was the military invasion of Malabar (northern Kerala), including the territories of the Zamorin of Calicut, by the Muslimde facto ruler of the Kingdom of MysoreHyder Ali. After completing the occupation, Kingdom of Cochin,
situated south of Malabar, was made a tributary state of Mysore. The
major reason for the occupation of Malabar was the desire to have access
to the Indian ocean ports. The Mysore invasion provided the English East India Company more chances to tight their grip on the ancient feudal principalities of Malabar and converting Travancore, over whom Mysore Sultans attacked after Cochin, to a mere protected ally Mysore Army under Tipu Sultan, the successor of Hyder Ali, is recorded to have forcefully converted over 400,000 Hindus to Islam during this occupation.[unreliable source?]
By 18th century, all the petty kingdoms of Kerala had been absorbed or subordinated by three big states of Travancore, Calicut (ruled by Zamorins) and Cochin. Kingdom of Mysore, nominally ruled by the Wodeyar family, rose to prominence in India after the decline of the Mughal empire. In 1761, Hyder Ali
seized control of all of the reins of power in Mysore by overthrowing a
powerful minister and became the "de facto" head of Mysore Kingdom. He
turned his attention towards expansion which included the capture of the
Kingdoms of Bednur (Ikkeri or Keladi), Sunda, Sera, and Canara. In 1766, he descended into Malabar and occupied the Kingdoms of Chirakkal (former Kolathunad), Kottayam, Kadathanad, Calicut, Valluvanad and Palghat and King of Cochin accepted his suzerainty and paid him tribute annually for from 1766 till 1790. Faruqabad, near Calicut, was the local capital of the Mysore-ruled Kerala.
Hyder Ali's attempt to defeat Travancore, a British ally state south of Cochin, failed in 1767 and second effort by his son Tipu Sultan in 1789–1790 was incomplete. Moreover, Tipu Sultan provoked British invasion in the form of Third Anglo-Mysore War by attacking the Kingdom of Travancore. Thus Travancore was only part of present day Kerala state that stood outside Mysore authority.
By the treaty of Seringapatam
(1792), Tipu ceded half of his territories including Malabar to the
English East India Company and their allies and paid 330 lakhs of rupees
as indemnity. By 1801, the Madras Presidency was created by Lord Wellesley,
by attaching Malabar along with Carnatic territories seized form
Mysore. Travancore was asked by the Company to met the entire
expenditure of the Third Anglo-Mysore war on the plea that the war was
undertaken in defense of Travancore. The new treaty of 1795 reduced
Travancore from a friend and ally of the English East India Company to
that of a protected ally. The King was forced to entertain a subsidiary
force far beyond his capacity to subsidise. The Company also claimed a
monopoly in the black pepper trade of the country.
Canara forces invaded northern Malabar in 1732 at the invitation of the Arakkal.
Under the command of Gopalaji, 30000 strong Canara soldiers, easily
overran prince Kunhi Ambu's (Cunhi Homo) forts in northern Kolathunad.
By early 1734 the Canara soldiers captured Kudali and Dharmapatanam. By
1736, the Canara army was driven out of the whole of northern Malabar
with assistance from the English East India Company. However, the Prince
Regent incurred a huge debt with the Company factors at Tellichery as a result.
The Nayaks of the Kingdom of Bednur (Keladi, Ikkeri Nayak Kingdom)
planned another attack on Kolathunad in 1737. Prince Kunhi Ambu agreed
to sign a peace treaty with the Canara which fixed the northern border
of Kolathunad on the Madayi. The English factors of Tellicherry also
signed their own treaty with the Nayak of Bedanur which guaranteed the
integrity of English trading concessions in Malabar in the event of
future conflicts between the Canara and Kolathunad. Hyder Ali first marched to present day Kerala in 1757 as per request of King of Palghat who was a long-time military foe of the Zamorin of nearby Kingdom of Calicut. Hyder Ali, who at that time was the Faujdar of Dindigul under Kingdom of Mysore,
with a force of 2,500 horses and 7,500 men supported by Palghat troops,
marched into southern Malabar. The army defeated the Calicut army and
reached as far as Arabian Sea.
The main intention of the this movement to Malabar was to capture the
vast treasuries of the rulers of Malabar. Malabar Coast was famous for
its foreign spice trade from ancient times. Zamorin came to a treaty
with Haider Ali, in which he was demanded to pay twelve hundred thousand
rupees as the war reparations. However, the Zamorin technically deceived Hyder Ali after the return of the Mysore Army from Malabar. But, for his role in these activities Hyder Ali was rewarded by Devaraja with the jaghir (regional governorship) of Bangalore.
