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Politics & War

Hyder Ali

Hyder Ali


• The exact date of Hyder Ali’s birth is not known with certainty. Various historical sources provide dates ranging between 1717 and 1722 for his birth.
• His father, Fath Muhammad, was born in Kolar, and served as a command in the army of the Nawab of Carnatic. Fath Muhammad eventually entered the service of the Wodeyar Rajas of the
Kingdom of Mysore, where he rose to become a powerful military commander.
• The Wodeyars awarded him Budikote as a jagir (land grant), where he then served as Naik (Lord). Hyder Ali was born in Budikote; he was Fath Muhammad’s fifth child, and the second
by his third wife.


• He entered military service along with his brother Shahbaz after their father died in combat.After serving for a number of years under the rulers of Arcot, they came to Seringapatam, where Hyder’s uncle served.
• He introduced them to Devaraja, the dalwai (chief minister, military leader, and virtual ruler) of Krishnaraja Wodeyar II, and his brother Nanjaraja, who also held important ministerial posts.
• Hyder and his brother were both given commands in the Mysorean army; Hyder served under Shahbaz, commanding 100 cavalry and 2,000 infantry


• In 1748, Qamar-ud-din Khan, Asaf Jah I, the longtime Nizam of  Hyderabad, died. The struggle to succeed him is known as the Second Carnatic WarFrench and British forces were also involved.
• By 1755 Hyder Ali commanded 3,000 infantry and 1,500 cavalry, and was reported to be enriching himself on campaigns by plunder. In that year he was also appointed Faujdar (military commander) of Dindigul.
• In this position he first retained French advisers to organise and train his artillery companies. In these early wars he also came to dislike and mistrust Muhammed Ali Khan Wallajah, the Nawab of the Carnatic.
• In fact Muhammed Ali Khan Wallajah and the Mysorean leaders were long at odds with each other, seeking territorial gains at the other’s expense. Muhammad Ali Khan Wallajah had by then formed an alliance with the British.


• He was accused by Hyder Ali in later years of effectively preventing him from making any sort of long-lasting alliances or agreements with the British.
• Throughout the Carnatic Wars, Hyder Ali and his Mysore battalions served alongside French commander and also assisted Chanda Sahib on various occasions. Hyder Ali supported the claims of Muzaffar Jung and later sided with Salabat Jung.
• Hyder Ali, who was illiterate, was reported to be blessed with a prodigious memory and numerical acumen. This financial management may have played a role in Hyder Ali’s rise in power.
• In 1757 Hyder Ali was called to Seringapatam to support Devaraja against threats from Hyderabad and the Marathas. Upon his arrival he found the Mysorean army in disarray and near mutiny over pay.


• Hyder Ali then led the Mysorean campaigns against the Nairs of Malabar. For his role in these activities Hyder Ali was rewarded by Devaraja with the jaghir of Bangalore.
• In 1758 Hyder Ali successfully forced the Marathas to lift a siege of Bangalore. By 1759 Hyder Ali was in command of the entire Mysorean army.
• The young raja Krishnaraja rewarded Hyder Ali’s performance by granting him the title Fath Hyder Bahadur or Nawab Hyder Ali Khan.
• Because of the ongoing conflicts with the Marathas the Mysorean treasury was virtuall.Hyder Ali was a beneficiary of this action, rising in influence in the court.


• In 1760 the queen mother conspired with Khande Rao.He was precipitously forced out of Seringapatam, leaving his family, including his son Tipu Sultan, under house arrest.
• Hyder Ali soon consolidated his strength.Soon afterward Hyder Ali marched alongside Makdum Ali’s forces, which numbered about 6,000, along with the 3,000 men from his garrison at Bangalore, toward Seringapatam.
• They clashed with Khande Rao’s forces before reaching the capital. Khande Rao, with 11,000 men, won the battle, and Hyder Ali was forced to apply to the exiled Nanjaraj for support.
• The two armies faced each other again, but a deception by Hyder Ali convinced Khande Rao to flee instead of engaging in battle. Hyder Ali took over most of its remnants and surrounded Seringapatam. The ensuing negotiations left Hyder Ali in nearly complete military control of Mysore.


• After overthrowing Khande Rao, Hyder Ali formally styled himself Sultan Hyder Ali Khan in his correspondence with the Mughal Emperor Shah Alam II.
• Over the next few years Hyder expanded his territories to the north. Two key acquisitions were Sira, taken from the Marathas, and the kingdom of Bednore.
• He made sure his son Tipu received a quality education, “employing learned tutors” and “appointing a suitable hand of attendants” to see to his upbringing.
• He cultivated a suspicion of foreigners, specifically refusing to allow the British to have a resident at his court.


• The taking of Bednore included several ports on the Malabar coast, including Mangalore.Hyder used these ports to establish a small navy.
• Hyder had amicable relations with the Christian population in Mangalore,  which had long been under Portuguese influence and had a sizeable Roman Catholic population and with Christians in general.
• Hyder’s army also included Catholic soldiers, and he allowed Christians to  build a church at Seringapatam, where French generals used to offer prayers and priests used to visit.
• However, many Mangaloreans (not just Christians) disliked him for the heavy tax burden he imposed on them.