Thursday, June 3, 2010

Zamzamma – Kim’s Gun or Bhangian di Tope

On 24 December 1960, Pakistan issued a commemorative stamp (above top right with the the Zamzamma Gun in the background) with a face value of 2 Ana to mark the third Pakistan Boy Scout Jamboree held at Lahore. The stamp bore the photo of the famous gun “Zamzamma”, now placed on the Mall Road, in front of the National College of Arts, Lahore. The gun has a long interesting history that has changed hands many a times till its final resting place as of today.

This 18th century heavy artillery gun was manufactured on the orders of Afghan King Ahmed Shah Abdali in 1757. It is said that the people of Lahore were asked to give their kitchen utensils for the cauldron. The gun was used for over 100 years. Ahmad Shah Abdali used these guns against the Marathas in the Third Battle of Panipat (1761 AD). After the battle, due to the lack of suitable means of transportation, he left the Zamzamma gun with Khwaja Ubaid, the Governor of Lahore. In 1762 AD, Hari Singh Bhangi, attacked the territories of the Khwaja and seized the Zamzama. It then changed many a hands and in 1802, Ranjit Singh, after defeating the Bhangis, got hold of the gun. He used it in the battles of Daska, Kasur, Sujanpur, Wazirabad and Multan.

In the siege of Multan, the gun was badly damaged and was removed to Lahore and decommissioned from the service. From 1818 to 1870, it was placed outside the Delhi Gate. For its prolonged possession with the Bhangi Sikhs, the gun came to be called as "Bhangian-di-Tope", the gun of the Bhangis.

In the British ruled era of the Indo-Pakistan subcontinent, the gun came into the possession of the British. From Dehli Gate, it was removed to be placed in front of "Exhibition Hall" (present day Tollington Market). With completion of Jubilee Building of central museum of Lahore, it was moved a few yards up the "Exhibition Road". When the Duke of Edinburgh visited Lahore in February, 1870, the gun was placed opposite to the gate of the museum where it rests to date.

The famous British writer Rudyard Kipling would often sit and relax by the side of the gun and recall his memories of his stay in India. "Who hold Zam-Zammah, that fire-breathing dragon', hold the Punjab; for the great green-bronze piece is always first of the conqueror's loot" wrote Rudyard Kipling. Thus the gun came to be known as the Kim's gun.

Next time you are visiting Lahore, don’t miss to see this fine piece of artillery – finally resting peacefully after spitting fire and hell for over a century.

Read More:
Zamzamma (Pakistanpaedia)


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