“In one shot, it could kill hundreds of people. The nawab used it for killing the invaders, however it was too heavy to carry and was not used much in the war”. I was surprised and took it with a pinch of salt. One Canon can be heavy but in one shot, it will kill hundreds? I had questions but I didn’t want to interrupt. Often these local guides have a different version of truth which is not researched, not documented in the history books but what has been passed on to them over the years. I have always been fascinated with this version – who knows, there may be some unknown facts hidden in the middle of the stories.
He keeps saying “it was not used for years and one day Nawab decided to get it transferred from Murshidabad to another location. On the way, the wheels of the carriage broke down and the canon fell on the ground. No one could lift it up again as it was very heavy. A big Bo-tree (peepal) hugged the canon with all its roots and started growing around it. Even the tree knew that the canon was the saver of Murshidabad and leaving it would not be a prudent decision. Since then, the bo-tree saved the canon and did not allow anyone to take it away for years. Finally, a stage has been made for the abandoned canon and it was placed there permanently”
Well, you won’t have to believe the entire story. But some of them are real facts. The canon could indeed kill hundreds of people in one shot. It used 30 kg of gunpowder for each shot. It weighs around 8 tons and is 17.5 ft long. That should give you some idea on how big it is and how destructive it was.
It was indeed found intertwined within the roots of a Peepal tree. It was built by the famous blacksmith of Bengal – Janardan Karmakar during the reign of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan on 1637. Due to its destructive power, it was known as Jahan Kosha – “The destroyer of the world”. The great Nawab of Bengal, Murshidkuli Khan brought this while he was transferring his capital from Dhaka to Murshidabad. For last 370 + years, it has been lying in the air and has seen so many seasons but there is still no rust on it. It still stands – being a testimony to the technological excellence developed during the golden period of Bengal.
It is easy to reach – within 4 hours from Kolkata. You take a morning train and reach Murshidabad by 11. Get in a hotel and in the afternoon, take a horse cart and reach Jahan Kosha within 20 minutes or so. It is worth giving some time – but only if you are interested in history.
There is only one other similar canon of this type – the Dalmadal in Bishnupur. I have not seen it yet – may be a target for 2012.