Temple Tales #2: Mystery Unsolved

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)

inverted shadow-hampi3. Ornate Pillars – Virupaksha Temple

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

stepped-tank-800x533The stepped tank is filled by an aqua duct seen above. It is said the aqua duct brought water from river Tungabhadra to the tank.

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.

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7 Responses to Temple Tales #2: Mystery Unsolved

  1. piyush mulay says:

    really we have so much to learn in our country itself and we keep looking towards other countries to provide solutions to our problems, and also a big thanks to you now i know the significance of kartiki ekadashi

  2. Bharat says:

    Thanks a lot for the post.I would like to mention about a book in here which would help you people in your research.It the ‘Technology of the gods’ by david hatcher childress. He has given detailed research on some of architecture on pyramids and ancient cities.

  3. Bharat says:

    Also there is youtube video which tells about an hidden underground city below the caves of Ajanta and ellora. If you people happen to visit there ,we would like to hear from you.Thanks.

    • Thanks for your valuable inputs Bharat, it will indeed help us in our explorations. Saw the video and it is very interesting. In fact having seen the video we will be planning a special tour there and keep you posted about the findings.

      Thank you once again.

  4. Vishalakshi says:

    Is there any particular reason for formation of image of virupaksha temple

    • Hello Vishal, from the architecture of the temple, it is clear that the temple was built with scientific and engineering consideration both in design and in construction. Since access is restricted in the temple premises especially on the terrace, could not investigate the matter thoroughly. However the formation of an inverted shadow or image can be achieved by a convex lens or a pinhole camera. I think the principle of pinhole camera may have been used with complex mathematical calculations to predict the image location and construct the temple accordingly.

      Why was the temple constructed that way is far more difficult to understand than how it was. I guess one of it’s purpose could be education or demonstrating the principles of physics or the architect might have thought of introducing some novel element!

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