The Calicut army failed because Hyder's troops were organised, armed
and trained in the most modern fashion whereas Calicut army, like rest
of armies of kings of Malabar, relied on feudal levies. Zamorin eventually agreed to pay 1,200,000 as indemnity
to Hyder Ali and so Hyder Ali withdrew. King of Calicut, despite the
invasion, did not modernise his army – a neglect for which he paid nine
Map showing Malabar and Cochin under Mysore
Occupation of Malabar
When news of Hyder Ali's conquest of Kingdom of Bednur reached Ali
Rajah of Cannanore in 1763, he promptly requested Hyder to invade Kerala
and help him deal with Zamorin of Calicut. This Muslim ruler of
Cannanore, an old of rival of the neighboring powerful Kolathiri, was an
active ally of Mysore during the years of occupation. Hyder Ali agreed and in 1766 he marched into Malabar through Mangalore
with a force of 12,000 infantry, 4,000 cavalry and a park of field
guns. During this time he was desperate for a port which opens to the
Arabian sea, as his French allies were supposed to transfer weapons,
ammunition and horses against the British. Pondicherry,
a French controlled port, lied in the middle of Malabar. With his
modern army Hyder Ali easily defetated all the petty kingdoms on the
Malabar, beginning with Kolathunad.
Ali Raja of Cannanore, a long rival of Kolathiri, seized and set fire to the palace of Kolathiri Raja. The latter escaped with his followers to the then-British settlement at Tellicherry. After the victory, Hyder Ali entered the Kingdom of Kottayam in present-day North Malabar and occupied it, with assistance from native Muslims, after some resistance by the Kottayam army.
The first serious resistance encountered by Hyder Ali's army was in
Kadathanad, followed by a series of atrocities against the natives.
Thalassery fort, Thalassery
After the conquest of Kadathanad Hyder marched towards Calicut, the headquarters of Zamorin. Hyder claimed that his invasion was because Zamorin had failed to pay him the twelve lakhs
as agreed in 1757. When Hyder approached Calicut, Zamorin sent his kin
and kith to safehaven in Ponnani and Kottakkal. Zamorin himself was kept
under house-arrest as he failed to pay Hyder's demanded sum tribute and
his finance minister was imprisoned and tortured to reveal any hidden
treasures. Zamorin who was not permitted even to do his routine. Finally
Zamorin decided set fire to the gun-powder store of his palace and thus
Hyder Ali, with a large amount of money, marched south-east and moved towards Coimbatore through Palghat.
Mysore appointed Raza Ali as Military Governor and Madanna (a former
revenue officer) as Civil Governor of the newly acquired province of
Mysore rule (1766-1773)
Shortly after Raza Ali, who was Hyder Ali's lieutenant in command, returned to Coimbatore, Hindus hidden in the forests rebelled against the Mysore authorities. They, supported by the English East India Company, re-occupied forts and large portions of land in the monsoon
season. But, by June 1766, Hyder Ali himself returned to Malabar and
imposed his troops on the rebels, killing many and deporting over 15,000
Nairs to Kanara.
The Gazetteers state that only 200 of 15,000 Nairs being deported to
Kanara survived. One of the most critical battles occurred in Putiyangadi in Vettathunad
where Hindus were defeated completely. The Mysore army stormed the
village and re-captured it. Chaotically hundreds of rebels escaped to
the forest hideouts again. After these events, an amnesty was proclaimed
for the Nairs at Palghat.
Sultan Bathery derives its present name from Tipu Sultan of Mysore who
used the abandoned Jain temple here and used it as his battery hence the
name Sultan's Battery
Mysore's response to was harsh, and after putting down the rebellion,
many rebels were executed, and thousands of others were forcibly
relocated to the Mysore highlands. To prevent another armed uprising,
Hyder Ali suggested anti-Nair laws to the district and levied additional
taxes as punishment against rebellious Nair districts that had
supported the English East India Company.
Eralppad, second line successor to the thrown at Calicut, continued
his attacks against the Mysore forces from southern Malabar. Eventually,
forced by continuous instability and rebellions, Hyder Ali agreed cede
many parts of Malabar to local Hindu rulers (as age old customs existed
in Malabar) as tributary states under the Kingdom of Mysore.Kolathunad and Palakkad,
the strategic entries to Malabar, remained under the central rule from
Mysore. Years later, Kolathunad was given to Kolathiri through some
At the start of 1767, the Mysore army unsuccessfully stormed the
Kingdom of Travancore (a British ally state south of Malabar) from the
In 1767, the whole of Malabar again revolted Mysore's army of 4,000
men, who were defeated by 2,000 Kottayam Nairs in Northern Malabar. All
baggage, arms and ammunition of army was looted by the Nair rebels.
Mysorean garrisons were trapped by Nair rebels who seized the
countryside and ambushed Mysore convoys and communications with great
The following year, the English East India Company, under Captain Thomas Henry, sieged the Sultan Bathery Fort (Avara fort) to interrupt the supply of arms to Arakkal Kingdom, with a promised help from local kingdoms. But the British were forced to retreat in the retaliation.
Mysore army retreated from Malabar temporarily in 1768, successfully crushing the uprisings and building the strategic Palakkad Fort. The authority over Kolathunad was now given to the Arakkal Kingdom. Skirmishes between Arakkal and the Company continued, and in 1770, the Company reclaimed Randattara.
In 1773, Mysore forces under Said Saheb and Srinivasarao marched to Malabar through the Thamarassery Pass, since the Hindu rulers had broke the earlier treaties on paying tributes. So, again in the Malabar came under the direct Mysore authority.
