Descendants of Tipu Sultan and their current plight! - Paradox Indeed

Descendants of Tipu Sultan and their current plight! - Paradox Indeed

Descendants of

Tipu Sultan

and their current plight! - Paradox Indeed

Have you ever wondered what happened to the descendants of all the famous historical figures who have changed the course of India? Indian Royalty and its grandeur are known the world over. In fact when the British came to India they were bedazzled by the wealth and lifestyle of Indian Royalty. Of the diverse royalty, who can forget the massive contribution of Tipu Sultan, also known as the Tiger of Mysore, and was a ruler of the Kingdom of Mysore. His contributions in the administrative field during his rule, coinage system, and a new Mauludi lunisolar calendar along with a new land revenue system which initiated the growth of Mysore silk industry – all reflects the capabilities of Tipu Sultan as an able king

In the beginnings of 1990’s “The Sword of Tipu Sultan” was aired in Doordarshan that beautifully highlighted the life and times of the ruler. The show was so popular that it ran for one year and was later re-telecast over the years. So far, so good! Have you ever wondered about what happened to the lineage of such a popular historical figure? What about his descendants? Where are they? Is his lineage still there or has his bloodline dried up?

Well, it turns out that the descendants of Tipu Sultan are living in Kolkata, the capital city of West Bengal. Bespectacled and grey haired Mohammed Hussain Shah is now 75 years old and the other one is the 7th descendant of Tipu Sultan, Prince Anwar Ali, who is a rickshaw puller!

Hussain Shah’s great grandfather, Anwar Shah’s grandfather was Tipu Sultan. In fact there is a road in South Kolkata that is named after Anwar Shah.

Blast from the past…

Tipu Sultan was defeated and killed by the British army in 1799 in the battle of Srirangapatanam. According to Hussain Shah, after Tipu’s defeat, his family comprising 12 sons and some immediate relatives were deported to Kolkata so that they could not revolt against the British

This way the royal family of Mysore was forced to live a life of animosity, although they received a certain amount as pension. The British Empire also provided plots to settle in the Tollygunge area – located in the southern part of Kolkata.

Out of the 12 sons, seven sons have no surviving male heir. Of the other five sons, the descendants of only two, Mooniruddin and Ghulam Mohammed, are traceable. While Mooniruddin’s descendant, namely, Hussain Shah earns his livelihood as a small-time businessman, the descendants of Ghulam Mohammed live in extreme poverty. Maqbool Alam, another distant descendant, also lives in penury.

Past and the Present….

One look and you very well notice the difference between how the Mysore royalty must have lived and how Hussain Shah is living. He lives in a flat in a multistorey apartment block that overlooks the Hooghly River.

A few years back he was living in the Park Circus area with his joint family comprising of his two sons. One is a lawyer while the other one is a Chartered Accountant in a firm.

Sadly, Shah has no memorabilia that can proudly reflect his royal connections. However, over the years, Shah has collected gold, silver and copper coins that were minted during Tipu’s tenure. Don’t think that he has got these as part of his royal legacy. He has collected these coins from different sources that he traced through the internet and that too at a cost. Shah proudly displays his coin collection along with the books that have Tipu’s photograph as well as the copy of the Treaty of Seringapatam that confirms Mysore’s surrender to the British.

Shah has no personal memories of connection with Tipu Sultan as he was not born when Tipu’s descendants were deported to Kolkata. But Hussain Shah likes to research and collect information that highlights the historical significance of Tipu and the Mysore kingdom.

After Ghulam Mohammed’s death, his family members fought over the claim to be the true heir. In the year 1944, the Calcutta High Court gave its verdict on the same. It formed a trust comprising five members that will look after the affairs of the descendants. As per the court’s decision, Prince Hyder Ali, who was the 5th descendant of Prince Ghulam Mohammed, was appointed the first head of the trust.

If we take into account the assets of the trust, one cannot help but wonder how the descendants can live in such penury even though the trust has so many assets under it. Well, corruption and mismanagement has led to the poor functioning of the trust whereby the descendants have been deprived of all the benefits and facilities and are forced to live on a mere pension.

Royal lineage and current Plight - Paradox Indeed!!

Kolkata, the first capital city of India has many landmarks that celebrate the courage and valour of Tipu Sultan. The most popular is the elegant mosque in Prince Anwar Shah Road.

You must have heard about the Royal Calcutta Golf Club that caters to the city’s elite since the 19th century. Well the club is built on the land that belongs to the descendants of Tipu Sultan. The land was given out on lease.

But the fact is that Prince Anwar Ali, the 7th descendant of Tipu Sultan, is a rickshaw puller. He pulls a rickshaw to make both the ends meet.

By Amrita Ghosh

Edition: 15 Mar, 2016 - 14 Apr, 2016

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