Mystery of Tipu's `missing' Sword
Tipu Sultan's golden sword, which was seized by the CBI in 1985 and which hit headlines after its alleged use in the teleserial Sword of Tipu Sultan in 1989, is back in the news. Relatives of the sword's original custodians and historians want to know the whereabouts of the sword as Tipu's bicentenary celebrations are due to begin at Srirangapattan next week.
Some historians, archaeologists and other experts believe that the sword is in the CBI's "safe" custody. They want it to be displayed for public viewing during the bicentenary celebrations.
A CBI team had raided the Nagalingaswamy math here in December 1995 and seized the sword after one of the math's trustees allegedly attempted to sell it to a foreigner.
It was then kept in the local archaeology department office. The department handed over the sword to the CBI following allegations that it had been used in the teleserial. The department maintained that the serial makers had only photographed the sword to make a replica.
However, N Shivanand, the grandson of Siddalinga Swamiji who headed the math when it was given the sword by the late Maharaja of Mysore after Independence, claims that the sword as well as several other artifacts such as golden palm leaves seized by the CBI are "missing". He demanded that the government should hand over the sword to the archaeology department for public display, pending the disposal of the case.
Deputy director of archaeology C S Patil said the sword seized by the CBI was one of the three used by Tipu. "One is on display at the Scottish United Service Museum in Edinburgh and another at the Royal Museum of London."
The third sword was the one which Tipu used to slash the thigh of Captain Woodhall who cut off all escape routes for the Sultan by resorting to heavy firing.
The sword was recovered from Tipu's hands after his death by Colonel Arthur Wellesly, who in turn, passed it on to Charles, the fourth Duke of Richmond.
Meanwhile, an official who was a witness to the seizure, said the sword was in the CBI's custody. He said it was up to the government to decide whether to display it during the bicentenary events.
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