Cochin accepts Mysore's superiority
Mysore conducted a second military movement in 1774, concentrating on
the rich treasures of the Tranvancore. Also, Travancore has given
refuge to the political enemies of Mysore from Malabar. Slowly Hyder Ali
moved southwards with a huge army and negotiated with the Dutch. He
wanted free passage to Travancore through Dutch territories, which was
refused (the Dutch owed Travancore after their defeat in the Battle of Colachel). As Travancore refused to stop the construction of Nedumkotta
fortification, which formed the northern defences of Travancore,
rumours of a proposed invasion of Travancore started developing.
The relics of the entrance of travancore lines
Hyder Ali asked the rulers of Cochin
and of Travancore to pay tribute as vassal states. Cochin was asked to
pay a total of Rs. 400,000 and ten elephants, while Travancore was asked
to pay Rs. 1,500,000 and thirty elephants. The Cochin royals agreed to
pay the amount (unlike Zamorin of Calicut,
who committed suicide) and accepted the Mysore's superiority. Finally,
Malabar and Cochin came under the Mysore rule, opening Malabar Coast to
the kings of Mysore.
However the King of Travancore refused to pay the tribute. They argued that Travancore is already a vassal state of Carnatic Nawabs (Arcot) and are under the protection of the East India Company.
Eventually the Mysore army began to move to Travancore from the north. The Dutch military garrison at Cranganore Fort
tried to stall the movement. Hyder Ali asked his commander Sardar Khan
to take an army of 10,000 along the Cochin Kingdom. In August 1776,
Cochin was invaded from the north and the fort at Trichur was captured.
After the surrender of the ruler of Cochin, Hyder advanced to the Travancore Defence Lines (the Nedumkotta
fortifications). By this time Airoor and Chetuva Fort were ceded to
Mysore. Meanwhile, the Dutch, with the help of the Travancore Nair Army,
put down an attempt by the Mysore forces to capture the Cranganore
Fort. The ruler of Cranganore, however surrendered to Hyder Ali, though
the Dutch stormed his palace and captured it in January 1778.
Relics of Cranganore Fort
After this incident, Hyder's forces engaged in small scale attacks
and ambushes throughout Malabar, with the Travancore, English and Dutch
forces as well as with rooting Nair mutineers in northern Malabar. By
1778, the Mysore allied themselves with the French, who was at war with
the British Empire. In the same year, the English captured Mahé and Pondicherry.
The newly-appointed king of Kolathunad was with the Mysore, providing
crucial supplies to the war and by March, Kolathiri had occupied
Randattara. Soon, Hyder Ali removed the kings of Kadathanad
and Kottayam who were providing the English in their campaigns.
However, after facing losses in Calicut, Palghat and Tinnevelly, Hyder
retreated to Mysore before planning another attack on Travancore.
The English East India Company captured the French controlled port at
Mahé in Malabar in 1779. Mahé was of great strategic importance to
Hyder Ali, who received French supplied arms and munition through the
port, and Hyder had not only explicitly told the British it was under
his protection, he had also provided troops for its defence. Hyder set
about forming a confederacy against the British, which, in addition to
the French, included the Marathas and the Nizam of Hyderabad.
On 2 July 1780, Hyder Ali declared war against the English East India
Company, signalling the start of what was later called the Second Anglo-Mysore War (1779–1784).
By February 1782, Dharpattom, Nitore, Calicut, and Palakkad Fort
surrendered to the British forces under Major Abington. Sardar Ali Khan,
the Mysore commander, died later.
During the summer of 1782, East India Company officials in Bombay sent additional troops to Tellicherry, from whence they continued operations against Mysorean holdings in the Malabar. Hyder Ali sent his elder Tipu Sultan and a strong force to counter this threat, and the latter had successfully pinned this force at Ponnani.
Tired of continues setbacks, Hyder Ali then sent an army unit under
Makhdoom Ali to Malabar to restrain the anti-Mysore activities through
south. Meanwhile, Major Abington and Colonel Humberstone, who were in
Calicut, were ordered to prevent the advance of Makhdoom Ali's army from
the south. In the following battle in Tiroorangadi, more than 400
Mysore soldiers, including Makhdoom Ali, were killed. Colonel
Humberstone chased the Mysore army to Ponnani, with the principal aim of capturing the Palakkad Fort. Due to a thundering torrential storm in Ponnani River,
however, Colonel Humberstone retreated to Calicut. Colonel Humberstone
then moved his unit up to Trithala and the neighbourhoods of Mankeri
Fort, but again retreated to Ponnani to the fear of a surprise attack
from the Mysore-Ali Raja coalition forces intended to siege forces in
the extreme weather conditions. Major Macleod subsequently reached
Ponnani before taking over the command of British forces on the Malabar
Shortly, Tipu's forces stormed the English camped at Ponnani, but 200
of his men were killed so he temporarily retreated. Simultaneously, a
naval force under Edward Hughes reached Ponnani, but the Mysore army
threatened the struggling English with a dreadful attack at any time.
So, Tipu Sultan was successful pinning the English forces force at Ponnani.
It was here Tipu learned of Hyder Ali's sudden death due to cancer.
Tipu Sultan's precipitate departure from the scene provided some relief
to the British force, but Bombay officials had sent further
reinforcements under General Matthews to Ponnani.
