Soaring to the Skies

Standing Tall After More than 1000 years
Standing Tall After More than 1000 years

When we were growing up, the legend was that this tower (Vimana is the correct terminology) was so tall that its shadow never touched the ground at any point of time. It was of course too good to be true but the fiction can’t and doesn’t take anything away from what can be described as one of the most awe-inspiring architectural feats of ancient times.

Older than the Angkor Wat by more than a century, the Brihadeeswara Temple of Tanjore in Tamil Nadu, India celebrated 1000 years in 2010. A mighty king who had expanded the borders of his kingdom and massively increased the wealth of his realm wanted to make a statement. What stands today is still the tallest Vimana of any comparable structure. The tower stands 59.82 metres tall (that’s almost 200 feet). Although not very apparent in the photo, the tower is built in 13 receding levels in pyramidical form and is hollow on the inside. The capstone topping the vimana weighs 80 tons but is apparently not monolithic but made in parts.

What is amazing is that the stones (the temple was made of granite) are all interlocking and are held together by their own weights. There is no binding materials used. I can’t imagine how much skill and intelligence that must have required of the architects! And there’s us using our calculator apps to do 13 times 6.


4 Comments Add yours

  1. ashokbhatia says:

    It is truly an architectural feat. Since the base is larger and the height is lesser, the shadow part of the fable would indeed be a fact. How long would have been the inclined plane on to which the single 80 tonne piece on top would have got lugged by (presumably) a bullock cart? The mind boggles.

  2. Nirmala says:

    So amazing. Pity our people do not realize the value of these treasures and treat them with scant respect.

    1. Sukanya Ramanujan says:

      That’s right- too much of good things and people are so careless.

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