Malik-e-Maidan Tope, largest old cannon then on earth, Bijapur, Karnataka

55 ton gun. Malik-e-Maidan tope, Bijapur /

Machine Gun, Malik Maidan tof, Bijapur

In the medieval and later periods, cannons and guns played a great role in wars between Indian rulers and in many cases, more than strategy, fire power decided the fate of a ruler and his victory. When the British East India company in the 18th century became a force to reckon with, they gradually introduced powerful cannons and weapons. Their firepower was far superior  than Indian rulers, with which they threatened the Indian rulers and over a period of time established their hegemony.

Machine Gun, Malik Maidan tof, Bijapur

Both Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh  and northern part of Karnataka were known to have produced fine, powerful cannons centuries ago  to face the  enemies from the north and north west. The rulers of Bengal had excellent foundries where they could make powerful guns to use them against other rulers and the English company which frequently violated trade agreements with them. So, possessing powerful cannons and guns was more an asset than a liability because they acted as deterrents in case of enemy  invasions.

Bijapur, Karnataka.  maps of India

 Bijapur city, Karnataka  is a tourist paradise where the visitors can see a variety of historical buildings, mostly  built in Indo-Islamic style. The Sultanate was ruled by Muslims who belonged to Shia sect. There are other attraction as well. The one that is worthy of mention is the gun - Malik-e-Maidan or Muluk-e-Maidan meaning ''the Monarch of the Plains''.

Machine Gun, Malik Maidan tof, Bijapur

 Above image:  The "Malik-i-Maidan" (Master of the Field) cannon, stated to be the largest piece of cast bronze ordnance in the world, was utilized by the Deccan Sultanates during the Battle of Talikota (1565). It was provided by Ali Adil Shah I (Bijapur Sultanate) ...................................................

Malik-e-Maidan Tope  is believed to be the  biggest old gun on  earth Weighing 55 tons,  4 m in length and  1.5 m wide; it is on the Sherza Burj (Lion Gate), Bijapur fort.  The  diameter of the bore is approximately 15 inches. It means the blast from the gun was heavy.  The gag/spout of the gun has formed  a lion head with open jaws, and between the jaws are engraved elephants to make it resemble the lion is eating up the elephant.  The eyes and whiskers   nostril and the ears of the lion are well highlighted.  This famous gun arrived from  Ahmadnagar in  the seventeenth century as a  war trophy.

Transporting the huge gun posed a big problem and at last it reached the present site drawn by ten elephants, 400 bulls and numerous men. It is said they brought two huge guns and one was stuck in the river bed when crossing it. When in use, the cannon was mounted on a swivel mechanism which allowed it to turn 180 degrees. To prevent accidental firing toward Bijapur,  massive walls on the rear side were  built as a precaution.  As the cannon  was capable of generating unbearable  loud noise and heat, the gunner, upon lighting  the fuse,  had to submerge himself in a nearby water tank to avoid injuries  The water tank can be seen even to day, but it is covered.
Carving on Malik Maidan , Bijapur.fort

Ibrahim Adil Shah II  had this huge gun Malik-e-Maidan  set  on the highest point of the tower  in the  Bijapur Fort between two bastions on the west mainly to defend the fort against  the mighty Maratha army.  The gun is made of an alloy of five metals including copper, iron and tin and this combination makes it strong, rust-proof, besides the surface  has a green sheen and does not get hot under the scorching sun. When striking, it produces peculiar sound. With Arabic and Persian inscription on it, it is mentioned that  this gun was cast in Ahmednagar  in the 17th century or prior to that.

Malik-e-Maidan tope, Bijapur, Persian  inscription

Malik-e-Maidan Tope (Tof),  during a major war against the mighty Vijayanagara rulers at Talikote in the year January 1565, played no less role on the battle field. Being one of the largest artillery in the world, its fire power was a menace to the equally strong Vijayanagara army.  The outcome of the war  was the end of Vijayanagar empire  and the great dynasty. Yet another reason was the betrayal of  two Muslim commanders (Gilani Brothers) in the Vijayanagara army who suddenly turned against the Vijayanagara kings.
 Bidar fort, Basavakalyan Fort, etc  Karnataka. have  good collection of cannons.