The British captured Mangalore
in March 1783, but Tipu, now the ruler of Mysore, recaptured Bednorem
before besieging and eventually capturing Mangalore. At the same time,
in the Tanjore region, Stuart's army joined with those of Colonel
Fullarton before the latter marched along the
Dindigul-Dharapuram-Palakkad route and sieged the Palakkad Fort.
Captain Midland and Sir Thomas under Colonel Fullarton successfully
captured Palakkad Fort on 14 November 1783. During this time, the
Company officials, having received orders from London
to bring an end to the war, entered negotiations with Tipu Sultan.
Pursuant to a preliminary ceasefire, Colonel Fullarton was ordered to
abandon all of his recent conquests. However, due to allegations that
Tipu violated terms of the ceasefire at Mangalore, Fullarton remained at
Palakkad Fort. During this time, a prince from the Zamorin dynasty
emerged and the English retreated conferring the Fort to the prince.
But, soon Tipu's forces marched to Palakkad fort and occupied it with
the entire southern Malabar.
In December 1783, General Macleod, with fresh support of the French, captured Cannanore from the Arakkal, who was a long time ally of Mysore in Malabar. This was followed by Beebi's failed negotiation attempt with the British.
The war was ended on 11 March 1784 with the signing of the Treaty of Mangalore, in which both sides agreed to restore the others' lands to the status quo ante bellum.
By this treaty, the British (and the Nair kings) controlled the entire
northern Malabar, and Mysore ruled southern Malabar. And General Macleod
was forced to move back forces from Cannanore.
Muhammad Ayaz Khan (Hyat Saheb)
Muhammad Ayaz Khan (born Kumaran Nambiar), a convert to Islam, was
one of the hundreds of Nair boys deported to Mysore after the 1766
invasion of Hyder Ali. Muhammad Ayaz Khan slowly rose as to the Nawab of
Bednore under Hyder Ali. In 1779, Hyder conquered Chitaldurg had it placed under the command of Muhammad Ayaz Khan.
Historian Mark Wilks states that Tipu Sultan, Hyder Ali's son, was
jealous of and opposed Khan, since from the very beginning Hyder Ali had
considered the latter more "intelligent". After the ascension of Tipu
Sultan in 1782, Khan moved to the English side and lived rest of his
life in Bombay.
Mysore rule between the wars (1784-1789)
After the Second Anglo-Mysore War, the Mysore ruled Malabar which
experienced numerous anti-Mysore uprisings even by the local Mappila
(Muslim) population, against the new land taxes. Tipu Sultan, to put an
end to the land problems appointed the officer Arshad Beg Khan as the
Civil Governor of Malabar. Khan soon retired from service and advised to
Tipu to visit the region by his own. In 1788, Tipu paid an official
visit to Malabar and talked with the Resident Gribble about the
construction of new city near Beypore.
In 1787, the Mysore captured Iruvazhinadu by murdering Kurungothu Nair, the ruler of Iruvazhinadu and an old ally of the French.
The French then became the closest ally of Mysore, continuing to supply
arms to the kingdom. In the meantime, Arakkal Beebi allied with the
English and Kolathiri replaced them as the ally of Mysore. Kolathiri
captured Randattara and Darmadom from the English. Later in 1789,
however, the company recaptured Darmadom.
In 1788, Ravi Varma,
a rebel hailed from the Zamorin dynasty, proclaimed his rule of the
region and marched to Calicut with his Nair army. Though Tipu conferred
on him a jagir, or vast area of tax-free land, to appease him,
the Zamorin prince, after promptly taking charge of the jagir, continued
his rebellion against the Mysore power. The Nair army was defeated
under the superior Mysore lines led by M. Lally and Mir Asar Ali Khan.
However, during the above operations, Ravi Varma assisted not less than
30,000 Brahmins to flee the country and take refuge in Travancore.
In 1789, Tipu marched to Kozhikode with a 60,000-strong army, destroyed
the fort, and razed the town to the ground. This event is known as the
Fall of Calicut.
In August 1788, the ruler of Parappanad, a chieftain of Nilamboor,
Trichera Thiruppad, and many other Hindu nobles who had been carried
away earlier to Coimbatore by Mysore under Tipu, were forcibly converted
Manjeri Hassan, a native Moslem, led an unsuccessful local rebellion of Mappilas
against the heavy agricultural tax imposed by Mysore. The rebels killed
Manjeri Thampuran, a local Nair ruler, and captured Arshad Beg Khan.
The rebellion was quickly crushed and Hassan, along with his son and his
followers, were captured and taken as hostages to Srirangapatinam,
where they remained until Tipu Sultan's death.
Almost all female members and many male members of different Royal
families such as Chirackal, Parappanad, and Calicut, and chieftains'
families like Punnathoor, Nilamboor, Kavalapara and Azhvanchery
Thamprakkal, found political asylum in Travancore from Mysore under Tipu
and temporarily settled down in different parts of Travancore. Even
after the fall of Tipu Sultan in Srirangapatanam, many of these families
preferred to remain in Travancore.
