Iron Power – India’s Biggest Cannon 

Iron Power – India’s Biggest Cannon 

One of the metallurgical wonders of India and a masterpiece of medieval weaponry this great cannon of Bijapur is still called the Malik-i-Maidan or the ‘Lord of the Battlefield’.

Weighing a whopping 55 tons, the massive cannon is 8.5 meters long and 1.5 meters in diameter. The muzzle of the cannon is shaped like a lion or a dragon swallowing an elephant in its jaws.

This cannon played a very important role in the Battle of Talikota which sounded the death knell of the great Vijayanagara empire in 1565.

The inscription on the gun states that the gun was cast in Ahmednagar in 1549 by Muhammad bin Hasan Rumi, a Turkish officer in the service of the Nizam Shahi ruler.

It is difficult to ascertain how it passed from Ahmadnagar to Bijapur. One account states that the gun was acquired when Adilshahi forces captured the strategically important fort of Kalyani in 1562. It was brought to Bijapur and mounted on the Sharza Burj or the Lion Bastion. According to Busatin-i-Salatin, a book on the history of the Bijapur Sultanate written by Persian writer Mirza Zuberi, the cannon played a very important role in the battle of Talikota which sounded the death knell of the great Vijayanagara empire in 1565.

In 1686, when Auranzeb captured Bijapur, he had a Persian inscription carved on to the cannon to mark his victory. The inscription read “He (Aurangzeb) had subdued the master of the battlefield”.

The British were very keen to move the cannon to England as a trophy. There were several proposals made to this effect, but in 1852, directors of the East India Company negated the proposals as they felt that the sheer human effort, and the cost of £3,000 required to transport it to England, was too steep a price to pay!

Today, Mailk-i-Maidan still occupies a place of pride on Sharza Burj in Bijapur.

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The mouth of the cannon depicting an elephant being swallowed!  | Wikimedia Commons

LHI TRAVEL GUIDE

Bijapur Railway station is well connected to many cities by rail and the canons are 3 kms away from the railway station. However, Bijapur does not have an airport. Belgaum is the nearest domestic airport to Bijapur. It is located at a distance of around 210 kms from Bijapur.

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