Kim's Gun

As you walk east on the Upper Mall (Shahrah-e-Quaid-e-Azam) towards the National College of Arts, an object of much historical interest is the Zamzamah.

Cast in Lahore in 1757, the gun was considered "terrible as a dragon and huge as a mountain," and was "a destroyer even of the strongholds of heaven." It was fabricated on the orders of the 'Conqueror of Thrones' Ahmed Shah Durrani (Abdali) by prime minister Shah Wali Khan, who "called together a number of master workmen" until, as the Persian inscription notes, with their consummate skill, "was cast this wondrous gun Zamzamah". Made out of metal vessels extracted from the local Hindu population of Lahore as tribute, Ahmed Shah employed it to win the battle of Panipat in 1761.

When returning to Kabul, because of its cumbersome size and transportation problems, Ahmed Shah had to leave the Zamzama gun in Lahore in the custody of his Afghan governor, Khwaja Ubaid. A year later (in 1762), along with other war booty, the gun was captured from Khwaja Ubaid by Hari Singh Bhangi—and was named Bhangi Top after the victor. First quartered in the Shah Burj in Lahore fort until 1762, it was taken to Gujranwala Fort by the Sukerchakia chief Charat Singh, who had claimed it as his share in the conquest of Lahore from the other two Sikh triumvirate members. Several wars later, and after having done the rounds of Ahmed Nagar, Gujrat, Rasul Nagar and Amritsar, in 1802 the gun was captured by Ranjit Singh after he had expelled the Bhangis from Amritsar. Considered a good luck talisman by the Sikh ruler, he utilized it to win many campaigns until the gun was seriously damaged in the siege of Multan in 1818. Declared unfit for service it was placed at the Delhi Gate of Lahore's Walled City. According to the 19th century historian Latif, it was moved to the present location on the occasion of the visit of the Duke of Edinburgh in February 1870. The present platform was erected almost a century later, when the refurbished gun was placed here in 1978, along with a plaque which relates its history compiled by historian Dr. M. Baqir.

The gun is 14 feet and 4 ½ inches long with the bore aperture of 9 ½ inches. It is one of the largest specimens of casting in the Subcontinent and is made of an alloy of copper and brass. Immortalized by Rudyard Kipping in his accounts, this famous gun is now popularly known as the Kim's Gun. "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”…Kim, Rudyard Kipling.

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