Mogul ruler Aurangzeb's most powerful cannon ‘Haibat i Mulk at Nagpur Raj Bhavan

With more raids by rebel rulers centuries ago, the kings and nawabs of India  were preoccupied with  many military defensive features when building a formidable fort.  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. The credit goes to  Babur from 1526 to 1530, the founder of the Mogul empire in the Indian subcontinent for the  introduction of artillery in India, in the Battle of Panipat in 1526. Here  as part of military strategy, he decisively first used gunpowder firearms and field artillery and  his right war strategy resulted in the defeat of the much larger army of Ibrahim Lodhi (1480 – 2 April 1526)  last Sultan of the Delhi Sultanate. Babur employed guns capable of firing cannonballs weighing between 225 and 315 lb (102 and 143 kg) against a 1527 siege, and had previously employed a cannon capable of firing a 540 lb (240 kg) stone ball.

Mogul ruler Aurangzeb's cannons installed atop Petla Burj, Golconda Fort, Hyderabad after the fort had come under his control. highlight the technically better bronze cannon manufacturing technology, the forte of the Mughal artillery power during his time. 

Aurangzeb' most powerful cannon.

Above image: The length of the barrel, from muzzle opening to the breech is 12 feet and its bore stands at 8.5 inches. Its caliber was larger and length much more than that of 68 British pounder which was in  service then with the British army.

A seven-tonne cannon with amazing firing power belonging to Aurangzeb’s army has been at at Nagpur city's  Raj Bhavan (Governor's. Residence) since the colonial time. Considering it as part of the heritage of the city like the Raj Bhavan building, it has grabbed the attention of the  historians and heritage enthusiasts.

Known as Mulk Haibat’ meaning  terror of the country it once belonged to Aurangzeb’s army.  Aurangzeb, during his war campaigns commanded by himself, used to take some of the powerful cannons  and experienced gunners as the artillery power was effective to subdue the enemy. Particularly where he ordered for a siege on the  strong fort, he relied on the powerful cannons to fire heavy projectiles. In his long siege on the Golconda fort, Hyderabad, Deccan  under the Qutub Shahi Sultans at last he relied on the heavy bronze  cannon, Fatah Rahbhar (weighing 16 tons plus). 

Mulk Haibat cannon was installed at Nagpur city's  Raj Bhavan (Gov. Res). Present day Raj Bhavan, a  colonial building built in 1891 by the British Crown , was once the residence of the commissioner of erstwhile Central Provinces of which Nagpur was the capital.The  artillery gun remains and continues to be the p:rized possession of the Raj Bhavan. The Elephant-head Bronze Gun:t  The largest and most beautiful gun at Raj Bhavan cast in the form of an elephant head. 

From the inscription on the on the gun the name of the gun is ‘Haibat i Mulk meaning ‘Terror/Fear of the Country’. Made by one Muhammad Hussain Arab at Burhanpur in 1663 for Aurangzeb. .The inner core of the gun is made of iron strips forged lengthwise and over it the outer bronze thick cover is cast. These iron strips can be seen from the mouth of the muzzle of the gun. The gun is mounted on a  platform of sandstone.The diameter of bore is 8 ¾ +/- ¼ inches, the length of gun from muzzle to breech is 132 inches and the length of the cascable is 21 inch.

A British magazine noted Mulk Haibat  is a  magnificent specimen of native gun casting technique. Produced  in Burhanpur in 1663. It is made of a gunmetal containing large portion of copper  ashtadhatu a composition of eight metals including gold and silver.

An interesting feature is  the gun has Aurangzeb’s seal with his full title Abul Muzaffa ar Mohiuddin Mohammed Aurangzeb Shah Ghazi.

An inscription reads: “When the sparks of sorrow issue form life deserts the body as grief falls on the world when flames emerge from the fiery zone”. The gun's capability is such that it  could fire a cannon ball of 35 sers (old measure) with 12 sers of gunpowder equal to 47 kg .