Use of gunpowder in South India..
  • Dear All,

    Was reading a book and it was mentioned that the use of gunpowder
    spread to Europe in the 12th-13th centuries (possibly after Marco
    Polo?). Anyway, since India or at least the South had much more
    extensive contacts with the Chinese, how early did the South Indians
    (Chozhas, Pandyas etc) start using gunpowder? What is the earliest
    recorded work talking about the use of gunpowder? Does
    Kalingaththuparani talk about it?
  • as far as I know it was babar who brought gun powder inside india.

    the period between 1508 and 1519 the Ottoman Empire's new weapon,
    the matchlock musket was seen in warfare.
    Babur, it appears, was swift in acquiring this new technology for
    Somewhere during these years Babur introduced matchlocks into his
    army, and allowed an Ottoman, Ustad Ali, to train his troops, who
    were then known as Matchlockmen, in their use. Babur's memoirs give
    accounts of battles where the opposition forces mocked his troops,
    never having seen a gun before, because of the noise they made and
    the way no arrows, spears, etc appeared to come from the weapon when
    These guns allowed small armies to make large gains on enemy
    territory. Small parties of skirmishers who had been dispatched
    simply to test enemy positions and tactics were making inroads into
    in panipat ibrahim Lodhi advanced against him with 100,000 soldiers
    and 100 elephants; and though Babur's army was possibly as few as
    25,000 men he won

    the cholas had perhaps never seen the cannon.
    even malik kafur who put an end to established muvendars in south had
    not seen one.

    earlier turks in the south used a flame thrower possibly using naptha.

    malik kafur used fire tipped arrows - the tips being made of camel
    dung and camel hair so that the fire doesnt get extinguished in the
    arrows flight

  • Wow Venketesh... thanks for that bit of info. I too had read that
    Babur had introduced canons to India. But I still find it really
    funny... If the Cholas had such extensive contacts with the Chinese,
    how come they never got to use gunpowder? Or even a mention of it?
    Seems very strange to say the least.
  • Hi Arun
    the chinese used to fill gun powder in a bamboo piece.

    if they plugged it on both sides before igniting it was a bomb. if
    they plugged only one side it became a rocket. they used rockets for
    signalling extensively.

    I dont think the chinese used gun powder during the times of the

  • Hi Arun

    collected some info

    An early record of gunpowder, is in a Chinese book from c. 850 A.D.
    called "Classified Essentials of the Mysterious Tao of the True
    Origin of Things," indicates that gunpowder was a byproduct of Taoist
    alchemical efforts to develop an elixir of immortality.

    funny no?

    immortality and death.

    The Chinese first seem to have used gunpowder in warfare in 904 A.D.,
    as incendiary projectiles called "flying fires." (These were invented
    during the Tang Dynasty and were originally used for fireworks.)

    The important step was to use gunpowder as a propellant. The first
    such use was recorded in 1132 in experiments with mortars consisting
    of bamboo tubes. Mortars with metal tubes (made of iron or bronze)
    first appeared in the wars (1268-1279) between the Mongols and the
    Song Dynasty.

    so some parallel usage during chola times also.

  • Dear Venketesh,

    Great work. Where did you get this info from?

    That's precisely what I mean. Since during the Chola times, there seems to
    have been the knowhow... and since Kullothunga etc went to China, I am
    surprised to see that this didn't make its appearance in South India before
    the Muslims arrived. Also, what is the earliest Tamil work that mentions the
    use of gunpowder in war?
  • Hi Arun

    my info is very elementary. but I think it warrants a better study
    which we shall do in the coming weeks.

    but this greek fire the predecessor of gunpowder( where one sprays
    naptha and ignites it on ships) was a real fearsome ammunition
    considering hulls of wood and sails of cloth.

    I think the real work on gun based warfare started in the new roman
    empire in constyatinople.

    when mongols invaded delhi wassaf and khusro dont even mention sucha
    weapon. they take pains to even describe the arrow proof siilk
    underwear the mongols wore. they woulndt have missed this.

    after the mongols came only malik visited south india. he didnt use
    the weapon either.
    so the first prize goes to babar. lodi was surprised at the weapon
    and his elephants bolted at the thunder.

    just wondering. if I as an individual had just one machine gun and
    unlimited ammunition I could have conquered the chola chera and

    thats the power of technology.

  • Nice compilation of info Venky. Your enthusiasm seems
  • Would have been fun if Veera Pandyan was waiting for
    Malik Kafur with a gun :) History would have taken an
    interesting turn.
  • In his last days, Sandilyan was writing a sequel to
    his novel "Rajathilagam" This appeared in the weekly
    Kumudam for a few weeks and then the author passed

    In one of the episodes, I remember he talking of
    gunshots in the malabar coast...

    I still have those Kumudam pages in my native place.
    Will try to bring it to Chennai.
  • >
    > Unfortunately it was other way around ...
    > one of the Pandya cousins wanted to settle score with another and
    > sought the help of Malik's gang .. they entered, cleared the cousin
    > first and then this guy !
    > First Tamil ruler in History to seek support from Malik's gang!

    we all under estimate malik kafur
    he would have attacked madurai even without sundar a pandyas help
    and there is evidence to suggest sundara deserted malik much ahead of

    if you need to blame some body its the hoysalas vir ballala and co
    who offered logistic support to malik to settle scores with the

    malik was even planning a naval invasion of lanka before politics
    heated up back in delhi.

  • Again lack of unity thanks to kingdoms being too tiny
    and wanting to be king instead of the king in
    everybodies kingdom.

    Venky,where do you get all this info about Malik?
  • there is sufficient info about malik if you are obsessed with him

    historians of those days were sychophants too.

    they record him in glorious terms when he was in good books of the
    sultan and then defile him when he is not.

    malik remains today the greatest warrior in terms of territory
    conquered for the first time. the later muslim kings were beating
    dead snakes.


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