Basheer Bagh Gunfoundry

Basheer Bagh Gunfoundry also known as Top ka Sancha is located in Basheer Bagh, Abids Road, Nampally (Mandal), Hyderabad District, Telangana State, India. The historic Aliya High School for Boys and Mehboobia College for Girls, both are opposite to Gunfoundry, across the main road that leads to Abids (in south)

The Gunfoundry was built in the year 1795 CE during the Asaf Jahi period by a renowned French Engineer Monsieur Raymond who had established a cannon-manufacturing factory here. Residential colonies have come up around the site, and only a part of Gunfoundry remains. 

Some of the guns Raymond cast can be seen in the small gun park on the meridian of the road in front of the Assembly building. Much of the massive gun foundry walls fell due to lack of repair and maintenance over time.

Massive brick walls and cubicles which are supported by brick and mortar arches at ground level, and consists of brick kiln-like space underneath are what remain of the original foundry. This is the only surviving Gunfoundry established in the 18th Century CE, in the Nizam’s State of Hyderabad.

The original brick walls of Gunfoundry were approximately 50 feet high with a tapered portion commencing above 25 feet. The binding material used is lime mortar while the wall surfaces were covered with lime mortar on the exterior and interior.

At a time when the French Revolution was at its peak in France (1789-1790), impacting the entire civilised world with its ideals of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity, there was in Hyderabad an intrepid French General in the service of the second Asif Jah, Nizam Ali Khan, who with his indomitable courage and skills of diplomacy, established a contingent of native army personnel trained on French model that became a strong instrument of warfare to serve the Hyderabad State. The fact that these army men wore headgear similar to the Cap of Liberty, a symbol of the great French Revolution, shows how this French commander wanted to replicate the values of revolutionary France in distant Hyderabad. The guns and cannons he made, after establishing an arsenal and a foundry, became so famous that never in the country, before or after, were such quality ammunition ever made. The indomitable French general behind that contingent was Michel Joachim Marie Raymond, popularly known as Francois Raymond or Monsieur Raymond.

During the last quarter of the 18th century, this enterprising French adventurer, Raymond, came to India as a merchant. But soon he joined as a soldier and served a few native states, before he finally reached Hyderabad to form a native regiment. Here he rose to become its commander and established considerable French influence in the court of the Nizam by winning his trust. Raymond’s passionate commitment to the work he discharged and loyalty to the Nizam were such that his influence on the Nizam continued unabated, till death, even though the British had taken over vast territories of the Circars from the Nizam in 1766 and established their hegemony in Hyderabad court after the eclipse of the French power.

Jan 31, 2017 :"The tourists can visit the site by taking the keys from us," said Mr K. Padmanabha, the deputy director of archaeology and museums. He said the department was keeping the premises locked because people throw garbage and spoiling the facade.

Raymond Tomb
When Raymond died in 1798, a tomb made of black granite was erected in Saroornagar, about 10 kilometers away from Hyderabad. The place is on top of a hillock in Mussa Ram Bagh, Malakpet. It is about 60 meters long, 30 meters wide, and 10 meters high. The initials “JR” are carved into it. The tomb has long been a symbol of great respect from the people and the dynasty and until now, people from all over the city still pay their respects for the great Frenchman on his death anniversary by lighting incense sticks near the tomb. Another attraction that can also be found near the tomb is the French Garden, located less than a kilometer away. It is the place where Raymond and his men were stationed. Now, it is a beautifully laid out lawn with green grass and flowers. There are also remnants of the military barracks stationed there during Raymond’s time.

In October 2001, the monument collapsed due to heavy rain, and also, lack of maintenance. The state government had it renovated, however, and given a facelift, as well as a brand new pavilion. On April 14, 2003, it was again showcased to senior officials of the tourism and archaeology departments. The renovation cost an estimated Rs 500,000, a small price to pay for the continued existence of one of Hyderabad’s enduring attractions.