Sikh History: All About Zamzama Gun – The Bhangi Toap aka Bhangianwala Toap

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In the serial Maharaja Ranjit Singh, we here a lot about the toap owned by Saheb Singh. What was this toap? How did the Bhangis got this? What was it called?

At Lahore Museum via Wikimedia Commons

Here we share everything about the Bhangi toap originally Zamzama Gun that came under the possession of the Bhangi misl.

Zamzamah Gun – The Origin

The gun was a large core cannon, made for the first time in Lahore during the reign of Ahmed Shah Durrani under the direction of his Prime Minister. It was 14 feet 4 1⁄2 inches long and had a bore at its aperture of 9 1⁄2 inches.

The gun was one of the largest guns ever made in the Indian sub-continent. It was mainly made from copper and brass which was funded by the people of Lahore by donating their kitchen utensils. It is kept in display in Lahore musuem in Pakistan. In English literature it is called as Zim’s gun by Rudyard Kipling.

How Did the Bhangi Misl Get the Zamzama aka the Bhangi Toap?

It was used for the very first time in 1761 by Ahmed Shah Durrani in the battle of Panipat. However, after the battle, he left it in Lahore with his governor Khwaja Ubed as the carriage that was supposed to carry the huge gun was not ready.

A year later, the chief of the Bhangi misl, Hari Singh Bhangi fought a battle against Khawaja Ubed. He not only attacked the area but also seized his arms, artillery and ammunition. Hari Singh Bhangi thereby could capture the Zamzama Gun along with other guns. After it came under the possession of the Bhangis, it was renamed as Bhangi Toap aka Bhangianwala Toap.

Sikh History – How Did the Toap Pass from Bhangi to Sukerchakia to Chattha to Bhangi to Maharaja Ranjit Singh?

It remained in the possession of the Bhangi Sardars, till 1764, post that Charhat Singh, chief of Sukerchakia clan and father of Maha Singh claimed the gun as his share of the spoils after he helped the Bhangis to capture Lahore. It was then transported from Lahore to Gujranwala.

However, it didn’t remain for much time with Charhat Singh as the Chattha brothers of Ahmadnagar took away the cannon from him. Post the possession of the Bhangi toap, a fued arose between the brothers – Pir Muhammad Khan and Ahmad Khan. This battle between the brother over Zamzama witnessed the death of one son of Pir Muhammad and two sons of Ahmad Khan.

Next, Gujjar Singh Bhangi, who assisted Pir Muhammad Khan in his battle against his own brother, took the large cannon with him once again to Gurjat. However, it was recovered by Pir Muhammad again in 1772 and was moved to Rasulnagar. A year later it was captured by Maharaja Jhanda Singh Dhillon, the chief of the Bhangi misl in 1773. The Zamzama was then carried to Amritsar. This is how it came under the possession of the Bhangi misl yet again.

It remained with the Bhangis almost for three decades but it fell under the hands of Maharaja Ranjit Singh when he occupied Amritsar.

The Use of the Bhangi Toap in Battles and Wars

Bute Shah and Sohan Lal Suri records that the Bhangianwala Toap was used by the Bhangis in their battle against the Kanhaiyas and Ramgarhias.

Ranjit Singh too employed the huge cannon in several of his campaigns including that of Kasur, Daska, Sujanpur, Multan and Wazirabad. During the siege of Multan in 1810, it was taken on a carriage but it failed to perform. In 1818, once again the Bhangianwala toap was reinforced but it proved ineffective.

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