Vedic Origin of Thousand Pillar Halls in Indian and Mayan Culture!

100 o madurai

Most magnificent Thousand Pillared Hall in Madurai.

Research paper written by London Swaminathan
Post No.1151; Dated 5th July 2014.

Decimal system was invented by the Hindus. We have got hundreds of references to decimal numbers such as 1000, 10,000, lakh and crore in the Vedic scriptures and post Vedic Hindu scriptures. One of the architectural wonders of the world is Thousand Pillar Mandap (hall) in South Indian Temples. It originated in the Rig Vedic period and went up to Central America.

All the thousand pillared halls in the South Indian temples are sculptural museums.

Madurai, Rameswaram, Srirangam, Tirunelveli, Tiruvannamalai, Chidambaram and several other temples of Nayak period have got huge stone halls called 1000 pillar Mandapas. The celebrated thousand pillar mandap/hall in Madurai has 985 pillars now. It was erected in 1569 by Aryanatha Mudaliyar, whose statue riding a horse is at the entrance. The hall is measuring 76.2 metres by 73 metres. There is a central shrine for lord Shiva in his dancing form. There are beautiful sculptures on every pillar. On ceiling near the entrance there is a wheel which gives the cycle of sixty years of the Tamil calendar. Aryanatha Mudaliyar who built this huge mandap was the minister for 71 years under four Nayak kings. Probably he was the minister who served the longest period in Indian history or world history. He served them between 1529 and 1600 CE.
Glorious Hall of 1000 pillars in Madurai, Tamil Nadu.

The Madura hall is famous for its Kuravan-Kurathi statue (nomads) with a basket on Kurathi’s houlders. The workmanship of it is unparalleled. She has a child on her bac , one inside the basket and a third clinging on to her breasts. Kuravan is loaded with jewels according to the custom of his clan. Puranic King Harichandra and queen Chandramathi are sculpted in one pillar. Rati-Manmatha, Kannappa and Pandava brothers are also sculpted beautifully. There are 22 pillars in a corner which emit different musical notes when struck with a piece of stone or metal.

Ferguson in his “Indian and Eastern Architecture” says, “it is not the number of pillars but their marvellous elaboration that makes this hall the wonder of the place”.
Thousand pillar mandap in Srirangam is larger than Madurai mandap. Measuring 152 metres by 48.8 metres, it contains 953 granite pillars. As in Madurai each pillar has got beautiful sculptures and the pillars are monoliths.

Warangal/Hanamakonda Thousand Pillar Hall Temple

Andhra Pradesh/Telengana

Andhra Pradesh and Telengana in South India have many temples with ‘1000 pillared’ halls. They are older than the Nayak halls of Tamil Nadu. Thousand pillared hall temple in Hanamakonda /Warangal was built during Chalukya period. The Kakathiya sculptors built it in 1163 under Rudhra Deva’s rule. During Muslim invasion some of the structures were damaged. Three hundred Pillars are fused with one another. In Karnataka Moodabidri, a Jain temple has also a mandap called ‘1000 pillar temple’. But only in Tamil Nadu we see at least 985 pillars plus the inside temple with more pillars making it to 1000. Other places though they call it “1000 pillar”, what they mean is a lot of pillars.

Rig Vedic Concept– Huge mansion of a 1000 columns:-
What is the origin of the 1000 pillared halls? Who conceived the idea?
It is in the Rig Veda, the oldest scripture in the world!!

RV 5-62-1 (Hymn to Mitra – Varuna)
“B y your high law, firm order is established there where they loose for Surya’s horses.
Ten hundred stood together; there I looked on this the most marvellous Deities’ one chief glory.

RV 5-62-6
With hands that shed no blood, guarding the pious, whom Varuna, you save amid oblations.
You two, together, kings of willing spirit, uphold dominion based on thousand pillars.
Probably this hymn inspired our sculptors to construct a thousand pillared halls.
Chichen Itza, Mexico, Mayan/Toltec structure

Indian sculptors in Mayan lands
I have already written several articles about the connection between the Indian and Mayan civilizations. Hindus migrated to South America around 3100 BCE after the burning of Kandava Forest by Arjuna and Krishna. Maya Danava went to South America, who was the originator of Mayan culture. Now and then Indians visited Mayan cities via South East Asia. Around the eighth century CE, they went to Chichen Itza in Mexico and created one of the largest cities. They constructed ‘1000 pillared hall’ there. Now we see hundreds of columns in rows. It had roof over them long ago.

Chichen itza is remarkable for one thing. A lot of people of different races and countries visited it for trading. It had huge market complex. The 1000 columns of Chichen itza stood in front of the Temple of the Warriors which have sculptures of warriors and animals like we have in 1000 pillared halls of Hindu temples. This place occupied four and half acres. The columns supported carved wooden beams.
Chichen Itza, Mexico

Concept of Thousand Pillared Halls has been there for over at least 3500 years. The halls in Madurai and Sirangam are shining in their full glory and splendour.

Please read my previous posts about Indian- Mayan Civilisation links:–
1.Are Mayas Indian Nagas? April 28, 2012.
2.Amazing Similarities between Mayas and Indian Nagas, Posted April 28, 2012
3.Part- 2 of Amazing Similarities between Mayas and Indian Nagas, Posted May 1, 2012.
4.Did Indians build Egyptian Pyramids?

Temple at Moodbidri in Karnataka.

Temples are Occult Laboratories

murdeshwar remote
Murudheeswar Temple in Karnataka.

Compiled by London Swaminathan
Post No.999; Dated 24th April,2014.

Why do we need temples?

1.People will immediately say that ‘not everyone has facilities at home for a peaceful prayer’.
2.Others will point out that temples are clean places for doing prayers.
3.Some may say that joint prayer is more effective than individual prayer.
4.Temples are places where people can socialise.

5.We may add that temples are not just places of worship but also centres of art and culture.
6.Temple festivals like Car (chariot) festivals help to establish communal unity since all castes are allowed to worship from the same place, brushing shoulder with shoulder.

7.Temples are places where you can feel the positive vibrations.
8.Temples are located in places where there is natural energy.
9.Temples are occult centres with some magical powers.
10.In India temples are a big industry. Millions of people are employed by the temples and the associated industries.

11.Indian tourism depends mainly on temples and its devotees.
12.Temples are centres of beautiful sculptures, musical pillars, architectural wonders, Engineering marvels and unsolved mysteries.

13.Temples are heritage centres that show continued practice for at least 2000 years.
14.Temples have thousands of inscriptions and copper plates that helps us to study and write history.
15.Temples have old records of Sthalapuranas (local history) and palm leaf manuscripts.

