This antique brass and copper gun has been standing in the cultural heart of Lahore for over two centuries. It has quietly witnessed the rise and fall of many rulers…who claimed to own it and then disappeared into oblivion while this once ‘fire breathing dragon ‘ stood its ground gracefully.
It was manufactured in 1757 in Lahore, on the orders of the ‘Conqueror of Thrones’ Ahmed Shah Durrani (Abdali). A number of master workmen used their consummate skill to create this metallic monster that was named ‘Zamzamah’.The most interesting fact about this gun is that it was made out of metal vessels and kitchenware obtained from the local population of Lahore as tribute.
After Abdali, captured by Hari Singh Bhangi—it was named Bhangi Toup/gun after the victor. But it was Rudyard Kipling who immortalised the gun in his classic novel ‘Kim’. It became a frequently mentioned part of his childhood memoirs. In 1875, Kipling’s father was appointed the Principal of Mayo School of Arts, Lahore, British India (present day National College of Arts, Pakistan) and also became curator of the Lahore Museum.
Kipling describes the gun in front of the Lahore Museum in the first chapter of ‘Kim’… “He sat, in defiance of municipal orders, astride the gun Zam-Zammah on her brick platform opposite the old Ajaib-Gher – the Wonder House, as the natives call the Lahore Museum”.
Today Kim’s Gun still stands there, surrounded by hundreds of pigeons…another permanent feature of the Mall Road. These pigeons are fed regularly by the municipality of the city as well as by passersby.
Once known as”destroyer even of the strongholds of heaven” , Kim’s Gun stands here benignly overlooking the pigeons.