This iconic cannon in Mumbai is worshiped as a deity

This iconic cannon in Mumbai is worshiped as a deity

Locals of Mandvi Koliwada and neighbouring areas worship a half-buried canon with the cascabel at the top

Cannons seen at the Mantralaya. Credit: Mrityunjay Bose

Mumbai is known to throw up surprises, this time it is with a temple in the Carnac Bunder off the Mandvi-Masjid Bunder in south Mumbai, where cannons are worshipped as a deity.

Locals of Mandvi Koliwada and neighbouring areas worship the half-buried canon with the cascabel at the top and cemented into a small temple. People apply vermilion, incense sticks, flowers and even garland it.

“Mumbai being an important city at one point of time had several cannons…in recent years, we have documented 27 cannons. We have to preserve the rich heritage. Few lucky ones are adorned as bollards, trophies, decoration of traffic islands and are even objects of worship,” says Dr Tejas Garge, Director of Directorate of Archaeology and Museums of the Maharashtra government. He added that they have to be protected from natural hazard and human vandalism

A session titled ‘Cannons of Mumbai: Story of the Lost Cannons of Mumbai’ was hosted by the Maritime Mumbai Museum Society in collaboration with the Museum Society of Mumbai, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya and Bombay Local History Society on Sunday.

Of the 27 cannons documented in the city, 10 are off the porch of Mantralaya, the state secretariat in Mumbai, four in the Mumbai Museum, three at Carnac Bunder, two in Elephanta Island, two at Gateway of India, two at Cross Maidan, two in Wadala, one at the Taj Mahal Hotel and one at the Archaeology and Museums Directorate.

The two cannons at Gateway of India are unique and largely go unnoticed. “These are used as bollards where the ships’ rope are secured,” he said. 

“The cannons speak a lot about the establishment of colonial rule in India and the shoreline defence strategies from the 16th to 20th centuries,” he said.

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