16.Temples are the richest places in India where kings and rich people deposited their wealth. Examples: Balaji temple at Tirumala/Tirupati, Padmanabhaswamy Temple at Trivandrum, Somnath Temple of Gujarat which Muhammed of Gazni raided 17 times and robbed all the gold and took it to Aghanistan, and Mulasthan/Multan Sun Temple in Pakistan which Muhammad Bin Kazim raided and took tons of gold to Iraq.

17.Temples are feeding centres of the poor. At times of severe drought, even the middle class people went to temples and took food. Examples: Thevaram of Appar and Sambandhar to get gold coins to feed the people.
18.Temples supported dancing girls. Thanjavur Brhadeeswar temple name all the 400 dancing girls with their addresses in the inscriptions.

19. There are over one lakh (100,000) temples in India giving enormous scope for further research.
20.Temples are Yoga centres where Yoga is taught. Temples have libraries with religious books. Temples have Veda Patasalas, Thevaram teaching centres and Bhajan centres.
21.Temples are places where big concerts , religious discourses and Yagas, Havans and Homams are held.
22. Temples are places where ceremonies for departed souls are held in proper sanctified atmosphere. Example: Adi New moon day (Amavasya) etc.

Occult Laboratories!
Professor Ramanujam Srinivasan gives a novel explanation about the temples in his book Facets of Indian Culture:–

“In the first place, the temple is a place of worship where people gather to think of God, pray to Him and worship Him. Though theoretically we could do this at any place and at any time, certain conveniences and environments are provided in the temples which one cannot command always in other places. In most homes, quiet worship of the supreme is almost impossible.

“Congregational or community worship provides an effect out of proportion to the number taking part. There is feeling of devotion and aspiration surging forth from the hearts of those assembled in such places of worship. If thought is a reality several minds and hearts tuned to a particular attitude of aspiration and devotion are bound to produce tremendous results.
agk and tpk

Tirupparankundrama and Alakarkoil near Madurai

“Apart from all these things, there is an important aspect of temple which is often lost sight of when people talk about temples. Certain great centres have been chosen by Greta Seers as most effective for the purpose of achieving ceratin definite results in the common life of a community. There are centres of great occult powers and the Great Ones who founded these great centres magnetized those places, in consequence of which these centres become channels for certain types of influences from on high to flow through them, not only to the people gathered there, but to all surrounding locality. It will enable people coming under those influences to achieve what otherwise they might not have been to accomplish.

“ We may look upon these temples some kind of occult laboratories. Certain physical adjustment coupled with certain systematized sounds (Mantras or Music) gives rise to certain results as a matter of course. If these physical processes are properly gone through the results will be there, whosoever the person or persons who did it provided they have been taught the right way of doing it and also are competent to do it.


“A person of high character will able to put more life into what he does and to that extent the effect will be modified and quality improved. One of the essentials for the proper conduct of such rituals is the proper ordaining of the priest.

“There are certain laws governing the operation of these occult laboratories. Just as in an ordinary science laboratory, certain conditions have to be fulfilled before the desired result is achieved, so also in these occult laboratories we have to provide the necessary favourable conditions if we have to reap good results. Beyond a certain limit, no dirt or filth shall be allowed. In some temples none shall enter the Garba Griha (sanctum sanctorum)in North Indian temples, there is no restriction. They speak of Ugra Prathista and Saumya Prathista. In some cases very strict adherence of physical purity is insisted upon, in other cases the conditions are not so rigid. If some great people who founded them have laid down some conditions, they should be fulfilled.

“But all this is the purely material aspect. Before mysticism, neither temple nor theology is of any avail. The purpose of religion is to satisfy the inner hunger of man for the realisation of the Larger Self, the Divine. All the time this inner urge is there and seeks expression and fulfilment. The world evolves and man also evolves. His nature expands; he becomes less selfish, less insular, less parochial”.


Please read my earlier posts related to temple worship:
1.The Wonder That is Madurai Meenakshi Temple ( posted 29 September 2013)
2. Acoustic Marvel of Madurai Temple (Posted on 12th May 2013)
3.Largest Golden Temple in the World (posted on 23 July 2012)
4.Mirror Temples! Hindu Wonders! ( posted on 3rd October 2013)
5. Musical Pillars in Hindu Temples (Posted on 12th May 2013)
6. Multan in Pakistan: Magnetic Hindu God (posted on 26 February 2014)
7. 108,000 Temples in India (Posted on 21 July 2012)
8. Temple Visit ‘Good for Health’ (posted on 15 May 2013)
9. Prayers are good for Heart, says Scientists (10 July 2013)
10. OM boosts Brain Power: US University Research Posted ( Posted 12 June 2013)
& 900 more articles on similar subjects

(Most of these English articles are posted in Tamil also)

Contact:– swami_48@yahoo. com

The Wonder that is Madurai Meenakshi Temple


Written by london swaminathan and uploaded on 14th October2011 on to his other blog.

Why did they send Meenakshi’s pendant to Queen Victoria of England?
Why did Madurai temple pillars go to the Philadelphia Museum in USA?
Why did an English collector present gold shoes to Goddess Meenakshi?
Why did Victoria and Albert Museum in London hang a Meenakshi curtain?
Why does the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford have Madurai pillar replicas?
Why does the India office Library keep pictures of Madurai Temple?
How did the Houston (USA) Meenakshi temple receive a Madurai idol even after the plane crashed?

Read now for the answers:

I was walking through the streets of London in 1991 thinking about the answers for the BBC listeners’ questions. My Question and Answer programme was judged the best among non-current affairs programmes of the BBC World Service in that year because it attracted 19,000 letters of appreciation from the listeners around the world. I was working as the producer of the BBC Tamil Service known as ‘Thamizosai’. The BBC in house magazine ‘Ariel’ published my photo and a write-up about my programme. So I took much interest in answering the questions. When I entered a book shop on the high street my eyes were searching for good books in the shelf and found out ‘Wonders of the World’ published by Automobile Association, UK. When I flipped through the pages for information for listeners’ questions, I was surprised to see Madurai Meenakshi Temple listed as one of the world wonders. Madurai was my home town. When the Indians failed to recognise it as a world wonder, a London book had recognised it as a world wonder in 1991! When I saw big campaigns in Tamil news papers twenty years after this to support Meenakshi temple as one of the modern wonders I was laughing. Better late than never!

(A word of advice: If you visit any temple and want to enjoy the art treasures, forget the gods. If you go to the temple just to worship god, forget the art treasures. You can’t mix both.)

