Tipu Sultan was born in Devanhalli, Karnataka on 10th Dec 1750. His parents were Hyder Ali and his secod wife Fatima. His father Hyder Ali had usurped the throne of Mysore in 1761 and had declared himself the sultan of Mysore, completely controlling the kingdom.
Tipu was trained to be a warrior from his early teens . He had accompanied his father on campaigns against rivals such as the British East India Company, the Marathas and the Nizam of Hyderabad.
Tipu was a man of learning and was proficient in multiple languages. He was also a able war strategist as is evident from his early victories in battles.
His primary rivals continued to be the British. He fought several successful wars against the British East India Co, starting in 1766 when he participated in a campaign at the age of fifteen (accompanying his father).
Another war in 1779 saw Tipu dispatched by Hyder to fight the British after their capture of the French fort of Mahe, which was under the protection of Mysore.
In 1780, Tipu defeated Col. Baille of the British East India Co. at the Battle of Pollilur. The following year he seized Chittur from the British and in 1782 he defeated Col. Braithwaite at the Battle of Annagudi, near Tanjore.
Tipu was able to force the Treaty of Manglore on the British in 1784 , with the help of the French. The French were able to convert Tipu's army into a modern fighting force , equipped with artillery and rockets.
Tipu also introduced a new coinage, a new calender and a new system of weights and measures based on French methods.
After the death of his father in 1782, Tipu became the sultan of Mysore.
In 1789, Tipu invaded Travancore, an ally of the British. They had earlier taken over two forts belonging to the king of Cochin who was a vassal of Mysore. This act resulted in an alliance between all his old rivals viz. the British, the Marathas and the Nizam of Hyderabad, whose collective strength inflicted a defeat on Tipu. His allies, the French too failed to support him in his hour of need (probably due to their own domestic troubles back in Europe).
Tipu died on 4th May 1799, fighting valiantly in battle at Serirangapatnam, facing the British forces commanded by Sir Arthur Wellesley, the future Duke of Wellington.
Tipu Sultan was not just famous as a great general , but also as a good administrator. He built several buildings, roads etc and improved the infrastructure of his city. To his enemies he was a ruthless foe, but to his subjects he was a benevolet king.
Tipu left behind sixteen sons and eight daughters from his four wives. They along with the rest of the family were exiled to Calcutta.