Hyder Ali Khan (c. 1720-1782)

Hyder Ali Khan (c. 1720-1782)
as a young man in Sepoy uniform

Size: 19.3 x 14.2 in (49 x 36.1 cm)
Date of printing: 1880s-1890s

A soldier-adventurer, Hyder Ali became one of the most formidable rivals the British ever encountered during their colonial presence in India, only to be excelled by his son, Tipu Sultan.

His father was a chief constable in the princely state of Mysore which exposed him to French tactics and weapons. He began to employ European mercenaries to train and advise his troops. He founded his own company, was the commander of an army by 1757 and the minister of state by 1761. He assumed full control of Mysore when the Rajah died in 1766 and became the ruler of the Kingdom of Mysore.

Though illiterate, he was the inventor of the iron-cased Mysorean rockets used in war and known for his administrative and military skills. In a series of wars involving the British with some French assistance, the Marathas and the Nizam of Hyderabad he gained and lost many territories but was able to hand Mysore intact to his eldest son – Tipu Sultan. Hyder’s extensive kingdom was bordered by the Krishna River in the north, the Eastern Ghats in the east and the Arabian Sea in the west. His son also continued to oppose the British, carrying forward his father’s determination to remain free of imperial domination.