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A five-metal, 6-metre cannon, engraved with Emperor Aurangzeb's name at Daulatabad Fort, Maharashtra

November 2, 2021
Mirza Firuz Shah
Aurangzeb 1658–1707

A five-metal, 6-metre cannon, engraved with Emperor Aurangzeb's name at Daulatabad Fort, Maharashtra



Artillery, records point out, was not widely employed in Central Asia prior to the 16th century. That how canons were introduced in the Hindustan sub continent is still a puzzle and experts are in a fix about it.  Hindustan  artillery  played an  important part of the Mogul military, both in the battle field and  in defense of forts. Deployment of canons at vantage points on the forts had become a regular feature. Mogul artillery included a variety of cannons, rockets and also mines with better gunpowder technology.

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 under the successful guidance  of Ottoman gun master Ustad Ali Quli, Emperor Babur  successfully used the artillery and won the battle against Ibrahim Lodi of Delhi. Introduction of artillery on a large scale saw the end of elephant warfare as a  primary offensive strategy in Hindustan as the pachyderms panicked, facing the fire and sound.

The main bottleneck in the use of artillery in the battle field was transportation. Transporting heavy canons across a variety of terrains was a tough one. Mostly sturdy bulls and elephants were employed for this purpose. During the reign of Akbar much improvements were made in the use of cannons.

The 12th century  Daulatabad Fort, near Aurangabad, Maharastra on a hill built by Yadav general Raja Bhillamra, is one of the strongest forts in India controlled by many dynasties over a period of time. Initially it was under the Yadav Dynasty and previously Daulatabad was known as Devagiri or Deogiri. By 1633 it came under Mogul rule. Aurangazeb took control of the fort and during his period he had a huge canon installed to improve its defense.

An interesting feature about this canon is, it has an excellent shock-absorbing system and can be rotated 180 degrees to aim the target. Thus it covers a wide range of field for firing and it is absolutely difficult for the enemy to target their fire power towards the fort. Designed in  Afghanistan, it is the second largest canon in India made of special alloy.

Two engravings are found on the gun – one  is that of Emperor Aurangzeb and the other name is of Muhammad Hussain Arab, the artisan who created it. Experts believe Aurangazeb’s name is engraved because he owned it.

The cannons in the Daulatabad Fort forms 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.

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.

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Ismail Mazari

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Very good information.


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