MADURAI is the second largest city in Tamil Nadu, India. It is 300 miles south of Chennai/Madras.

Madurai Meenakshi Temple is an architectural wonder. When one climbs to the top of the South Tower to have a bird’s eye view of Madurai, one can’t but wonder about the engineering skills of our forefathers.

Meenakshi temple’s old pictures or objects can be seen in India Office Library, London, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford and Houston Meenakshi Temple, Texas, USA.

The pillars of one of the Madurai temples, “Madana Gopala Swamy Kovil” are in Philadelphia Museum of Art, USA. A lady from Philadelphia visited Madurai in 1930s and got interested in the temple pillars .They were just lying there without any care. She knew the value of art work in the pillars and shipped them to USA. Now a mandap/hall is reconstructed with those pillars in the museum. The temple was built in the fifteenth century in Madurai.

Queen Victoria wanted to see one of the jewels of Goddess Meenakshi. It was a pendant with ten big sapphire stones. It went to London and came back to Madurai to decorate the goddess.

British collector of Madurai Rose Peter, Shipping merchants Scotch Brothers and East India Company –all donated gold and jewels to goddess Meenakshi.

India Office Library, London has a haunting series of glass plate photographs of Pudu Mandapam opposite the temple taken in the 1850s by Captain Edward Lyons.

Ashmolean Museum at Oxford has the copper copies of some of the pillars of Madurai Pudumandapam.

Victoria and Albert Museum in London has a curtain where in Meenakshi temple’s daily activities are painted.

Madurai Meenaksh,V&A Museum,London

Picture of curtain in V&A Museum, London

Scholars who have studied Angkor Watt temple in Cambodia, the largest Hindu temple in the world and the Mayan temple at Tikal in Guatemala , a Central American country have found out some similarities with Madurai temple.

· The Meenakshi Sundareswarar (Lord Shiva is called the beautiful one Sundara +Eswara) temple is in the centre of the town Madurai in South India. The streets are arranged in squares within squares- a beautifully planned city keeping the temple at the heart of the city. Ancient Tamil literature compared this plan to a lotus flower

· Each street carries the name of a Tamil month. That means goddess idol will be taken through that street during that particular month. Now it has slightly changed.

· Temple occupies fourteen acres. There are twelve towers, big and small. The tallest of the four major towers (gopuram) is the south tower which is 161 foot – 52 meter high. Two of the small towers are covered with gold plates.

· Contrary to the custom followed in all the major temples of Tamil Nadu Goddess Meenakshi (meaning fish eyed) is worshipped first by the devotees in this temple. In other temples the male deity will be worshiped first. Here Arti/Deeparadhana is done to Meenakshi first.
· Meenakshi was born with three breasts. The Pandya king and the queen, who were her parents, were told that the third breast will disappear when she sees the right man. This happened when she met Lord Sundareswarar (Shiva). Even today a statue with three breasts can be seen in Pudumandapam opposite temple.

· Though Srirangam temple is the largest temple in Tamil Nadu, Madurai temple is more famous than other temples and listed as one of the world wonders. One can see 33,000 statues on the towers and inside the temple.

· Lord Shiva in Nataraja form (Dancer) changed his balancing foot for the sake of a Pandya king. This place is called Silver Temple (Velli Ambalam). Four famous Natrajas in four other temples use a different foot. In Madurai he lifts his right foot and stands on his left foot.

· Lord Shiva performed 64 miracles to save his devotees in Madurai which are known as 64 Divine Acts. So every week a festival is celebrated in the temple.

· Madurai temple is one of the 64 Sakthi kendras (centres).

· There is a beautiful 1,000 pillar Hall. Now it has got 985 pillars each with a different style or statue. It will take months to study all the sculptures.

It was erected in 1685 by Ariyanatha Mudaliyar who was the chief minister in Viswanatha Nayak time. Each pillar here will tell you a story. To mention a few, there is a nomad woman (kurathi) with four of her children. Even the basket she carries looks like a real one. There are lots of mythological stories carved out on pillars. Saraswati playing the Veena is a beautiful statue. Five headed snake, Rathi, Purusha Mirugam and the mythical animal Yali are other remarkable ones. Some of the stones like Rathi on swan emit musical notes when tapped.

(There are 1,000 pillar mandaps in Madurai, Tiruvannamalai, Chidambaram, Tiruvarur, Tiruvanaikka, Tiruvarangam and Tirunelveli. If all the seven 1000 pillar mandaps are to be rebuilt today it will cost us millions of rupees. Indians must realise the value of these world wonders and keep them intact for posterity. They are engineering marvels.)


Picture of musical pillars


· There are five musical stone pillars in the temple. One who knows musical notes can play on them with stones. A single pillar is separated in to columns or smaller tender pillars. When they are tapped or struck with stones they emit different musical notes like musical instruments.
(The other Tamil Nadu temples where musical pillars seen are Sucheendram, Thiruperundurai and Tirunelveli and Alwartirunagari (also Hampi in Karnataka, Tadpatri and Lepakshi in Andhra Pradesh)

· Just in front of the sanctum sanctorum of Sri Sundareswarar is the Kambathadi Mandapam. The monolith statues there are carved with very great skill. 25 forms of Lord Shiva are shown here. The statue of most famous wedding scene of Meenakshi and Sundareswara is located here. Like one enjoys Michael Angelo’s most famous Creation of Adam painting at Sistine Chapel of Vatican City where one hand reaches the other hand, minute carvings of fingers and hands of three figures-Meenakshi, Shiva and Vishnu on a monolith is really a wonder in stone.

Philadelphia museum-Madurai temple pillars

Madurai temple mandap in Philadelphia,USA


· Near that Kambaththadi Mandap are huge statues of Veera Bhadrar and Bhadrakali. Butter is applied by the devotees continuously for seven hundred years on this huge Kali statue. When a Muslim Fakir started building a mosque in temple land in spite of objection from the devotees, blood came out from the eyes of this Kali statue. Immediately the fakir stopped construction. Just to subdue the anger of Kali butter was thrown on her. This has been going on for centuries now.

· Madurai Meenakshi statue is made of a particular green colour stone called Maragatha Kal. But it is not the precious emerald. Hindus associate green colour with the planet Mercury (Bhudhan). Anyone who has got a weaker Bhudha in their horoscope come to Madurai to cure the evil effects of the planet. It is a Bhudha Kshetra.

· Meenakshi is also associated with the green colour bird parrot. It is in her hand. Till recently a lot of parrots were kept in a big cage inside the temple. Now they are all freed.

· Goddess Meenakshi’s influence is so great even the children born in Madurai are named after her. Even the lullaby the children hear is about Meenakshi.

