The Marathas’ armoury and mortars

Courtesy: https://twitter.com/mehtabastiram/status/1523477240675143681?s=21&t=jj-Xfg6KvNQVxG2FWS0dmQ


A brilliant comparison of the Marathas’ and Tipu’s armoury in personalised pictures by Katariya@mehtabastiram. It is impressive to see how westernised and well planned were the armouries made by the Marathas, not to forget the Arthashastra that has categorically mentioned guidelines. The Marathas followed the Ajnapatra by Ramchandra Pant Amatya.

While the entire world is busy glorifying Tipu’s armories(which if you have visited you will find it so small that there is hardly any room to walk inside). Here I would like to display a few pictures of the modernized Maratha armory at Aligarh. Image: Tipu’s armoury

Now let’s start.The Marathas under Mahadji Shinde began heavy modernization of their forces.Soon making them the best in Bharat. Even superior to the British. How? Will show that in another thread. But every modernized force requires cantonments,arsenals and armouries.

There were various Cantonments at Aligarh,Koel,Ujjain etc.Arsenals and manufacturing centers for cannons and muskets were faizabad,Ujain,Agra,Palwal,Hodal,Gohad,Mathura,Kalpi,Gwalior,Delhi and Sardhana. These were just the foundries of Scindhias.Holkar,Bhonsles etc had their own.

Now let’s discuss the armoury which are government has conveniently kept in a pathetic condition which unlike Tipus gets 0 maintenance. It’s in present day AMU.

Present view from a distance

A guard post

The entrance to the armoury

The view from the entrance

The roof

The main armoury room is on the left of the entrance.

This is what it probably looked like when it was in its golden days. It would have matchlock,Special purpose built light muskets,Flintlock muskets,swords,Regimental colors and much more!

The traditional magazines as stated in the Adnyapatra. Adnyapatra, also pronounced as Ajnapatra is an edict on the principles of policy believed to be written by Ramchandra Pant Amatya

Although underground armouries have been mentioned since the time of Arthashastra the Adyanpatra has some distinct features.

All granaries and storehouses of military provisions in the fort had floors made of chunam & stone to secure them from fire,rats,insects,ants & white ants.

The powder magazine was constructed at a distance from the houses or compound of the houses. It was mostly built at an appropriate distance from the chief place and be surrounded by thick enclosure of Nirgudi and other trees.

Like Mauryan armouries they had underground cellars. Only chunam work was done in the cellar

Bags and vessels of gunpowder were kept on rick-stands.Rockets, grenades & other explosives
should be kept in the middle portion of the house & were not be allowed to get damp.Adnyapatra was completed in 1715 clearly indicating Marathas had rockets before Tipu was even born.

An inspection took place in every 8-15 days where the Havaldar would take out powder, rockets, grenades and other explosives for drying before sealing them again.

Guards were also stationed 24×7 to protect the powder magazine. They had to keep awake day and night during their watch period and no person was allowed to approach near them without permission.

A random thread on the Mortars(a type of artillery) of Tipu vs others of the Indian subcontinent. I have always been a firm believer of the fact that Tipu’s ability to make Tigers on his guns(no matter how pathetic they were) could not be surpassed by anyone.Pic- Tipus mortar.u

Tipu’s guns were undeniably superior to anything the Brits had faced in India but that was until the 2nd Anglo-Maratha war & Sikh wars.There was 0 standardization in Tipus artillery with pieces having extremely different dimensions.Thus they were more of beauty pieces than guns.

Even if we take just beauty what do you find more beautiful? Tipus cannon on the left or a Jat cannon on the right? Nevertheless a cannon has to be effective in battle & not a show piece

So here is a comparison of Maratha mortars with those of Tipu.

The Maratha mortar here has the following features:
It is a multi-purpose weapon i.e. a hybrid mortar and howitzer
As a field Howitzer it fired explosive shell much like a contemporary 5.5 inch howitzer
At the same time it also fired at even higher trajectories used by mortars

The carriage is built to withstand the shock of firing. Moreover
It also has a plumb line within the decorative cupola, to ensure the gun was level, thus improving accuracy
This+iron spikes which stabilise the piece in preparation for subsequent high angle rounds make it unique

Compare it to avg Mortars in those days. Here is a Napoleonic french mortar (the french artillery was considered the best in the world).

Are these thing the ends of tools which can be attached at the end of a stick/shaft? These sure can help dig etc for placing artillery during sieges. A hammer,a shovel and a mattock.

Indigenous in the sense the Guns were cast & developed in Maratha foundries(there were lots of them!!) and had a unique design. The foundry was under a European officer called Sangster. But i have not seen this design in any European weapon till now.

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