M3 Features

What’s left of the regal dynasty

November 21, 2014

Tipu Sultan's descendants were exiled to distant Kolkata by the British nearly two centuries ago. The dynasty survives, but all signs of regality are gone now. Immersed in squalor and decay, they seem no different from the other unfortunates around them. To see this fate of the surviving descendants of one of the most famous sons of the Mysore dynasty is indeed tragic. Fateh Ali Shah Tipu Sultan, revered as the ’Tiger of Mysore‘, achieved fame through his military genius and statesmanship, and died fighting the British at Seringapatnam in May 1799.

Many of these descendants are now engaged in small-time jobs. One plies a rickshaw to earn his daily wages,another has a kerosene dealership while some others look after garment shops. These still are the more fortunate ones of the clan, who have a reliable source of income.

Another more distant descendant, Maqbool Alam, lives a hand-to-mouth existence in a decaying red brick house on Prince Anwar Shah Road. The hall on the first floor of the building is rented out, while the space below the wooden staircase and the open area around the house is let out to motor mechanics. "After all, we have to survive," says Alam, adding,"we did not inherit much property and had nothing to do with the Ghulam Mohammed Trust.”

Considered to be one of the richest Muslim trusts, the properties of the Ghulam Mohammed Trust include Tollygunge Club, Tipu Sultan Mosque, Royal Calcutta Golf Club, Tollygunge Racecourse, Shaw Wallace building, Shahi Mosque, two burial grounds and small pieces of land scattered from Tollygunge in the south to Dharmatala in the city's central business district. Though the descendants are drawing from this trust that owns several valuable properties, they still live lives of penury. Because of litigation and competing claims, Tipu Sultan's descendants have received little or no help from the trust set up in 1872 by Ghulam Mohammed.

Another branch lives in a decaying two-storied hovel surrounded by filthy drains and adjoining a red-light area in Tollygunge. The sad state of affairs has brought them to such an extreme poverty that they have even been forced  to chop off the wooden doors and windows of the haveli to provide fuel for their chulhas (stoves).

This tragic state of affairs of the descendants of one of the most illustrious dynasties of India is indeed very hard to take in; one really wishes things would have been different!




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