· Recently a poem written like a drawing (Chiththira Kavi) is discovered inside the temple. The letters are in a circle. If one starts from the middle and read it like we add up numbers in magic squares, the poem will appear in full. This type of poem is called Chiththira Kavi meaning Picture poems or Drawing Poems. It may be squares or circles or pictures of flowers or chariots –anything one could imagine.

· The biggest festival of the temple is called Chitra festival which occurs in April/May every year. It attracts a million people from different parts of India. A big Chariot is pulled through the city by thousands of people. Idols from two other temples also join the God and Goddess.

· Of the 64 divine acts of Shiva a heron, a swallow, pigs, tiger and deer, an elephant, horses and foxes are involved. Shiva blesses not only human beings but also the birds and animals in Madurai.

· The temple precinct measures 850 feet by 730 feet. Though the temple was built in 12th century by Pandya kings, many of the towers date from the date of Tirumala Nayak (1623-1655). All credits go to the Nayak kings.



· Inside the temple there is a tank where a Golden Lotus is floating. Thousands of years ago a merchant by name Dhananjayan saw Indra doing Puja with golden lotus flowers. In memory of this one golden lotus is floated in the tank. The lotus is the National Flower of India.

· Once the poets from the ancient Tamil (Sangam) Academy competed with one another to launch their books inside the temple. The legend is that it wouldn’t allow any unworthy poets to climb the Sangam float or board. It will throw them out. Tiruvalluvar launched his most famous Tamil book Tirukkural in the temple by boarding the Sangam float.


· There is big statue of Lord Ganesh inside the temple. This 6 X 4 feet statue was discovered when the Nayak king was digging the earth for sand and stones for the temple. A big (Mukkuruni) kozukkattai or modak made up of 18 kilo rice and several kilos of jaggery/sugar is offered to it every year on Ganesh Chathurthy day. Kozukkattai or Modak is a steamed rice offering inside which is Puranam made of coconut or other grains.

· Inside the temple there is a wedding hall (Kalyana Mahal) in which two huge circles-Bhugolam and Gagolam- are drawn. The geography of the world is drawn by a famous astrologer.


· When Malikkaffur, the commander of the Delhi Sultan Alauddin Khilji, invaded Madurai region he plundered all the palaces and destroyed the temples. But the clever priests and administrators removed all the priceless idols and jewels to distant places like Kanyakumari and erected a fake sanctum sanctorum. Behind this was the real sanctum sanctorum (Garbha Griham). After Muslim rulers were driven away, the temple authorities opened the temple and the oil lamp was still burning there which was lit 48 years before. The flowers were still fresh. It was recorded in the temple record books called Seethala Puththakam.

· Vijayanagar Empire sent a commander by name Kampanna Vudaiyar who drove away the invaders. His brave wife Ganga Devi accompanied him to the battle field and wrote whatever she saw there in Sanskrit poems. The book is called Madura Vijayam. Her live reports from the battled field beat the modern day BBC and CNN war correspondents. She did it 700 years ago

· Float Festival in January: Every year in January a float festival is held in a near perfect square shaped tank called Mariamman teppakulam. It measures 950 X 1000 feet. In the middle of the tank is a Mandap.

· Palli Arai Deeparadhanai-Going to Bed room and saying Bye Bye for the day is done every night for the god. The god will enter Meenakshi’s bedroom at 10 pm in the night. A lot of people assemble to see this daily event.


· Lord Shiva blesses his devotees in three ways RUPA, ARUPA and RUPARUPA: Form, Formless and shapeless (form but not a shape – Linga). To express this principle there is a festival celebrated every year in Ani Uththiram (June) and Markazi Arudra day. The Nataraja idol is taken to a mandap and a circular mirror is placed in front of the idol. It reflects the idol. On that day Aarti/Deeparaadhana is done to Nataraja idol (RUPA), reflected image in the mirror (ARUPA) and the main god in Linga form in the sanctum sanctorum (RUPA ARUPA). A big principle is explained to the general public with demonstration. One feels like a science student attending a laboratory in the science class.

· Near the God’s Garba Griha is Six pillar mandap where in 108 dance gestures are depicted. In addition to the five musical pillars in the Adi Veethi , we have musical pillar in the Kampaththadi Mandap and 1000 pillar mandap. The sculptors had selected such type of stones to show their skills.

· The jewellery of Goddess Meenakshi is amazing. Each jewel has a story. This is one of the most expensive collections in India.

golden shoes

· There is an interesting story about one of the jewels of Goddess Meenakshi. Rose Peter (1812 to 1828) was one of the District Collectors appointed by the British. One day while he was sleeping there was a big thunder storm in Madurai. A little girl appeared before Rose Peter and asked him to get out of the building as soon as possible. When Rose Peter came out a big lightning struck and destroyed the building. His enquiries led him to identify the figure with Goddess Meenakshi. He was a devotee of Meenakshi. As a token of gratitude he made gem studded golden shoes and donated to Meenakshi. Each shoe weighs 28 tolas (A tola is approximately 11.5 grams). 412 red stones, 72 emeralds, 80 diamonds and cat’s eye, pearls, sapphires four each decorated the shoes.

· Pandya country was famous for its pearl industry. So we can see pearls, pearls nothing but pearls everywhere in jewellery. The biggest and rarest pearl is the size of a Jack fruit seed (in Tamil Pala Kottai). Muthu/pearl Cherukku, Pearl crown top, Pearl mango shaped crown, pearl gown (angi), pearl garland, Pearl kadivaalam, parrot made up of pearls.


· Coronation day (Pattaabisheka) Crown: 197 sovereigns,920 ruby stones,78 diamonds,11 emeralds,7sapphires,8 topaz stones. Donated by Appajirayar.

· Gem studded Sceptre: 98 sovereings,761 red colour stones (ruby and semi precious),74 cats eye(Vaiduryam),21 diamonds,269 emeralds,44 pearls.Donated by Tirumalai Nayak-greatest of the Nayak Dynasty.

· Kaasumalai/coin chain: 198 sovereigns,241 corals,439 pearl and ruby stones,6 sapphires and 2 topaz (Gomethakam).

· Pearl Mughal Crown: 164 sovereigns,332 pearls,red colour stones 474, Emeralds 27 and particular type (Palacha) of diamonds 158 stones.

· Thirimudi Chathu(For Hair decoration ):121 sovereigns 324,red stones , 114 diamonds , 3 sapphires , 2 emeralds, 694 pearls, 2 vaiduryam/cat’s eye stones).

