Mysore Invasion of Kerala: Tipu Sultan's Defeat

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Malabar is an area of Southern India lying between the Western Ghats and the Arabian Sea, the region was originally called Kerala. During Hyder Ali's invasion, the important kingdoms of Kerala were the Kolathiris of Chirakkal (present day Kannur) and the Zamorins of Calicut (Samoothiris of Kozhikode). By 1708, the British East India Company established its trading factory at Tellicherry. The Kingdom of Cochin was under the complete influence of the Dutch since 1663. Calicut was the local capital of the Mysore-ruled Kerala.
Tipu Sultan's Fort at Palakkad
Hyder Ali entered Kerala for the first time in 1757 as per request of the Raja Komi Achan of Palakkad to help him against Zamorin's attack. At that time Hyder was serving as the Faujdar of Dindigul under the Wodeyars of Mysore. Hyder along with the army of Palakkad defeated the Zamorin. The Zamorin sued for peace and agreed to pay a war indemnity of 12 lakhs and the Mysore army was withdrawn. Thus the whole dominion of Palakkad passed into the control of Hyder Ali.

Heard of Hyder's conquest of Bednore (Ikkeri) in 1763, Ali Raja Kunhi Amsa II (1745-1777) of Arakkal (a feudatory of Kolathiri Raja) requested Hyder to help him fight with his enemy the Raja of Kolathunadu. In 1766, Hyder invaded Malabar a second time and defeated all the kingdoms on Malabar including Kolathunad, Kottayam, Kadathanad, Valluvanad and Palakkad. Ali Raja and his men seized the Chirakkal palace where upon the members of the family took refuge at Tellicherry. Hyder then marched towards Calicut as the Zamorin failed to pay Hyder's demanded sum tribute in 1757. The Zamorin committed suicide by setting fire to his palace after sending his relatives to Ponnani. Thus Calicut also comes under Hyder's control.

Next Hyder planned to attack Travancore, which was a British ally. Hyder asked the Rajas of Cochin and Travancore to pay the expenses of his Malabar campaign. The Raja Kerala Varma (1760-1775) of Cochin agreed to pay tribute to Hyder but Raja Karthika Thirunal Rama Varma (1758-1798) of Travancore replied that if Hyder withdrew from Malabar he would agree to a payment. Rama Varma constructed the Nedumkotta Fort (Travancore Defense Lines) to prevent attacks from Malabar. The Maharajah refused to stop construction of the Nedumkotta, which passed through Cochin territories up to the Kodungallur Fort. Hyder wanted a free passage to Travancore through the Dutch territories but the Dutch refused his request. The Mysore army under Sirdar Khan captured the Chettuvai Fort and Pappinivattom from the Dutch. The set in of monsoon and the heavy rains forced Hyder to retreat to Coimbatore. Taking advantage of Hyder's absence and monsoon, the Nair soldiers rose in revolt all over Malabar and they killed many of the Mysore administrative staffs appointed by Hyder Ali. Hearing the news Hyder rushed to Malabar (Jun 1766) and defeated the rebels. After suppressing the rebellion, Hyder started the construction of a fort at Palakkad in 1766. However, he had to leave Malabar as the British along with the Marathas and the Nizam of Hyderabad attacked Mysore in 1767 (First Anglo-Mysore War). During that time, the chieftains of Malabar began to revolt with the help of the British. So Hyder came to an agreement with the Rajas of Malabar and he made three conditions for his withdrawal from  Malabar. A war indemnity was to be paid for him, The Ali Raja was not to be disturbed and the Palakkad Fort should remain in his possession. The Rajas of Malabar accepted the conditions and thus the Mysore forces were withdrawn from Kerala in 1768.

The Siege of Tellicherry: (1780-1782)

After conquering Coorg in 1773, Hyder Ali sent a force to Malabar under Sayyid Saheb and Srinivasa Rao through the Thamarassery Pass for non-payment of tributes from the Rajas of Malabar as agreed after war in 1768. Hyders army occupied the territories belonging to Zamorin and the Zamorin retired with his family to Travancore. During the Mysore attacks most of the Rajas of Malabar fled to Travancore from Malabar. Once the true Raja of Kottayam had fled away leaving his people and land to its fate, a three royals: nephew of escaped Raja named Vira Varma and his nephews, Ravi Varma and Pazhassi Raja rose to power in Kottayam. Kerala Varma Pazhassi Raja (1774-1805), the prince regent of Kottayam,  become most powerful figure in Kottayam (Present day Tellicherry). Pazhassi Raja gathered a force and began a guerrilla warfare against the troops of Mysore. 

