Beerangi Medu Thanjavur where Nayak era powerful cannon is placed, will be repaired soon.Govt..granted funds

 Thanjavur corporation of Tamil nadu, during the British rule was the capital of the the composite Tanjore District (then comprising Thanjavur, Tiruvarur, Nagapattinam, Mayiladuthurai and part of Pudukkottai districts), was one of the oldest towns in the subcontinent. Being a delta region in the Madras Presidency,  it was known as the granary of south India.  Ruled by the Chola, Nayak and finally the Maratha dynasties, Thanjavur has many heritage temples and historical structures. 

The major attractions  in this city are  the Brihadeeswara temple dedicated to God Shiva, built by the great Chola king Rajaraja in 1010 CE  (a UNESCO recognized  world heritage site)  and the palace  complex  including the world famous Saraswati Mahal Library (storing countless rare books and palm leaf manuscripts in some languages) The palace was originally constructed by the rulers of Thanjavur Nayak kingdom with a fort covering the main town. Later the town and the palace were developed by the the Bhonsle family of the Maratha dynasty that ruled Tanjore from 1674 to 1855.  Because of poor publicity and lack of upkeep, tourists never visit what is called Beerangi Medu, close to the main palace complex on the East main street.   

Rajagopalaswamy beerangi, Thanjavur

Rajagopalaswamy beerangi, Thanjavur

Beerangi Medu literally meaning  elevated area  for the cannon (in Tamil Beerangi meaning cannon; Medu meaning elevated place) is a heritage site. It is  on the East Rampart -Keela Alankam , in the Kendirajapalayam area  close to the East gate bazaar and  Vellai Pillayar Kovil; the site is under the control of the ASI  Archaeological Survey of India. 

Raja Gopalaswami beerangi - cannon, ThanjavurTN.

It is here the famous Tanjore Cannon (also known as Rajagopala Beerangi) made of forge-welded iron with numerous rings is installed atop a remnant  of an old fort  facing  the road  The main  East  gate is no longer there. The cannon atop the old fort is said to have been made during the period of  Raghunatha Nayak (1600-1645 CE). The 25ft tall structure  where 25 ft long 22 to 25  ton cannon is placed facing the East rampart,  would have been part of the Bastian of the old Nayak fort to guard against enemy intrusion. To access the upper part of the fort, broad  masonry  stairway would have come up in the early part of the 20th century. The entire tall  structure with thick wall  is made of brick lime mortar with dressed laterite stones

The top of the a small portion of the fort can only be accessed  through  a  flight of  broad steps where the cannon is kept.  For several  decades, the cannon has been in the same place as projected in  old images.  Now, close to the listed ASI heritage site several buildings-mostly houses have come up in violation of  Heritage and Monument laws hiding  the view of the tower with cannon from the distance.  In the recent past, this site was not well maintained by the ASI and the local administration. Several years ago INTACH (Thanjavur chapter)  took serious step to popularise the Rajagopala beerangi and  what is left of the old fort. This place still remains unbarricaded and unrepaired.  As there is no cover over the cannon, both the cannon  and the top  open terrace along with side parapet walls need to be protected  against rain and sunshine that may affect the structural stability of the elevated structure.  This monument has not seen fresh coat of white wash for several years.  

Flight of steps to reach Tanjore cannon, Thanjavur.
The Beerangi Medu stairway to  the terrace and the cannon atop require periodic repair and this listed heritage site in the center of Thanjavur  can be made a tourist spot. On a few visits to this place during my elementary school days in the early 1950s, from the top  I could see a vista of the town all around - the palace complex with the Sarja madi (seven-floor structure, arsenal tower, etc., on the west  as well as  the impressive red colored Ranee's  clock tower  at the corner of Gandhiji road and Hospital road. There were no buildings nearby. Nor were there any encroachments close to the heritage site.  This place turned sour and lost its value after 1968. Since then lots of encroachments had taken place  despite   warning board put up by the government at the entrance . As per the ''Ancient Monuments and Remains (Amendment and Validation) Act 2010, whoever destroys, removes, injures, alters, defaces or misuses this monument, shall be punishable with imprisonment up to two years or with fine up to Rs one lakh or with both”.
I am glad the the government has planned to renovate the site soon and Rs.21 lakhs has been set aside for this purpose (vide Daily Thanthi