Monday, 28 December 2020

Mendha Tope (cannon) and historical Daulatabad, Fort, India - why are they popular?


Mendha Tope (canon) Daulatabad, MH.India dreamstime.com

Mendha Tope (canon), Daulatabad,fort, MH. dreamstime.com

Above image:  Cannon with the rear end shaped like ram's head.  It  is believed to be the second largest cannon in India .....................

Aurangabad location map,Maharashtra. maps-india.com

In the battles fought centuries ago, the introduction of cannon had a big impact on the warring kingdoms  and it changed the fate of many of them and of the rulers. Because of its destructive power  and  diligent use in  the warfare their inclusion added a totally different dimension to the battles.  Consequently, cannons became an important section  of artillery both for offensive and defensive moves of the armies. With the advent of cannon, came different casting techniques,  design and construction of forged-welded iron cannons  and bronze cannons. The invention of  gunpowder ( a mix of saltpeter (potassium nitrate), phosphorous and charcoals  in China  roughly in the 9-10th century and  its propellant properties had a direct link with the growth of cannon and its wide use in the battles. 

Mendha Tope canon, Daulatatbad fort, MH dreamstime.com

The wide use of cannons as part of artillery by the Mogul rulers of Delhi both for the defense of fort and on the battle ground   made them a force to reckon with in the Indian subcontinent. Deployment of cannons at vantage points on the forts had become a regular feature. So are the inclusion of  a variety of cannons, rockets and also mines with better gunpowder technology,in the  Mogul artillery. It was artillery that had a major role  in the establishment of the Mogul Empire and their subsequent victories in various battles. In the First Battle of Panipat of 1526  Babur's decisive victory was  assured by the successful guidance  of Ottoman gun master Ustad Ali Quli, Artillery power established his supremacy. 

Mendha Tope canon,  Daulatatbad fort, MH dreamstime.com

Among the cannons produced in India prior to 15th century  the ones   found in the Daulatabad  Fort (also known as Devagiri) a 14th-century structure, are quite interesting.  This fort on a hill  in the Aurangabad district of Maharashtra has produced as many as  288  heavy cannons capable of targeting wide and long ranges. They had a long reach as well  because of their effective fire power. This  fort had a chequired history, ruled many dynasties over a long period of time. 

Mendha Tope cannon,Daulatatbad fort  trekearth.com

Above image: This cannon's weight is about 14 tons. It has a firing range of 9 kms.;Daulatabad, also known as Devagiri a 14th-century fort 

Daulatatbad fort  has many interesting features, artifacts, cannons of different sizes, of weight and of  metallic compositions - iron, cast-iron, bronze, etc.  Among them,  the Mendha Tope  will  never fail to get attention of the visitors as well as research scholars  who study the composition of the alloys used in them, medieval cannon technology their mechanism of transport to higher grounds, etc. The cannon's rear  head  is  cast  in the   form of a ram’s head. The cannons have two  engravings n the sleeves - one is that of Emperor Aurangzeb and the other being  the name of  an Arab artisan  who made it - Muhammad Hussain whose specialty  was  cannon making.  Historians believe that since this cannon belonged to the Mogul ruler,  his name was engraved on it as a mark of  his '' ownership''  The exact inscription reads thus, ‘Abul Zafar Muhiuddin Muhammad Aurangzeb Bahadur Alamgir Badshah Gazi’. There is an inscription from Holy Quran toward the mouth of this cannon.

 Brass cannon,Daulatatbad fort,IndiaAlamy.com
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In the Marathi language'' Mendha'' means  ram and ''Tope'' means cannon. The  ram's head in the rear is  a unique feature of this powerful cannon. Besides its amazing  shock-absorbing system is a surprise and indicates advanced cannon technology in that period.  The cannon can  be rotated 180 degrees to aim the target away from the fort, covering a wide range of field for firing. This capability will  render the enemy on the offensive powerless  to target their fire power towards the fort.  Believed to be  the second  largest cannon in India made of special alloy to resist heat, it is said to be designed in Afghanistan
 
MendhaTope cannon,Daulatatbad  tombell.net

People interested in the study of  age old cannons come to the  Daulatabad fort  that it has the largest number of cannons. In the Indian subcontinent, the finest cannons  were made, particularly, in the Deccan region. The conical-shaped hill fort of Daulatabad, contributed the most in the area of use of cannons in the battles. In addition to  Mendha cannon,  there are two more cannons Kala Pahad Cannon and Durga Cannon.

researchgate.net

Above image: The Daulatabad Fort near Aurangabad, Maharashtra state, India  has the largest number of cannons of various  designs and sizes. They are: (a) cast bronze cannon of European origin and Indian (b) bronze and (c) iron guns. There are also bimetallic cannons with bronze/copper barrel and inner iron sleeve: (d)-(f). Examples of such bimetallic guns: (d) unmarked gun in front of the museum, (e) Shri Durga cannon (placed on a platform on top of Daulatabad hills), (f) Mendha cannon (on an elevated/circular platform between Chini Mahal and Rang Mahal). (d)  inner iron sleeve, with names  inscribed  in Sanskrit (Devnagri) and Persian, respectively, on (e) Shri Durga and (f) Mendha

Tit-Bits:
The Daulatabad Fort,Aurangabad, India gosahin.com

Above image: The Daulatabad Fort (9 to 14th century CE), near Aurangabad, Maharashtra on a hill (200 meters tall) was  built in 1187 by the first ruler of the Yadhava Dynasty - Billama. One of the strongest forts in India  it  came under under  many dynasties over a period of time.Earlier Daulatabad was known as Devagiri or Deogiri. In. 1308, Sultan Alauddin Khalji of the Delhi Sultanate captured and looted vast  treasures. By 1633 when  under the Mogul rule. Aurangzeb took control of the fortin his period he had a huge canon installed to improve its defense. It is called ''Mendha Tope.