Tipu Sultan decided to tight his grip on the possessions in Malabar
and to occupy Travancore as he saw the control of ports and access of
routs to them highly strategic. The control over Travancore was always
been a dream of the Mysore sultans, and Hyder Ali's attempt to defeat
Travancore was failed in 1767. The kingdom of Travancore had been a target of Tipu Sultan since the end of the Second Anglo-Mysore War. Indirect attempts to take over the kingdom had failed in 1788, and Archibald Campbell,
the Madras president at the time, had warned Tipu that an attack on
Travancore would be treated as a declaration of war on the Company.
Tipu Sultan received invitation to intervene from some kings of
Malabar, especially from the ruler of Cannanore, and soon the Mysore
forces were in Malabar.
Initially Tipu Sultan tried to induce Travancore tactically with the
help of the Kingdom of Cochin, but the King of Cochin refused and allied
Monitoring closely the conquest of Mysore on Malabar and the making
of Cochin to a tributary state, Travancore had bought Cranganore and
Pallippuram forts from the Dutch. Travancore deteriorated relations by
extending the Nedunkotta fortifications along the border with Mysore
into territory claimed by Mysore in Cochin. Travacore, via the Nawab of Carnatic,
found relations with the English East India Company and expected a
retaliation by them on an attack on the Nedunkotta fortifications.
In 1789, Tipu sent forces to the Malabar to put down a rebellion;
many found political asylum in Travancore and Cochin in the wake of his
In late 1789, Tipu began to build up troops at Coimbatore in preparation for an assault on the Nedumkotta, the fortified line of defence built by Dharma Raja of Travancore In order to follow the 1789 rebels. Cornwallis, observing this buildup, reiterated to Campbell's successor, John Holland,
that an attack on Travancore should be considered a declaration of war,
and be met with a strong British response. Tipu, aware that Holland was
not the experienced military officer that Campbell was, and that he did
not have the close relationship that Campbell and Cornwallis had (both
had served in North America in the American War of Independence), probably decided that this was an opportune time to attack.
On 28,29 December 1789, Tipu Sultan attacked the Nedunkotta from the
north, signalling the start of the Battle of the Nedumkotta
(Travancore-Mysore War). As the English East India Company promised
Battle of the Nedumkotta was the event lead to the Third Anglo-Mysore War.
Out of his army numbering several tens of thousands, about 14,000 along
with 500 local Muslims marched towards the fortifications.
By 29 December, a large portion of the right flank of Nedumkotta was
under the control of Mysore army. Only a 16 feet (4.9 m) wide and 20
feet (6.1 m) deep ditch separated the Kingdom of Travancore from Mysore
forces. Tipu Sultan commanded his soldiers to level up the ditch, so
that his army can advance, while retreating Travancore soldiers and
militiamen regrouped on the other side of the ditch. Unable to fill the
ditch under heavy fire from the enemy, Tipu ordered his soldiers to
march forward through a very narrow passage. This move backfired on the
Mysore, as a group of two dozen Nair militiamen from the Nandyat kalari
under Vaikom Padmanabha Pillai ambushed their enemies half-way. A few
dozen Mysore soldiers died of direct gun-fire, and the commanding
officer was killed. Many more panicked and in the ensuing chaos fell in
to the ditch and died. The reinforcements sent by the Mysore were
prevented from merging with the main contingent by a batch of the
Travancore regular army. The Mysore army suffered 2,000 deaths and many
thousands were injured. Several high-ranking Mysorean officers were
taken prisoner, including five Europeans and one Maratha.
However after the initial defeats (it was an embarrassing defeat for
Tipu, whose force was panicked by fire from a small number of
defenders), Tipu Sultan regrouped his army and captured the Nedumkotta
line several months later. While Tipu regrouped, Governor Holland, much
to Cornwallis' dismay, engaged in negotiations with Tipu rather than
mobilising the military. Cornwallis was on the brink of going to Madras
to take command when he received word that Holland's replacement,
General William Medows was about to arrive. Medows forcibly removed
Holland, and set about planning operations against Mysore. The Mysore
army broke the Nedumkotta lines and made devastated the Travancore army.
British forces in Travancore were too few to withstand the assault, and
withdrew to the Ayacotta. Later Mysore captured the Cranganore Fort and
Ayacotta. Before completing the battle, however, Tipu was forced to
retreat due to the heavy rainfall (combat being much more difficult
during the monsoon season) and attacks by the English at Mysore.
Afterwards, the Nairs of Travancore recovered the sword, the
pallanquin, the dagger, the ring and many other personal effects of Tipu
Sultan from the ditches of the Nedumkotta and presented them to the
ruler of Travancore. Some of them were sent to the Nawab of Carnatic on his request.
British take the Malabar
In late 1790, British forces took control of the Malabar Coast. A
force under Colonel Hartley gained a decisive victory (in the Battle of
Calicut) in December, while a second under Robert Abercromby routed the Mysore at Cannanore a few days later. Mysore forces were defeated by the Travancore forces near the Alwaye River in 1790.
Map of south India, showing Malabar under East India Company
The Battle of Calicut (also called the "Battle of Thiroorangadi") took place between 7 and 12 December 1790, at Thiroorangadi.
Three regiments from the British East India Company, consisting of
1,500 men, led by Lieutenant Colonel James Hartley, decisively defeated a
9,000-man Mysore army, killing or wounding about 1,000, and taking a
large number of prisoners, including the commander, Hussein Ali.