· Golden basket 122 sovereigns, 76 diamonds, red colour stones 342.
· Pottukkaarai (1):77 sovereigns donated by Sivagangai king Sethpathi Katha Thevar 331 rubies and 44 emeralds.
· Pottukkaarai (2): 57 sovereigns 277 red stones, 38 diamonds, emeralds 81. Donated by Ramnad King Bhaskara Sethupathi.
· Coral Chain :16 sovereigns, 64 rubies, 25 pearls.
· Long Coral Chain : 62 sovereigns, 28 red corals.
· Vahana Pendants 2: 93 sovereigns with all the navaratnas ranging from 83 stones to 3 stones.


· Chain of Roman God Coins: The coins are with Roman scripts.48 gold coins with gem stones in between.
· East India Company Gold Coin Chains: 73 coins with English letters.
· Coin chain donated by Nagarathar community weighing 66 sovereigns.
· Gold Sandal bowl with Telugu script on it: 71 sovereigns. Donated by Vijayaranga Chokkanathar.
· Goden statues for the Unjal (swing) festival: Shiva -470 sovereigns, Meenakshi-285 sovereign.

· Nagar waist belt (oddiyanam) 48 sovereigns with 113 rubies28 diamonds, 8 emeralds and 66 pearls.


sapphire pendant

· Neela nayaka pendant: with ten big sapphires and 30 sovereigns.
This was sent to Queen Victoria and brought back. The East India Company sent it to her. The temple records did not throw much light on it.

· Shipping Merchants Scotch Brothers donated 38 kilo silver vessel.

· Two gold pots each weighing 2.3 kilos each.

· DIAMOND CROWN: The recent addition to Meenakshi is a diamond crown made in 1963. The height is 14.5 inches. Diameter is 20 inches.
It weighs 3500 gram with 3345 diamond stones and 4100 red stones and a big ruby.

· Seven kilo god kavacham was made in 1972 with the temple gold.
· A pearl ceiling with 71,755 pearls is used on the Kalyanam (annual wedding festival) day.
· A parrot made up of big pearls.
· A coronation crown for Somaskandar.
· A lot of silver vessels and silver ornaments for other gods and Vahanas are not included in the list.

· There is a big grinding stone for making sandal paste inside the temple. The legend is that one Jain king prevented A Pandya king Murthy Nayanar from getting sandal for the God. Immediately Murthy Nayanar used his hands as sandal and rubbed it on the big stone. Thus the stone became a venerable object. Later he became the king.


· Pudu Mandapam/Vasantha Mandapam is just opposite the temple. The annual Spring Festival (Vasantha Urchavam) used to take place in the hall. A lot of tailors, metal merchants and book sellers occupied this mandap. Now they are vacated and one could see all the marvelous sculptures without any hindrance. If anyone wants to know all the divine acts of Shiva, one can see it in sculptures here. Sculptures of nine Nayak Kings including the great Tirumalai Nayak are here. The dimension of this huge mandap/hall is 333 feet X 105 feet with 124 pillars. Ashmolean Museum has taken replicas of the pillars in copper

Madurai Pudumandapam replica

Replica in Ashmoleon Museum, Oxford, England

· No building higher than the temple is allowed in Madurai within the city. So the majestic towers can be viewed for miles from Madurai.

· Near the Kambathadi mandap there is a pregnant woman statue. Once Shiva helped a pregnant woman to deliver the baby when her mother was held up by a flash flood on the way. Shiva came as her mother. The statue reminds that anecdote. Women who are pregnant make it a point to worship this statue.

· Madurai was a forest full of Kadamba trees 2,000 years ago. There is one Kadamba tree still protected inside the temple, very near Durga statue. Kadamba tree was the temple tree in other towns like Thiruk kadambur, Kadambanthurai. We can see Kadamba trees growing in many other places. This has got many medicinal properties. A Tamil proverb goes as “udambai kadambaal adi“ meaning “Beat your body with Kadambu”. The hidden meaning is “Treat your body with Kadambu”.

· There are 44 epigraphs in the temple. In Kangasabhai next to Kadamba tree there is a musical inscription with Ragas and 35 Talas (Tune and Rhythm).

· In addition to separate shrine for the Navagrahas (nine planets), Navagrahas are carved on the ceiling as well.

· Tirumalai Nayak and his two wives are portrayed in two places inside the temple and outside the temple. But he has made his figures carved on the floor as well. This is just to get the dust of the devotees from their feet. Hindus believe God’s devotees are greater than Gods themselves. Several stories are there to show that God had asked his devotees to get the apologies from the devotees when they were hurt.


· One interesting story is about the chief minister Neelakanda Deekshithar of King Thirumalai Nayak. King had ordered the statues of his family. Great sculptors took the work and executed them to the minute details. But one flaw they couldn’t rectify. A chip from the thigh area of the queen kept on falling off. When it was reported to the chief minister Deekshithar, who was a great Sanskrit scholar and a devotee of Meenakshi came to know through his third eye that the Queen had a big mole in her thigh. He asked the sculptors to leave it as it was. When the king saw the statues consternation flared up instead of admiration. He suspected the integrity of the chief minister and sent his soldiers to arrest him immediately. When king’s soldiers went to his house he was doing final Aarti/ Deepa Aradhana to the God. The soldiers told him the reason for his arrest and he felt so upset and blinded his eyes with Aarti fire. When the king realised his mistake he apologised to the chief minister and gave him all the honours like land and cash. Deekshithar composed a long hymn on Meenakshi and regained his vision by her grace.

· Book Launches: Sacred books are always launched in a temple. According to this ancient custom, Tirukkural of Tiruvalluvar and Meenakshi pillaitamil of Kumara kurubarar were launched in this famous temple.

· Every temple is associated with some siddhas. Madurai temple was associated with Sri Kuzanthaiananda Swamikal and Sri Sundaranandar. One of the four great Saivaite saints Gnana Sambandhar did several miracles in Madurai. Sri Ramana Maharishi went to Tiruvannamalai from Madurai.

· The marvel of ancient engineers came to light when the plan showed that a straight line from the East tower is drawn to the West tower that line will pass through the main god Shiv Linga of the temple. If a line is drawn between the South and North towers that will divide the Gods sanctum sanctorum in to two halves. So precise is the plan.

ashmolean,Madurai replica

· When A Meenakshi temple was built in Houston, Texas, USA one of the statues was sent to Houston as a gift. The head priest from Madurai temple took it on the plane which crashed near Bombay. Though several people were killed in the accident, the head priest escaped without an injury. The idol was intact and sent to Houston for installation in 1982. The Houston temple follows the same rituals as in Madurai.

