Chinese are generally credited with the first use of rockets. However, Tipu Sultan (the Tiger of Mysore) is the first person to have used rockets for the purpose of warfare. The rockets used by in Mysore were far more advanced than those used for the purpose of entratainment as fireworks. These rockets were superior in that they used iron tubes for holding the propellant.We could as well see this as the birth of the modern rocket launcher. The use of metal provided higher bursting power leading to longer range.The Rocket Court-Srirangapatna.
Refrences can be found to prove the use of rockets in the battle of Pollilur (1780) in which the Britishwere defeated - a scene celebrated on the walls of Darya Daulat in Srirangapatna - a strong contributory cause is thought to have been the explosion of Colo Baillie’s ammunitiontumbrils, touched off by Mysore rockets. It is interesting to note that no other armies seem to have used rockets at this period or just prior to that. Where the Mysore rockets simply modifications of the cannon ball?Certainly not as can be seen by the Interest of the British in Mysore rockets.These were different in that they were not accompanied by the recoil as in a cannon.
Thanks to the interest of the British in these rockets, they were studied more scientifically!! The industrial revolution provided the tools and materials needed to further the development of rockets. William Congreve was given the job of improving the range of the rockets for possible use against the French. However, it was as late as the end of second world war that Rockets were used as effective weapons.
Rockets were also used in the 3rd and 4th Anglo-Mysore Wars as well; although they caused much confusion and fear especially when used against massed troops or cavalry, they were too inaccurate to tilt decisively the fortunes of battle in favour of Tipu. The Galaxy bazzar (Taramandal Pet) is the place were the rockets and fireworks were manufactured.These rockets are supposed to have consisted of bamboo poles with sharp ends.
The sorry state of affairs is that the only specimen of the Mysore rockets used by Tipu Sultan is in London in the Royal artillery museum .The Rocket court in Srirangapatnam now lies in ruins, being used as a public toilet.Its indeed worth investigating the origins of the rockets in India prior to the Mysore Rockets. The fate of rockets in Mysore seems to have suffered the same fate as rest of the scientific and technical developments in British India.
The recent interest in the rockets of Mysore was stimulated by our Honourable President APJ Abdul Kalam. In his book "Wings of Fire" he mentions, how he saw the picture of the Mysore's Rocket war in NASA. The fact that today India is not inferior to any other nation in its potential to develop and launch rockets is very reassuring. The Tiger of Mysore, Tipu Sultan would have indeed felt proud of this fact.