Forces of the British East India Company, led by General Robert
Abercromby, began besieging Cannanore, held by troops of Mysore and of
the Ali Raja on 14 December. After gaining control of the high ground
commanding the city's main fort, the defenders surrendered. The British
victory, along with the taking of Calicut by a separate force a few days
earlier, secured their control over the Malabar Coast.
By the Treaty of Seringapatam signed in 1792, Malabar ceded to the
English East India Company. The treaty resulted in a sharp curtailment
of Mysore's borders to the advantage of the Mahrattas, the Nizam of
Hyderabad, and the Madras Presidency. The districts of Malabar, Salem, Bellary and Anantapur were ceded to the Madras Presidency.
Changes in Malabar
Sultans of Mysore changed the ancient landlord system in Malabar just like the changes which took place in Kingdom of Cochin and Travancore.
To control the region, Tipu Sultan adopted strong measures against Nair
nobles of Malabar and established a centralised administrative system.
This was not totally beneficial for the local Muslims, who were mostly
traders. The changes in Malabar due to the Mysore invasions were as
Due to the fleeing of the local Nair chieftains and landlords to
Travancore lead to a redistribution of landed wealth. However, for
revenues, Tipu introduced the "Jamabandi" system to collect taxes
directly from peasants.
Land was surveyed extensively and classified. Taxes were fixed
considering difference of land and crops and for some crops taxes were
Tipu introduced monopoly in products like pepper, coconut, tobacco,
sandalwood, teak etc. This was a change from the time of the Zamorins
where the Muslim merchants were free to trade in the above commodities,
and "Kozhikode Angadi" was known for its prosperity. Under the
circumstances, the Muslim merchants had no other choice but to become
The roads developed by Tipu for military purposes were helpful for the development of trade.
As per a commission of enquiry appointed by the English soon after
Tipu Sultan's death, during the rule of Tipu Sultan tens of thousands of
Nairs (Hindus), besides about 30,000 Brahmins, fled Malabar to seek
refuge in Travancore, leaving behind their wealth.
According to M. Gangadharan, there is evidence that many Hindus were
converted into Islam. In one of the most widely documented cases, the
army invaded Kadathanadu and forcibly converted the Nair soldiers, who
was holding out for many weeks against the much army without adequate
weapons or food.
Upper- and lower-caste Hindus suffered from the Mysore invasion.
Almost a fourth of the Nair population was wiped out and many more were
forcibly converted. The Nambuthiris (Brahmins) were also severely
affected. According to various rough sources, about half the Hindu
population of Malabar fled the country to the forests or Tellicherry and
Travancore. They included most of the Hindu Rajas and chieftains who
could not resist the invading Mysore army. The Chirackal, Parappanad,
Ballussery, Kurumbranad, Kadathanad, Palghat and Calicut royal families
migrated to Travancore. The chieftain families which did the same were
those of Punnathur, Kavalappara and Azhvancherry Thamprakkal. Even the
Cochin royal family moved to Vaikkom Palace near the famous Shiva Temple
when Tipu Sultan's army reached Alwaye.
Many members of the royal families of Malabar who migrated to
Travancore preferred to remain there despite the withdrawal of Tipu's
army and restoration of peace due to the harsh experience and the
peculiar "psyche" of Muslim population in Malabar. The prominent royal
families were; (1) Neerazhi Kovilakam, (2) Gramathil Kottaram, (3)
Paliyakkara, (4) Nedumparampu, (5) Chempra Madham, (6) Ananthapuram
Kottaram, (7) Ezhimatoor Palace, (8) Aranmula Kottaram, (9) Varanathu
Kovilakam, (10) Mavelikkara, (11) Ennakkadu, (12) Murikkoyikkal Palace,
(13) Mariappilly, (14) Koratti Swaroopam, (15) Kaippuzha Kovilakam, (16)
Lakshmipuram Palace, and (17) Kottapuram.
Karthika Thirunal Rama Varma, the King of Travancore earned the title was addressed as Dharma Raja
on account of his strict adherence to Dharma Sastra, the principles of
justice by providing asylum to the thousands of Hindus fleeing Malabar.
He is also credited with beating back Tipu's assault on Kerala.
Tipu Sultan "Islamized" the place names across Malabar; Mangalapuram
(Mangalore) was changed to Jalalabad, Cannanore (Kanwapuram) to
Kusanabad, Beypore (Vaippura) to Sultanpatanam or Faruqui, and Calicut
(Kozhikode) to Islamabad. It was only after the death of Tipu Sultan
that the local people reverted to old names; however, only one of the
names is intact, Feroke.
In Cherunad, Vettathunad, Eranad, Valluvanad, Thamarassery and other
interior areas, local Mappilas unleashed a reign of terror on the Hindu
population, mainly to retain the occupied land of Hindu landlords and to
establish their domination over Hindus. Fearing the organised robberies
and violence, people could not even travel freely in the Malabar
hinterland of predominantly Mappila population.