· The Pandya and later day Nayak kings ruled as representatives of Goddess Meenakshi. So every year the king will come to the temple and take the sceptre from the goddess in a ceremony and return it the next day. Nowadays they do it with the temple administrator instead of king. Sceptre is called Sengol in Tamil.

· The last and third Tamil Academy of ancient Tamil Nadu was held in Madurai. At that time 49 famous poets were there in the academy. All the 49 poets are sculpted and kept inside the temple room. On the northern bank of the Golden Lotus Tank Sangam poets are sculpted with books and stylus.

· God’s sanctum sanctorum (garba griha) was constructed as if it is born by 8 elephants, 32 lions and 64 ganas. Till 50 years ago the sun light was falling on the god exactly on Pongal (Major festival celebrated on Thai first corresponding to 14th January). But after the construction of several new buildings around the temple it did not happen.

· Shops inside: There are lots of colourful shops inside the temple selling from bangles to children’s toys.

· Visitors can enter by any of the four gateways in the temple. But locals always start from the eastern entrance. One will enter Ashta Sakthi mandap first where goddess is sculpted in her eight (Ashta) forms. Then they reach the area full of shops where a lamp holder has 1008 lamps made up of metal. It was donated by the freedom fighters Marudu Brothers who fought against the British.

· The temple has 16 pillar, 100 pillar, and 1000 pillar mandaps ,each explaining some principle according to the Vastu Shastras.


Falous sculpture of Meenakshi Wedding madu up of monolith (One stone).

Photos: Courtesy of Temple Kumbabhisheka souvenirs
Posted 14th October 2011 by Swaminathan

1800 ஆண்டுக்கு முந்தைய தமிழகக் கோவில்கள்

TPK temple silpi

Picture of Tirupparankundram drawn by Silpi from Ananda Vikatan magazine


1800 ஆண்டுக்கு முந்தைய தமிழகக் கோவில்கள்

தமிழர்கள் மிகவும் தெய்வ பக்தி உடையவர்கள். திருக் குறளின் முதல் அதிகாரமான கடவுள் வாழ்த்திலேயே பத்து குறள்களில் முத்து முத்தாகக் இறை வழிபாட்டைக் கோர்த்து வைத்துவிட்டார். அது மட்டுமல்ல, பத்து குறள்களில் ஏழு குறள்களில் இறைவனின் பாதங்களில் (தாள், அடி) நமஸ்காரம் செய்தும் எழுதிவிட்டார். உருவ வழிபாட்டுக்குரிய விக்ரகங்கள் அவர் கண் முன்னர் இருந்ததால்தான் இப்படி பாத நமஸ்காரம் செய்யும் 7 குறள்களை எடுத்த எடுப்பிலேயே எழுதிவிட்டார்.


இவருக்கு முன்வந்த தொல்காப்பியரோ, வேத கால தெய்வங்களான இந்திரன் (வேந்தன்) வருணன், விஷ்ணு (மாயோன்), ஸ்கந்தன்/ சேயோன் (சிவப்பு நிறமானவன்) ஆகியோரே தமிழர்களின்  தெய்வங்கள் என்று அடித்துச் சொல்லிவிட்டார்.


பல பாடல்களில் இறைவனின் வாகனங்களையும், கொடிகளையும் நக்கீரர், காவிரிப் பூம்பட்டிணத்து காரிக்கண்ணனார் ஆகியோர் சித்தரிப்பதால் கட்டாயம் சிலைகளுடன் கூடிய கோவில்கள் இருந்திருக்க வேண்டும். ஐந்து ஆறாம் நூற்றாண்டு முதல் ஒன்பதாம் நூற்றாண்டு வரை, –காரைக்கால் அம்மையார் முதல் சுந்தரர் வரை– ஊர் ஊராகச் சென்று பாடிய தலங்களே சுமார் 300 தலங்கள் ஆகும். இவர்களுக்கு முன் வாழ்ந்த மாணிக்கவாசகர் கூறும் சில தலங்கள் என்ன வென்றே கண்டுபிடிக்க முடியவில்லை. ஆழ்வார்களும் நூற்றுக்கும் மேலான தலங்களைப் பாடிவிட்டனர். இப்படி 400, 500 இடங்களில் புகழ்பெற்ற கோவில்கள் இருந்து, அவர்களை ஊர் ஊராக பாத யாத்திரை செய்ய வைத்தது என்றால், அந்தக் கோவில்கள் அவர்களுக்கும் முன்னரே பல காலமாக இருந்திருக்க வேண்டும்.


சங்க இலக்கியமான திருமுருகாற்றுப்படையில் அறு படை வீடுகளைக் காண்கிறோம். பரிபாடலில் தாமரை வடிவில் அமைந்த மதுரை நகரின் மத்தியில் கோவில் இருந்ததைப் படிக்கிறோம். ஆக 1800 ஆண்டுகளுக்கு முன்னரே தமிழர் வாழ்வில் கோவில்கள் இரண்டறக் கலந்துவிட்டன.


இதோ பழந்தமிழ் இலக்கியத்தில் காணப்படும் கோவில் பட்டியல்:

“பிறவா யாக்கைப் பெரியோன் கோவிலும்

அறுமுகச் செவ்வேள் அணிதிகழ் கோயிலும்

வால்வளை மேனி வாலியோன் கோயிலும்

நீலமேனி நெடியோன் கோயிலும்

மாலை வெண்குடை மன்னவன் கோயிலும்” (சிலம்பு)


“ அமரர் தருக் கோட்டம் வெள்யானை கோட்டப்

புகர் வெள்ளை நாகர்தம் கோட்டம் பகல்வாயில்

உச்சிக்கிழான் கோட்டம் ஊர்க் கோட்டம் வேற் கோட்டம்

வச்சிரக் கோட்டம் புறப்பணையான் வாழ் கோட்டம்

நிக்கந்தன் கோட்டம் நிலாக் கோட்டம்” (சிலம்பு)




Picture of Alagar Koil drawn by Silpi for Ananda Viaktan


பூம்புகார் எனப்படும் புகாரில் இருந்த கோவில்கள்:

