Monday 22 April 2013

The cannon which induced women to give birth to children prematurely

When fired and it was fired only once, the sound was so deafening that several pregnant women gave birth. Since then, this piece of engineering marvel is called as Bacchawali Tope  which when translated means “The cannon which produces child birth”.
This is a cannon in Murshidabad town of West Bengal. The cannon lies in the Nizamat fort campus on the garden space between the Nizamat Imambara and Hazariduari Palace or the palace of a thousand doors.
The cannon is to located east of the old Madina Mosque and it consists of two pieces and each piece is of a different diameter. The cannon was cast between the 12th and 14th century and local historian ascribe it to the Mohammadan rulers of Gaur.
The cannon initially lay on the sand banks of Ichaganj but there is no record of why and how it came to be placed in Ichaganj.
Subsequently, it was shifted to Murshidabad and the rulers used it to prevent attacks on the city from the north-west.
When a fire broke out in Nizamat Imambara in 1846, a new Imambara was built and the cannon was then shifted to its present location by Sadeq Ali Khan, the architect of the Imambara. It was  Sir Henry Torrens, the then agent of the Governor General at Murshidabad, who suggested to the Nawab that the cannon be shifted to its present place.
The sound of the gunfire from the cannon is so loud that it can be heard within a radius of about 10 miles. The cannon stands on a five feet pedestal.
Of the two parts of the cannon, the chamber, which is the smaller portion, is 3ft. 7in. long with a girth of 4ft 4in. The larger portion, which mainly consists of the barrel is 11ft 6in. long with a girth at the middle of 7ft 9in. The diameter of the muzzle is 1 foot and 7 inches. The barrel, made of wrought iron has eleven rings fixed on it.
The rim of the muzzle is decorated with petal designs, while one of the rings resembles a string of beads. On the upper half of the barrel surface, near the muzzle are inscribed fourteen lines, 7 on each side, are inlaid with brass. Eight smaller rings are attached to the cannon at various points. The breach plug is driven until its chambered end dovetails and fits tightly into the chamber of the barrel, which are tied together with the rings attached to each. The canon weighs around 16880 pounds or 7657 Kg. The canon requires 18 kilograms of gun powder for a single shelling. 
Nizamat Imambara

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