A broad picture of atrocities in Kadathanad by Mysore army under
Hyder Ali as described by a Muslim officer of Mysore army in his diary
and as edited by Ghulam Muhammad Sultan Sahib, only surviving son of Tipu Sultan, is given as;
Nothing was to
be seen on the roads for a distance of four leagues, nothing was found
but only scattered limbs and mutilated bodies of Hindus. The country of
Nairs was thrown into a general consternation which was much increased
by the cruelty of the Mappilas who followed the invading cavalry of
Hyder Ali Khan and massacred all those who escaped without sparing even
women and children; so that the army advancing under the conduct of this
enraged multitude Mappilas instead of meeting with continued
resistance, found villages, fortresses, temples and every habitable
place forsaken and deserted.
In his book Tipu Sultan: As known in Kerala, Ravi Varma says:
"Hyder Ali despatched his Brahmin messengers (after the Anti-Mysore
Uprisings in the second half of 1766) to woods and mountains, with the
promise of pardon and mercy to the Hindus who had fled. However, as soon
as the unfortunate Hindus returned on his promise, Hyder made sure that
they were all hanged to death and their wives and children reduced to
Ravi Varma further states that:
quitting the country (Malabar) Hyder Ali Khan by a solemn edict declared
the Nairs deprived of all (social and political) privileges and
(ordered) not to carry arms. This ordinance was found to make the
submission of the proud Nairs absolutely impossible because they would
have thought death preferable to such humiliations and degradation.
Therefore, Hyder Ali Khan by another ordinance, consented to restore all
social and political privileges including carrying of arms, to the
Nairs who embraced the Mohammadan religion. Many nobles had to embrace
Islam; but a significantly large section (Nairs, Chieftains and
Brahmins) chose rather to take refuge in the Kingdom of Travancore in
the South than to submit to the last ordinance.
Gunddart said in his Kerala Pazhama that it is just not
possible to describe the cruel atrocities perpetrated by Tipu Sultan in
Kozhikode during the Fall in 1789. William Logan gives in his Malabar Manual a long list of temples destroyed by Tipu Sultan and his army. Elankulam Kunjan Pillai has recorded the situation in Malabar as follows:
then a centre of Brahmins. There were around 7000 Namboodiri houses of
which more than 2000 houses were destroyed by Tipu Sultan in Kozhikode
alone. Sultan did not spare even children and women. Menfolk escaped to
forests and neighbouring principalities. Mappilas increased many fold
(due to forcible conversion). During the military regime of Tipu Sultan,
Hindus were forcibly circumcised and converted to Muhammadan faith. As a
result of Tipu's atrocities, strength of Nairs and Cheramars
significantly diminished in number. Namboodiris also substantially
decreased in number.
Atrocities committed in Malabar during the days of Tipu Sultan's
military regime have been described in great detail in the works of many
reputed authors. Notable among them, Travancore State Manual of T.K. Velu Pillai and Kerala Sahitya Charitam of Ulloor Parameshwara Iyer.
In a letter dated 18 January 1790, to Syed Abdul Dulai, Tipu writes:
With the grace
of Prophet Mohammed and Allah, almost all Hindus in Calicut are
converted to Islam. Only on the borders of Cochin State a few are still
not converted. I am determined to convert them also very soon. I
consider this as Jehad to achieve that object.
Writing on 19 January 1790, to Badroos Saman Khan, Tipu Sultan said;
achieved a great victory recently in Malabar and over four lakh Hindus
were converted to Islam. I am now determined to march against the cursed
Raman Nair (Dharma Raja Karthika Thirunal Rama Varma).
Father Bartolomaco, a Portuguese traveller and historian, claims;
First a corps
of 30,000 barbarians who butchered everybody on the way... followed by
the field-gun unit under the French Commander, M. Lally. Tipu was riding
on an elephant behind which another army of 30,000 soldiers followed.
Most of the men and women were hanged in Calicut, first mothers were
hanged with their children tied to necks of mothers. That barbarian Tipu
Sultan tied the naked Christians and Hindus to the legs of elephants
and made the elephants to move around till the bodies of the helpless
victims were torn to pieces. Temples and churches were ordered to be
burned down, desecrated and destroyed. Christian and Hindu women were
forced to marry Mohammadans and similarly their men were forced to marry
Mohammadan women. Those Christians who refused to be honoured with
Islam, were ordered to be killed by hanging immediately. These
atrocities were told to me by the victims of Tipu Sultan who escaped
from the clutches of his army and reached Varappuzha, which is the
centre of Carmichael Christian Mission. I myself helped many victims to
cross the Varappuzha river by boats
In a letter dated 13 February 1790, addressed to Budruz Zuman Khan, Tipu Sultan writes;
letters, with the enclosed memorandums of the Naimar (or Nair) captives,
have been received. You did right in ordering a hundred and thirty-five
of them to be circumcised, and in putting eleven of the youngest of
these into the Usud Ilhye band (or class) and the remaining ninety-four
into the Ahmedy Troop, consigning the whole, at the same time, to the
charge of the Kilaaddar of Nugr.
Many Hindus belonging to lower castes accepted conversion to Islam
under the Mysore rule. However, many others, especially the Thiyyas,
fled to Tellicherry and Mahe.
