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  3.35 View of Hoally Gateway, where Tipu Sultan was Killed  

©The British Library (OIOC) , London
View of Hoally Gateway, where Tipu Sultan was Killed; 1799

20.5 x 27.3 cm


ccording to the contemporary inscription on this watercolour, the gateway was on the north face of Seringapatam, a short distance from the North-East angle of the palace and about three hundred yards from the North-East angle of the fort. At that time, the inner gateway, opposite the road which still leads to the Mosque was the most eastern of all the sally ports. The inscription also suggests that the structure was of little significance: 'It was built about five years ago and is only worthy of notice as being that part where Tippoo Sultaun was killed.' In 1804, Lord Valentia, who was staying at Seringapatam with the officers of the De Meuron Regiment wrote in a letter of 4th March that 'The Gateway where Tippoo fell has been destroyed with the inner work: a road is formed in its stead which will ultimately add much beauty to the town.' At Seringapatam today, an inscribed stone, standing some distance East of the Watergate claims to mark the site of Tipu's death.

Some authors, including Kirmani and Hasan, have suggested that this gate was shut deliberately on the fateful 4th May, to block Tipu's escape. Nor would the guards re-open the gate when ordered to do so. Even the Commandant of the fort, Mir Nadim, standing on the roof of one of the gates, ignored Tipu's commands. The omens for that day had not been favourable, and Tipu himself may have suspected treachery. His own Diwan, Mir Sadiq, had already approached the Nizam of Hyderabad, negotiating a reward for himself in return for betraying his master. The Nizam seems to have kept his word, because he awarded Mir Sadiq land at Gurramkonda after the fall of Seringapatam. Mir Sadiq's reputation for extortion and torture was notorious, both under Haidar Ali and as one of Tipu's favourite officers - he appears with Tipu in the Pollilur mural at the Darya Daulat palace, Seringapatam. However, as Francis Buchanan relates, Mir Sadiq died the death of a merciless traitor at the hands of Tipu's followers: 'his corpse lay for some time exposed to the insults of the populace, none of whom passed without spitting on it or loading it with a slipper; for to him they attributed most of their suffferings in the tyrannical reign of the Sultan'. The artist of this watercolour, Thomas Sydenham, was an engineer with the Madras army. During the final assault on Seringapatam, he was attached to the southern party under Col Sherbrooke, together with Majors Allan, Beatson and Dallas. Two of Sydenham's drawings were in the collection of Colin Mackenzie.

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