Mumbai: British era cannons to be part of public's morning visits to Raj Bhavan

Updated: Jul 24, 2019, 07:59 IST | Hemal Ashar

Two British era cannons installed prominently at Governor's House will be part of public's morning visits to Raj Bhavan, re-starting post monsoon this October

Mumbai: British era cannons to be part of public's morning visits to Raj Bhavan
The cannon has been lifted and placed on the platform

It took five hours to shift two 22-tonne-each, (which is 22,000 kilograms) British era cannons from the Governor's home lawns (Raj Bhavan at Walkeshwar) to two specially created platforms outside the Jal Vihar (Banquet Hall) of the Raj Bhavan.

The strategic placement of the cannons will enable the Heads of State, Heads of Government and other visitors to Raj Bhavan to see the ammunition of a bygone era. A Raj Bhavan spokesperson said, "Though not visible to the general public currently, these will be accessible for viewing to those who book the morning tours to Raj Bhavan once they start again after the monsoon in October."

The cannon outside the banquet hall
The cannon outside the banquet hall

Heavyweight treasures

These cannons, which date back to the 1860s to the 1880s were found in a neglected state last year during a tree plantation drive at the foothills of Raj Bhavan. The spokesperson said, "People who were part of the tree plantation drive spotted the cannons lying abandoned and informed the Raj Bhavan. We deployed massive cranes to lift them and for a few months they were placed temporarily on the lawns in the Raj Bhavan complex."

Umesh Kashikar, Public Relations Officer (PRO) to the Raj Bhavan, said, "The cannons were given an anti-oxidising treatment to prevent rusting, as advised by Governor Ch. Vidyasagar Rao." Kashikar added, "It was such a challenge rolling them over for polishing. While this was on, two platforms made of stone and cement, with sufficient load bearing capacity were created for mounting the cannons outside the Banquet Hall."

Both the cannons
Both the cannons

Kashikar said there are two cannon mounts, too, buried beneath the helipad at Raj Bhavan. "Cannons were placed on mounts when they were in use and the cannons were rotated in different directions to fire."

Slice of history

According to the information furnished by defence personnel to the office of the Governor, such guns were designed for British battleships and monitors in the 1860s to 1880s. They were also used for fixed coastal defences until the early years of the 20th Century. The gun's primary ammunition was "Palliser" shot or shell, an early armour-piercing projectile for attacking armoured warships. The shell could be fired up to a maximum firing range of 5,500 m, with each shell weighing 400 to 410 pounds.

It is understood from history that from the late 18th to early 20th Century, Mumbai was under a planned development of coastal batteries. The batteries were located at Mahalaxmi, Malabar Point, Colaba, Oyster Rock, Middle Ground and Cross Island. According to defence experts, the cannons found at Raj Bhavan are probably part of this chain of batteries.

These cannons of course are silent but no less imposing and stand like twin sentinels at one of Mumbai's most beautiful structures. Raj Bhavan continues to be the green emerald of Walkeshwar, reminding us that style is temporary but understated class is eternal.

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