort for Cornwallis's camp on 26th February, 1792.

Why Tipu wasn't willing to surrender Fateh Hyder?

Major Alexander Dirom, who wrote the narrative of the 3rd Mysore war of 1792, suspects that the Vakils were directed to make this sacrifice of 'truth' to 'policy', in order to prevent the demand of Fateh Hyder as one of the hostages, which, to a prince at his time of life, must have been extremely disagreeable. "Fateh Hyder was at that time a young man [about 19 years of age] with a cavalry command actively opposed to us", says 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, says that Muhi-ud-din and two daughters, the children of Ruqiya Banu, were the legitimate children of Tipu. These two daughters were Noor-un-nisa and Kuleema.

In some records Muhi-ud-din is mentioned as Sultan Padshah.

Adds Denys M Forrest, "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 along with his three brothers were sent to Vellore on 18th June, 1799, but after the Vellore mutiny (1806) there were removed to Calcutta (Muhi-ud-din and Muiz-ud-din were accused of aiding the mutineers at Vellore, although nothing was proved against them). On 30 April 1811, the Prince Muhi-ud-din committed suicide by shooting himself.

Mothers of Other Princes: It is said that Fateh Hyder's mother was a dancing girl from Adoni named Raushmi Begum, who had been seized by Tipu Sultan, along with her sister during the First Anglo-Mysore War. Abdul Khaliq's mother was a Hindu lady of Mysore. The mother of Muiz-ud-din was Durdana Begum, 'one of the twenty women purchased in Delhi by an agent of Hyder Ali'. Yasin, Jami-ud-din and Munir-ud-din were all by the same mother.