Sweeping through a musty palace room, researchers are amazed to find the silk outfit Tipu Sultan wore the day he died fighting the British
Researchers have stumbled upon a priceless piece of history in a dump: the quilted kurta-like dress warrior-king Tipu Sultan wore the day he died fighting the British.
The silk garment, with Tipu's bloodstains, lay in a room full of old papers and discarded furniture at the palace in Srirangapatna, a source revealed to MiD DAY.
Srirangapatna was Tipu's capital, and is a 15-minute drive from Mysore.
The government is hesitating to make a formal announcement because it feels the kurta needs better security.
"This is one of the most exciting finds ever when it comes to Tipu memorabilia," said a source in Srirangapatna.
"We have in our hands the very dress he wore when he fell to bullets of the East India Company."
Some workers, accompanied by history scholars, were routinely sweeping through a room in the palace when they found the quilted dress lying in a corner. "The room is used to dump useless stuff," said the source.
The discovery comes to light on the eve of the 210th year of Tipu's martyrdom on May 4, 1799.
A scholar researching Tipu's life, Talkad Chikkarange Gowda, was instrumental in spotting the treasure.
Gowda, who lives in Bangalore, is a frequent visitor to the palace, a 110 km drive from this city.
"Yes, we've found it," said Gowda. "And it's a very important discovery."
Tipu died inside the fort, in what historians call the Fourth War of Mysore.
The dress, left in the dust for over two centuries, is pale ivory-coloured, a source said. It is possible the original colour has faded away.
"It has become brittle, and we'll need expert help to preserve it," said Gowda.
The researchers also found his pajamas and string in a glass case. Alongside, they found a note by the British describing the significance of the costume.
"It confirms he was wearing it when he took his last breath," said Gowda.
The war costume is now with the Tipu Sultan Wakf Board, Srirangapatna.
The board, managed by the state government, plans to put up the costumes for public display from May 24 at Tipu's summer palace in Bangalore. Governor Rameshwar Thakur will inaugurate the exhibition.
"We will arrange proper security first," said Aziz Ulla Baig, chairman, Tipu Sultan Wakf Board. "We plan similar exhibitions in Vellore and other parts of India in the days ahead," he added.
Tipu's last day
>>The British took away most of what Tipu had collected in his palace during his reign (1782-1799).
>>The East India Company regarded him as one of India's most powerful kings. Tipu had inflicted severe blows on the British in two wars.
>>But they joined hands with the Nizam of Hyderabad and the Marathas and killed him in 1799. About 50,000 soldiers broke through Tipu's fort, and he took them on valiantly with his men.
>>He was either pierced with a bayonet, or fell to artillery fire from British soldiers.
Why it's worth Rs 30 crore
>>In 2004, beer baron Vijay Mallya bought a sword belonging to Tipu at an auction for about Rs 1.5 crore.
>>Tipu's war dress would fetch at least Rs 30 crore if it ever got to the auction market, a historian said.
>>"The sword was one among 13 Tipu used, he said," requesting anonymity. "This dress has much greater value since it was on Tipu's person when he died, and there can be only one of its kind."
>>Clothes worn by war heroes are hardly ever found when they die in dramatic and violent circumstances, he said.