Rockets recovered from open well are from Tipu era: Experts
They were found on a farm in a village of Shivamogga district last year
A large number of unfired rockets, found in an open well at a farmhouse in Nagara village, Hosanagar taluk near here, have now been confirmed by experts to belong to the Tipu Sultan era.
R. Shejeshwara, Assistant Director of the Department of Archaeology, Museums and Heritage, confirmed to The Hindu that 102 unused rockets were found in varying sizes in April 2017, during the de-silting of an open well on land belonging to Nagaraja Rao, a farmer from Nagara village. The farmer had handed over these objects to the department for study.
The distinctive feature of the rockets is that they are filled with black powder (a mixture of sulphur, charcoal, and potassium nitrate) and encased in iron. They are seven to 10 inches long and 1 to 3 inches in diameter. “The rockets were corroded owing to continuous exposure to water,” he said.
These objects were studied by a group of history experts, headed by H.M. Siddanagoudar, a retired officer of the department, and they concluded that these items were unused war rockets belonging to the 18th century. As Nagara was an important administrative centre of the Mysore state, and Tipu had established a mint and an armoury here, they concluded that the rockets belonged to the Tipu Sultan period. Mr. Shejeshwara said that after the fourth Anglo-Mysore War, there was the chance that Tipu’s army, stationed in Nagara, could have dumped the rockets in the well to prevent them from getting into the hands of the East India Company.
Both Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan had used rockets in the wars they fought against the East India Company. While wooden or paper casing was used for rockets back then, iron casing was used for the first time by the Mysore army. Using iron tubes to store the propellant gave the rockets higher thrust and longer range. In addition, using soft iron increased the capacity to inflict greater damage on the enemy. Mr. Shejeshwara said after the 4th Anglo-Mysore war, rockets in Tipu’s armoury in Srirangapatna were taken to The Royal Arsenal, Woolwich, in England. Inspired by the Mysorean rockets, the Congreve rockets were developed by Sir William Congreve and were used by the British in the Napoleonic wars. The rockets are now kept in the museum of the department for further research located on the premises of the Shivappa Nayaka Palace in Shivamogga city. As they will be subjected to further research, they are not available for public viewing.