1.பிறவா யாக்கைப் பெரியோன் கோயில்= சிவ பெருமான் கோவில்

2.அறுமுகச் செவ்வேள் அணிதிகழ் கோயில் = முருகன் கோவில்

3.வால்வளை மேனி வலியோன் கோயில் = பலராமன் கோவில்

4.நீலமேனி நெடியோன் கோவில் = கண்ண பிரான் கோயில்

5.மாலை வெண்கொடை மன்னவன் கோயில்= இந்திரன் கோவில்

6.அமரர்தருக் கோட்டம்= கற்பகத் தரு கோட்டம்

7.வெள்யானை கோட்டம்= ஐராவதம்/யானை கோவில்

8.புகர்வெள்ளை நாகர்தம் கோட்டம்= பலதேவன்

9.பகல்வாயில் உச்சிக்கிழான் கோட்டம்= சூரிய தேவன் கோவில்

10.ஊர்க்கோட்டம்= ஊர் காவல் தெய்வமக் கோவில்

11.காமவேள் கோட்டம்= மன்மதன் கோவில்


12.வேற்கோட்டம்= முருகன் கோவில்

13.வச்சிரக் கோட்டம்=இந்திரனின் வஜ்ராயுதக் கோவில்

14.புறப்பனையான் வாழ் கோட்டம்= ஐயனார் கோவில்

15.நிக்கந்தன் கோட்டம் = அருகன் கோவில்

16.நிலாக் கோட்டம்= சந்திரன் கோவில்

இவை அனைத்தும் சிலப்பதிகாரத்தில் காணப்படுபவை.

17 முதல் 22 வரை சங்க இலக்கியமான திருமுருகாற்றுப்படையில் அறு படை வீடுகள் திருப்பரங்குன்றம், திருச்சீரலைவாய் (செந்தூர்), திரு ஆவினன் குடி (பழனி), திருவேரகம் (சுவாமிமலை), குன்றுதோராடல்(திருத்தணி) , பழமுதிர்ச்சோலை( அழகர் கோவில்)


23.மதுரை நகர் கோவில்

மாயோன் கொப்பூழ் மலர்ந்த தாமரை

பூவொடு புரையும் சீறுர் பூவின்

இதழகத்தனைய தெருவம் இதழகத்து

அரும்பொகுட்டனைத்தே அண்ணல் கோயில் (பரிபாடல்)


பாண்டிய மன்னன் பல்யாகசாலை முதுகுடுமிப் பெருவழுதியின் வெண்குடை மதுரை நகரின் கோயிலை வலம் வரும்போது மட்டும் தாழ்வாக இருக்குமாம். பிராமணர்கள் வாழ்த்தும் போது மட்டும் அவன் தலை தாழுமாம் (புறநானூறு பாட்ல 6, காரிகிழார்)


பணியியர் அத்தை நின்குடையே; முனிவர்

முக்கண் செல்வர் நகர்வலம் செயற்கே!

இறைஞ்சுக, பெரும, நின் சென்னி; சிறந்த

நான்மறை முனிவர் ஏந்துகை எதிரே! (புறம்.6)


இது தவிர கொல்லிப் பாவை முதலிய தெய்வங்கள் பற்றிய குறிப்புகளும், குமரிக் கடற்கரை தெய்வம் பற்றிய குறிப்பும் சங்க இலக்கியத்தில் உள்ளன.


கொடிகள் , வாகனங்கள் பற்றிய எனது கட்டுரைகளையும் படிக்கவும்:

1.சங்க இலக்கியத்தில் வாகனங்கள்

2.Flags of Ancient Indian Kings

3.Hindu Vahanas in Kalidasa and Tamil Literature


(இலக்கியத் திருடர்களுக்கு அன்பான வேண்டுகோள்: இந்தக் கட்டுரையை வேறு இடத்தில் பயன்படுத்துவதானால் ‘பிளாக்’-கின் பெயரையோ கட்டுரையாளர் (லண்டன் சுவாமிநாதன்) பெயரையோ வெளியிடுங்கள். பெயர் இல்லாமல் தங்கள் கட்டுரை போல வெளியிடுவது–தமிழுக்கும், தமிழ் எழுத்தாளர்களுக்கும் செய்யும் துரோகம் ஆகும்)


Following pictures were taken by me at Perumal (Vishnu) temple in Madurai and Murugan Temple at Tirupparankundram. Following  are my research articles on Vahanas posted in the past one year or so. Please read them to get more information about Mounts of Gods and Goddesses:

My Articles on VAHANAS (Mounts of GODS):
வாகனங்கள் தோன்றியது எங்கே?
எந்தக் கடவுளுக்கு என்ன வாகனம்?
காளை வாகனம் எப்படிக் கிடைத்தது?
Vahanas in Kalidasa and Ancient Tamil Literature
Hindu Vahanas Around the World
Hindu Vahanas in Italy and Greece
Vahanas on Coins and in Sculptures
Interesting Facts About Vahanas
Seven Gods Procession on Vahanas
Who Rides on What Vahana (Animal or Bird)?




Tirupparangkundram Temple Pictures

Tirupparankundram is one of the Six Shrines of Lord Skanda Murugan. This town is near Madurai and as old as Madurai. I visit this shrine every year during my India visit. Last week I went to the temple at Tiruparankundram and took these pictures:


Temple Entrance

Drummer Statue


Patanjali Maharishi

Nayak King

Krishna’s  statue



Colourful Sudhais

Nayak King

Saravana  poykai



Vali side view


Mountedcourse wanted


Stone horse at the entrance

Veda Patasala

Sangu Sales

Coconut and Fruis

Long Drum Player


Yanai vahanam

Saravanap Poyhai Nagars

Book shop inside the temple.

Herbal powders

Madurai Temple Photos


Details of all the pictures are available in this blog:

1.   The Wonder that is Madurai Meenakshi Temple
2.  Musical Pillars in Hindu Temples
3.  Acoustic Marvel of  Madurai Temple.















Temple Visit ‘good for health’

Temple Visit ‘good for health’: College girls’ proved it

The Indian Express, Januray 1, 1983

Why go to temples for worship, when the same spiritual experience could be had at home in the pooja (prayer) room? For reasons of health temple worship is as good a health trip as it is spiritual. This is sought to be proved by a series of interesting experiments at the tourist trade fair now being held in Madras (December 31, 1982).


Teachers and students of Parasakthi Women’s college, Courtallam at the HR and CE stall in the fair through a set of experiments using laboratory gadgets reason out a scientific interpretation of the chanting of Slokas (hymns), the Abhisheka (bathing) of the idol and the offerings of fruits and leaves made to the gods. “Temple worship has a definite scientific reasoning behind it”, the assistant professor in charge said.


First the viewers are explained how there is a proportionate configuration to the sanctum sanctorum (inner chamber) and the idol it houses. The sanctorum is structured in such a way that the idol inside reflects any sound waves to the maximum effect. A tuning fork is vibrated in the hall with little sound reproduction, but when it is struck and placed before the entrance of small model of sanctorum a loud hum is heard. And the forks invariably produce a sound resembling the Hindu chant OM (Aum). The lecturer explained that among the various chants OM has the largest resonant effect and displaces a sizeable amount of atmosphere inside the sanctorum. This was possible only when the sanctorum and the idol are made of granite stone, as in most of the temples.