In 1788, Tipu Sultan gave strict orders to his army under M. Lally and Mir Asrali Khan to "surround and extricate the whole race of Nairs from Kottayam to Palghat". This incident is known as The Order of Extermination of the Nayars by Tipu Sultan. After entrusting Calicut to a powerful army contingent, he instructed it "to surround the woods and seize the heads of all Nair factions".
A small army of 2,000 Nairs of Kadathanadu resisted the invasion of
the huge army of Tipu Sultan from a fortress in Kuttipuram for a few
weeks soon the rebels were reduced to starvation and death. Tipu Sultan
entered the fort and offered to spare their lives, provided they
accepted conversion to Islam. After several days of resistance, and
finding it difficult to defend the fort any longer, the Nairs submitted
to the usual terms of surrender – a voluntary profession of the Islam or
a forced conversion with deportation from the land. The unhappy Nair
captives gave a forced consent and on the next day, they were converted
and at closing the ceremony every individual of both men and women was
forced to eat beef, which was prohibited to them by faith.
All the members of one branch of Parappanad Royal Family were
forcibly converted to Islam except for one or two who escaped from
Tipu's army. Similarly, one Thiruppad belonging to Nilamboor Royal
Family was also forcibly abducted and converted to Islam. Thereafter, it
was reported that further conversions of Hindus were attempted through
When the Kolathiri Raja eventually surrendered and paid tribute, Tipu
killed him, dragged his dead body tied to the feet of an elephant
through the streets, and finally hanged him from a tree-top to show his
contempt for Hindu Rajas. Palghat Raja, Ettipangi Achan, who had
surrendered, was imprisoned on suspicion and later taken to
Sreerangapatanam. Nothing was heard of him subsequently.
While escaping from Tipu's army, one of the princes of the Chirackal
Royal family in North Malabar was captured and killed in an encounter
after a chase of few days. As per the accounts of Tipu's own diary and
as confirmed by the English Company records, the body of the unfortunate
prince was treated with great indignities by Tipu Sultan. "He had the
dead body of the prince dragged by elephants through his camp and it was
subsequently hung up on a tree along with seventeen of his followers
who had been captured alive". Another chieftain, Korangoth Nair, who had
resisted Tipu, was finally captured with the help of the French and
Destruction of Hindu temples
According to the Malabar Manual by William Logan,
Thrichambaram and Thalipparampu temples in Chirackal Taluk, Thiruvangatu
Temple (Brass Pagoda) in Tellicherry, and Ponmeri Temple near Badakara
were all destroyed by the Mysore forces under Tipu Sultan. The Malabar Manual
mention that the Maniyoor mosque was once a Hindu temple. The local
belief is that it was converted to a mosque during the days of Mysore
rule under Tipu Sultan.
Vatakkankoor Raja Raja Varma in his famous literary work, History of Sanskrit Literature in Kerala,
has written the following about the loss and destruction faced by the
Hindu temples in Kerala during the regime of Tipu Sultan:
There was no
limit as to the loss the Hindu temples suffered due to the military
operations of Tipu Sultan. Burning down the temples, destruction of the
idols installed therein and also cutting the heads of cattle over the
temple deities were the cruel entertainments of Tipu Sultan and his
equally cruel army. It was heartrending even to imagine the destruction
caused by Tipu Sultan in the famous ancient temples of Thalipparampu and
Thrichambaram. The devastation caused by this new Ravana's barbarous
activities have not yet been fully rectified.
Hyder Ali had exempted Hindu temples from the payment of land tax.
But Tipu Sultan forced the Hindu temples to pay heavy taxes. The famous
Hemambika Temple at Kalpathi of the Palghat Raja who had surrendered to
Hyder Ali, the Kachamkurissi Temple of the Kollamkottu Raja who had
deserted the Zamorin and sided with Hyder Ali, and also the Jain Temple
at Palghat suffered serious damages during the rule of Tipu Sultan.
Other famous temples were looted and "desecrated".
According to certain personal diary notes of Tipu Sultan, the Chirackal Raja offered to pay over Rs. 4 lakh in gold and silver to save the destruction of the local Hindu temples by Tipu Sultan's army. But, Tipu replied that "Even if the entire world is offered to me, I will not desist from destroying Hindu temples"
Hiding of the Hindu idol at Guruvayur
In 1766, Hyder Ali of Mysore captured Calicut and then Guruvayur. To not to demolish the Hindu temple at Guruvayur
using force, Mysore demanded 10,000 fanams from the authorities, which
was paid. On the request of Governor of Malabar, Shrinivasa Rao, Hyder
Ali granted a devadaya (free gift) and the temple at Guruvayur was saved from destruction.
In 1789, Tipu Sultan marched to Malabar. Apprehending the destruction
of the temple at Guruvayur, the idol of Hindu god worshiped was hidden
from Mysore army underground. Moreover, the Utsava idol was taken to
Ambalapuzha by Mallisseri Namboodiri and Kakkad Othikkan. Later the idol
of the god was moved from Ambalappuzha to Mavelikkara. Tipu Sultan
destroyed the smaller Hindu shrines and set fire to the temple, but it
was saved due to rain. The hidden idol of the god and the Utsava idol
were brought back to the temple at Guruvayur on 17 September 1792. But
the daily worships and routines of the Hindus associated with this idol
and temple were seriously affected.