In September 1776, the Mysore forces under Sirdar Khan marched into Cochin and occupied Trichur, which was under the Kingdom of Cochin. Raja Sakthan Thampuran of Cochin agreed to pay tribute to Hyder. Hyder's forces engaged in small scale attacks throughout Malabar; with Travancore, British and Dutch forces as well as with Pazhassi Raja's men in northern Malabar. In 1776, Hyder appointed the Prince Regent of Chirakkal as his representative to carry on the administration in North Malabar. The Kadathunadu Raja also became a tributary to Hyder. Meanwhile war broke out between English and French (1778) and the local chieftains, the Zamorin and the Rajas of Kadathunadu and Pazhassi Raja tried to recover their lost territories from Mysore by helping the English in the war against French. The British captured the French Settlement at Mahe in 1779. Offended by this Hyder joined in a confederacy with the Nizam of Hyderabad and the Marathas and declared war against the Brtitish (Second Anglo-Mysore War). In October 1780, Sirdar Khan laid siege to Tellicherry which lasted for 18 months. Unfortunately, Sirdar Khan was defeated by Major Abington and was taken prisoner. In 1781, Pazhassi Raja's feudal army and British under Major Abington jointly defeated the Mysore army at Tellicherry. The failure of Hyder to capture Tellicherry fort boosted the morale of local Nair chieftains. They captured Mysore garrisons from all parts of Malabar and finally the Mysore army remained only in Palakkad. The British troops under Major Abington took Calicut on February 13, 1782. Hyder then ordered his son Tipu to recapture his lost territories in Kerala. Tipu's forces stormed the British camped at Ponnani. But as Hyder Ali passed away in 1782, Tipu was obliged to leave for Mysore to occupy his father's throne. In 1783, the British under Colonel Fullerton captured the Palakkad Fort and placed the Zamorin in charge of it. The British also compelled Ali Raja Bibi Junumabe II (1777-1819) of Arakkal to enter into a treaty of friendship with them. As per the Treaty of Mangalore in 1784, which concluded the Second Anglo-Myore war, the British restored Malabar to Tipu Sultan.

Tipu Sultan's Padayottam in Kerala:

Tipu Sultan's invasion of Kerala is popularly known as Padayottam. Tipu wanted to retake the principalities which had revolted against the Mysore rule after the departure of Hyder Ali Khan from Malabar. Tipu reconquered the territories occupied by the British. Kottayam was ready to become a vassal state of Mysore but Tipu demanded 81,000 rupees as tribute which was difficult to pay for the lower castes. Pazhassi Raja's brother Ravi Varma was forced to sign a treaty which ceded Waynad to Tipu Sultan in 1786.  When Tipu decided to attack Kottayam, both Ravi Varma and Vira Varma fled away to Tellicherry. But Pazhassi Raja decided to stand and fight. Pazhassi Raja allied with British against Tipu on the mutual understanding that the rule of the land would be given to him after defeating Tipu. Together they captured the Katirur and Kuttiyadi fort from Tipu’s men. Thus Kottayam was in the control of Pazhassi Raja.

Meanwhile, Raja Rama Varma of Travancore purchased the forts of Kodungallur and Ayakotta from the Dutch to improve the country's defenses (July 1789). Since Cochin was a tributary to Mysore, Tipu wanted Rama Varma to demolish the northern side of Travancore Lines which pass through Cochin territory. Tipu claimed that the forts of Kodungallur and Ayakotta were actually belonged to his territory ie, Cochin. He also demanded Rama Varma to surrender the Hindu chiefs and nobles from Malabar who had been given asylum in Travancore. The Raja replied that he purchased the forts as per the advice of British and the Defense Lines were existed long before Cochin became tributary to Mysore. He also replied that the Hindu principles of hospitality would not permit him to give up those helpless persons who had sought protection under him. Finally, Tipu Sultan attacked the Nedunkotta Fort from the North.

Battle of Nedumkotta (1789)On 28 December 1789, Tipu Sultan attacked the Nedumkotta Fort and a large portion of the right flank of fort was under the control of Mysore army by 29th Dec. The small army of Travancore soldiers at once poured in a heavy fire on the Mysore army, which killed the Commanding Officer and created a panic chaos. During this sudden and unexpected attack, the Mysore Army became panicky and in the confusion Tipu Sultan fell down from the ramparts of the fort into the ditch below along with his palanquin. Tipu was seriously wounded and went permanently lame. The Travancore soldiers recovered the sword, the palanquin and many other personal effects of Tipu from the ditch and presented them to the Maharaja. 

