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  3.40 The tomb of Tipu Sultan  


© Private Collection
The shawl-covered tombs of (on the west) Tipu Sultan, (centre) his father, Haidar Ali, and (on the east) his mother, Fakhr un-Nissa, in the mausoleum at Gumbaz, Seringapatam; c.1911

Unknown Photographer, Possibly A Member Of The Tait Family

our companies of Europeans escorted the bier on its journey from the palace to Gumbaz, and Prince Abdul Khalik, Tipu's second son, was the chief mourner. As the procession moved eastwards across the island, many of Tipu's subjects prostrated themselves at the roadside. At the Lal Bagh, troops presented arms as the bier passed, and, after the ceremony, 5,000 rupees were distributed as charity to the poor.

Tipu's body, wrapped in muslins and rich brocades, was laid beside that of his father in the vault below these tombs. Traditionally, the shawls which covered the tombs would have been red for Tipu, as a martyr to the Faith, black or purple for Haidar, and pink for his wife. A magnificent set of richly embroidered coverings was presented by Tipu's eighth son, Ghulam Mohammed, who died in Calcutta in 1877, and at the beginning of the 20th century, when this photograph was taken, wonderful shawls covered the tombs. This was still the practice twenty years later, when Constance Parsons, writing in 1931, mentions also bunches of peacock feathers, the symbols of royalty, at the foot of each tomb, and rose petals strewn on the tombs for remembrance. Today, the coverings are more likely to be of synthetic fabrics, and the bold tiger striped cloth used c.1984, has been replaced by others in scarlet and gold.

A contemporary manuscript transcription, among the papers of Lady Clive at Powis Castle, gives the following as a translation of the inscription beside Tipu's tomb:

'Tippoo Sultan obtained unexpectedly. He spilt his own blood in the Road to Salvation. This happened on the 20th of Zukaudie.

It was on a Saturday, the Gates of death were opened to him. Eight Hours of the Day had passed (when) blood flowed from the Walls and Doors - He had lived fifty years in Prosperity and reigned Padshah seventeen years


  And at last, found martyrdom according to his desire.
Alas what destruction to the inhabitant also the House!
Shed tears of blood O! Earth and Age!
The Sun and the Moon mourned in company with each other -
The Sky became inverted; the Earth dark; -
Then, when I saw the utmost darkness pervade the whole universe, I exclaimed from Grief, "What year of the general mourning is this?"
A Spirit with an half suppressed Sigh, replied to me
"The Light of Islam and of religion has departed from the world."


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