Hyder Ali (1722-1782) was a great Indian general whose outstanding martial splendor saw him become the factual ruler of the Kingdom of Mysore in south-western India. He married Fakhr-un-nissa (Fatima Begum), to become the father of the great warrior-ruler Tipu Sultan, where together they fought many a gallant battle opposing the British invasion in India.
Haidar Ali is believed to have been born in 1722, while other sources state 1717 as his year of birth. He was born into a devout Shia Muslim family, his great-grandfather being a fakir from Gulbarga in the Deccan. Coming from a military lineage, Hyder's father was a naik (chief constable), while his brother served as a commander of a brigade in the Mysore army. Assisting his brother, young Hyder slowly learnt the art of warfare over the years, to then infuse his own military brilliance into operations, eventually rising from his humble roots into a ruler of the Hindu state of Mysore.
An adventurous warrior and a great strategist by nature, Hyder Ali is accredited as being the first Indian to have formed to a corps of armed sepoys backed by a artillery base comprising European sailors. His contribution during the siege of Devanhalli (1749) earned him an independent control from the Raja of Mysore, which, over the years he strengthened to gain power, thus becoming the practical ruler of Mysore in 1761.
Hence began Haidar Ali's several conquests to expand the dominions of his kingdom which included the wealthy conquest of Kanara (1763), the conquest of Calicut, and the quashing of the Hindus at the Malabar Coast in 1765, avenging himself against the Marathas. The 1766 agreement of alliance between the Madras Presidency and the Nizam of Hyderabad against Hyder Ali fell through with the British fighting battles at Chengam and Tiruvannamalai against united forces however, prevailed.
Following a rebuke in the peace propositions owing to Hyder's severe losses on the western coast, he moved his army to the outskirts of Madras, thus resulting in the treaty of defensive alliance and mutual restitution of all conquests in 1769. When the British breached the faith of the treaty resulting in his loss against the Marathas in 1772, Hyder Ali avenged it by seizing Mahé from the French in 1779 and then completely devastated a British force 1780, led by Colonel Baillie in the invasion of the Carnatic region. The British bounced back with all their might in 1781, and Hyder Ali faced three successive defeats against Sir Eyre Coote and the capture of Nagapattinam by the British fleet.
Hyder Ali breathed his last at Chittoor in December 1782, however, his son Tipu Sultan, continued his father's legacy and unrelentingly wagered on the battle against the rivaling British.
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