Maha: Daulatabad Fort puts cannons under spotlight

Maharashtra's Daulatabad Fort puts cannons in perspective

Mendha tope (File Pics: Mrityunjay Bose)

Cannons have changed the course of global history, and of course, India's past as well.

But, where to look for cannons of the medieval era?

The cannons in the Daulatabad Fort forms is one of the perfect places to study cannons and its relevance in the sub-continent, particularly in the Deccan region.

The conical-shape hill fort of Daulatabad, earlier known as Devagiri or Deogiri, is located in the Aurangabad district of Maharashtra.

"There are 288 cannons in Daulatabad Fort," said Dr Tejas Garge, Director, Directorate of Archaeology & Museums, Government of Maharashtra.

In the sixth century, Daulatabad was part of the caravan routes.

Deogiri, also known as the 'Hill of Gods' to Daulatabad and the 'Abode of Wealth', has changed hands multiple times.

At a webinar 'History of Gunnery in India',  hosted by the Sadhana Education Society's L S Raheja College of Arts & Commerce, Santacruz, Dr Garge said that Deccan was ruled by many dynasties that shaped the Indian history.

These include Mauryans, Satvahanas, Vakatakas, Chalukyas, Pallavas, Rashtrakutas, Cholas, Kakatiyas, Vijayanagara, Khiljis, Tuglaqs, Bahmanis, Nizamshahis, Mughals and Marathas.

Impregnable by military standards and an example of strategic planning, the fort falls between Aurangabad city and Ellora Caves, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, featuring Buddhist, Jain and Hindu monuments.

"The cannons here are unique. There are various types of cannons,  size and shapes," said Dr Garge.

One of the famous cannons is the Mendha Tope.

"The Qila Shikan or Breaker of Forts or Mendha tope was made by Muhammed Hussain Arab. Aurangazeb’s name is engraved as ‘Abul Zafar Muhiuddin Muhammad Aurangzeb Bahadur Alamgir Badshah Gazi’. It’s a composite cannon.

This too was one of the most effective cannons. The cascabel is in form of a ram and hence the name Mendha tope," he said, adding that it has a barrel of wrought iron and casing of bronze. "In fact, Emperor Aurangazeb had used such cannons," he pointed out.

Another cannon bears three inscriptions in Persian,  one being the title 'Dara Shukoh Shah-I-Baland-Iqbal'.  "This was Emperor Shah Jahan' son and Aurangzeb's brother Darah Shukoh. The name of manufacturer Muhhmad Hussain is also seen," he said.

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