These two 3.10-metre long, 165-year-old steel cannons were among the scores of large guns which once protected the open-to-sea borders of Mumbai, but now, they will face inwards and deployed to enhance the beauty of the city’s gardens.
In a unique initiative, the Brihan Mumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has decided to restore, refurbish and erect the two over 16-decades old cannons of the British East India Co. era in an east Mumbai suburban park soon.
“The British rulers had installed these cannons in many places to protect the sea-encircled Mumbai, its ports, harbours, the mint, and other important installations. From these, two steel canons are still sturdy and in good shape,” said BMC Gardens Superintendent Jitendra Pardeshi.
Presently lying in the Lions Children’s Park, Ghatkopar, the Additional Municipal Commissioner (East) Ashwini Bhide has approved the proposal to re-instal both the cannons in a grand manner and sent it to the Archaeological Preservations Engineer for further action.
Built in 1971, the Lions Children Park is spread across 55,843 sq. feet of lush greenery frequented by thousands daily, with the two British-era cannons silently lying there, virtually neglected.
Both cannons are 3.10 metres long with an inner and outer circumference of 0.64 and 1.17 metres respectively, are made of steel and have ‘NCPC’ and ‘1856’ inscribed in Roman script
Pardeshi said that the Municipal Antiquities Preservation engineer will soon restore the two cannons to their original glory and they shall be re-installed on a magnificent high platform, affording Mumbaikars a bit of leisure with a historical touch.
Mumbai and its surroundings are dotted with several big and small remnants like fortress walls with bastions, cannons, guns, the maze of underground tunnels like the ones in Raj Bhavan or the General Post Office, old mile-stones, quaint fountains, a few underground fresh-water tanks and other marvels dating to the British Raj, some discovered and many probably unknown.
Experts and history enthusiasts have estimated that there could be 250-plus such old cannons scattered across the city, some visible and others out-of-sight, but mostly in a dilapidated condition, including two standing majestically atop a hill on the Elephanta Island, a UNESCO World Heritage site, around 10 km off Mumbai in the Arabian Sea.
Though a few lucky ones are quite well-preserved inside public buildings, some abandoned outside a railway station, at least one is worshipped as part of a make-shift temple, and others are put to ingenious uses by the locals, who are oblivious of their historic value.