Towers (built without modern construction equipments), inverted shadows (without mirror or conventional lens), water supply and irrigation system (without electricity), musical pillars and many more technological marvels from 14th century! We were a group of seven – engineers, architects and art historians studying the architecture and iconography in Hampi the capital of Vijayanagar Kingdom.
1. Tower or Gopuram of Virupaksha Temple : 52 meter in height 9 storied structure (15th century AD)
It has two tiered stone base and a super structure in brick. some wooden sections are used in some corners to impart strength and stability to the structure. inside the Gopuram the temperature was substantially lower than the ambient temperature.
2. The inverted shadow of Gopuram – Virupaksha Temple
The shadow of the Gopuram is seen in a small room located in far north west corner of the temple however the shadow is inverted! We tried to investigate but could not get as much access as needed. (some study by times group infers that there is a small aperture in the interface of roof and wall that acts as a lens and hence inverts the shadow – link)
How did they do it?
4. It is said that a channel of Tungabhadra river flows across the temple terrace then down the temple kitchen and back to mainstream of the river.
5. The Musical Pillars : Vijay Vithal temple
The thin pillars seen above, each produces different sound note when hit. Two of them produce exact sound of a typical school bell. The guide claims some pillars produce harmonium notes though every sound is different it is not as accurate as the harmonium notes. We tried every other pillar similar to these and realized these pillars are special.
6. Stepped tank and aqua ducts
Although these are fascinating things the fact is, science behind it and how it was done remains a mystery.
P.S. If researchers can study these in detail with proper access and technology (satellites, ultrasonic detectors etc) and implement the design relevant to present situation, then some of the major issues of today will be solved. Viz an urban water supply system that does not depend on electricity or building so constructed with natural ingredients yet robust and maintains a pleasant temperature inside (unlike the ever heating cement concrete); then the power shortage and subsequent effects on environment will be under control.