After their initial defeat, the Mysorean army regrouped on the banks of Periyar River in Alwaye and prepared for their attack on the Nedunkotta Fort on 2nd March 1790. The Travancore army was no match for the huge Mysore army. Under the guidance of Diwan Raja Kesavadas (Prime Minister of Travancore), a temporary bund was constructed way up on the stream by a team headed by General Kalikutty Nair. Finally a breach of about 1 km in length was effected and the Mysorean army entered Travancore. The British forces stationed to assist Travancore did not provide aid to Travancore since they had not received orders from Governor Hollond to fight with Tipu. After the breach, Tipu captured the Kodungallur and Kuriapalli Forts. 

In May 1790, when the Mysore army was advancing further, the temporary bund was breached by the Travancoreans, causing an unexpected flood which drowned many Mysore soldiers and rendered the gunpowder wet and useless. Periyar river was flooded and the Mysorean army could not advance further. The remaining forces were defeated by a sudden attack by Travancore under the Diwan and Kalikutty Nair. Meanwhile, Governor General Cornwallis removed the Governor of Madras Mr. Hollond from his post, as he had not provided any aid to Travancore in the battle. On receiving information that the British had declared war on Mysore, Tipu rushed to Srirangapatnam, abandoning his military operations against Travancore. In the meantime, the Rajas of Chirakkal, Kottayam, Kadathanad and other local chieftains accepted the offer of protection of the British and by the end of 1790, the British captured the Palakkad Fort and the Kannur Fort after defeating Arakkal Bibi.

As per the Treaty of Manglore, the British East India Company treated Tipu's attack on Travancore as a violation of the Treaty and equivalent to declaration of war against the British. This lead to the Third Anglo-Mysore War and on January 29, 1791, Cornwallis advanced towards Tipu's capital Srirangapatna along with the Marathas and the Nizam. Tipu Sultan was defeated and with the Treaty of Srirangapatna signed in 1792, Malabar came under British rule.

NOTES:

Cochin-Travancore Alliance: In 1759 the Zamorin of Calicut had invaded Cochin.  The Raja of Cochin had sought help from his neighbor, Dharma Raja of Travancore and he dispatched a force under General de Lannoy, which drove out the Zamorin from Cochin. The Raja of Cochin agreed to bear a portion of the costs in addition to permitting the construction of the many portions passing through his territory.

Travancore-Dutch War (Battle of Colachel): In the battle of Colachel in 1741, Marthanda Varma of Travancore won a decisive victory over the Dutch and captured 24 officers including the commander Eustachius De Lennoy and Donadi. De Lannoy, popularly known as 'Valiya Kapithan' was raised as General and he modernised the Travancore forces and made it superior to those of the other Kings of Kerala. Treaty of Peace and friendship concluded between Marthandavarma and the Dutch in 1753.

Both male and female members can adorn the position of the ruler in Arakkal dynasty. Thus, the male ruler is termed as Ali Raja and the female ruler as Arakkal Beebi. With the possession of the Kannur Fort and their alliance with the Mysore rulers, Arakkal became the most powerful rulers of the Malabar during the period.

Though Rama Varma (1775-90) had succeeded Raja Kerala Varma, Sakthan Thampuran had become the virtual ruler of the Kingdom of Cochin in 1769, though he actually ascended the throne in 1790. During the reign of Rama Varma, the Raja of Cochin was called upon by Tipu Sultan to play the role of a mediator between Mysore and Travancore.

Karthika Thirunal Rama Varma of Travancore is popularly known as Dharma Raja.  During the Mysore attacks, the royal families of Malabar and Hindu and Christian families fled to Travancore, where they were received and treated hospitably by the Maharaja.

Kottappuram Fort popularly known as Cranganore Fort/Kodungallur Fort was built by the Portuguese in 1523. It was captured by the Dutch in 1663 and sold it to Travancore in 1789. Later Tipu Sultan demolished it in 1790.

Pallipuram Fort popularly known as Ayakotta was built by the Portuguese in 1503 and is the oldest existing European fort in India. The Dutch captured the fort in 1661 and sold it to Travancore in 1789.

Tipu Sultan captured the Jain Temple in Waynad. He used the temple as his Battery and thus the town became known as Sultan's Battery, which gradually became Sultan Bathery.

Cannanore Fort popularly known as Fort St. Angelo/Kannur Fort was built in 1505 by Francisco de Almeida, the first Portuguese Viceroy in India. In 1663, the Dutch captured the Cannanore Fort from the Portuguese. In 1772, the Dutch sold the Kannur Fort to the Arakkal family.

Palakkad: Palghat
Kannur: Cannanore
Kozhikode: Calicut
Samoothiri: Zamorin

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