Next it is explained how the presence of ions increases amidst conditions other than in a dry one using a condenser to infer why the sanctum sanctorum is always kept moist  by pouring water over the idol and washed with water continuously. Similarly the conductivity of the stone idol also increases when it is moist. This is demonstrated by measuring the conductivity of a dry granite stone and that of a wet idol.


The materials used for Abisheka (bathing) of the idol increase the conductivity of the stone, through their own values. PH value of a substance is the negative ion concentration it possesses and most of the materials  used for Abisheka – milk, curd ,sandal paste, turmeric powder, vermillion powder, vibhuti/holy ash are of high PH values. And when these are poured over the idols they not only increase the conductivity of the idol but also ionise it.


A resistance reading on an Ohmeter of the idol after all these elements are poured shows the increased conductivity of the idol. The chanting of the Mantras, more frequently OM sets the air column inside vibrating and the highly sensitised idol conducts the ions of the Abisheka substance to the moist atmosphere. With the lighting of the camphor during the Deeparadhana (Arti) displaces the air which is partially charged with ions and these ions are inhaled by the devotees inside the sanctorum, the lecturer explained. These negative ions have the physiological function of fixing the oxygen with haemoglobin in the blood. They are concentrated on beaches and mountain tops at early mornings which explain doctor’s advice to heart patients for early morning beach walks.


The final inference, it is explained that a devotee’s presence in the sanctorum during Abishekas helps his physical system inducting more negative ions than he usually inhales. A visit to the temple is a good substitute for a morning walk, and a tonic for health.


But with temples becoming over crowded it wouldn’t be a wonder if these negative ions are submerged by excessive carbon di oxide  exhaled in packed sanctorum which is meant  to house only ten people at a time. Similarly the chanting of OM has also been reduced to a more inaudible mumble affecting its highly resonant quality.


Other scientific aspects of Hindu religion are also demonstrated by the enthusiastic lot. The posture of Nataraja for example though externally represents the asymmetric make-up of planets of the solar system the symmetry of the simple harmonic motion of the solar system is explained by rotating the statue on two vertical pins fixed at the statue’s head and the sole of the right foot; similarly the evolution of man through the Ten Avatars of Lord Vishnu.  A parallel experiment to the musical pillars at some temples is also demonstrated.

The Indian Express, January 1, 1983.

Swami Harshananda

Swami Harshananda in his book Hinduism through Questions and Answers says: “once it is conceded that God exists, there must be an easy means of approaching Him and propitiating Him. That is the temple. The temple is the structure we put up with devotion for the residence of God when He descends to this world for our sake. It is something like camping of the king of a country in a part of his territory.

The structure of a temple is highly symbolical. Primarily it indicates God as a Cosmic Person. Alternatively it represents the body of man, with God residing in his heart. The temple may represent the whole creation.

In temples consecrated according to scriptural rites, the images are considered to be alive. Hence formal worship is a must. Those who want to visit the temple are expected to enter it physically clean and with the proper mood of faith and devotion. If worship is performed with faith and devotion, it generates peace and joy in our minds”.

When people of same faith come together it is easy to concentrate and meditate on God. The atmosphere is surcharged with devotion and the effect is manifold.


Swami Ramakrishna Paramahamsa

The milk of the cow in reality pervades the whole of the body of the animal through its blood, but you cannot milk it by squeezing its ears or the horns; you can get the milk only from the teats. Similarly God pervades the universe everywhere, but you cannot see him everywhere. He manifests more readily in sacred temples which are full of the spirit of devotion diffused by the lives and spiritual practices of the devotees of former times.


From time immemorial, numberless Sadhus , devotees and men of realisation have come to these holy places to have a vision of god, and have prayed to him  in an outpouring of their hearts, setting aside all worldly desires therefore god has equally present everywhere, manifests himself specially in these places.


Water can be had anywhere by digging into the earth, when, however, there is a well or a tank or a lake, one has not to dig for water, but can get it whenever one likes to have it”—-Ramakrishna Paramahamsa


Please read my earlier posts

1. Two Million Gods in India by Mark Twain

2.100, 008 temples in India


Acoustic Marvel of Madurai Temple

( Based on Madurai ‘Indian Express’ News Report on 30th July 1981)

Ancient Tamils have used the principles of “vibration of bodies” in constructing musical pillars in Madurai Meenakshi Temple, according to a study made by a team of ENT specialists in Tamil Nadu on the acoustic beauty of this glorious temple.


The sculptors have cleverly varied the length and diameter of the pillars to obtain different musical sounds choosing the right type of stone. By using the same stone, but by varying the shape, they were able to achieve it.

Besides the medical team led by Dr S Kameswaran, Project Director and Chief of the ENT institute in General Hospital, Madurai, geologists, musicologists and audiologists took part in the research. HRCE of Tamil Nadu Government funded this research project.


The study team is of the view that the temple is an ‘acoustic marvel’. The noise level at the Ashta Sakthi Mandapam situated near the road was only 40 decibels during non visiting hours. Near the Lotus Tank and adjoining sanctum sanctorum (Garba Gruha), the sound level is again in the order of 40 DB. With this ambient noise it is possible for a person to contemplate and meditate the divinity. The sound level recorded during the peak hours in the evening is of the order of 70 to 80 DB. What is remarkable is there is absolutely no echo in any part of the temple and even with all the crowd around, the sound level seldom exceeds 80DB. There is built in mechanism for containing the echo and at the same time, the total noise does not exceed a specific level.


The artisans who built this huge temple must have been aware of the basic principles of acoustics. The huge icons on the unpolished pillars, the distribution of vents, the allocation of open spaces all around, are all mechanisms to contain the noise level, says the study team.

Again, the Hall of Thousand Pillars is a classical example of perfect sound engineering technique. The hall has got very low ceiling with 985 pillars—each pillar averaging about 12 feet in height. All are exactly of the same size and shape and at mathematically accurate positions. Many can sit in this echo resistant hall to hear the entire proceedings in quietitude.


The team which also studied the architectural beauty of the Meenakshi Temple saw an interesting feature of the floor in Kambaththadi Mandapam in the outer prakaram (corridor)  in front of the Lord Sundareswarar. One finds large square slabs arranged from end to end covering conduits carrying drinking and drainage water separately and admired the perfect example of hygienic planning of the ancient architects. Even in recent times, with heavy downpour, one seldom sees stagnation of water inside the Mandapam.



Contact (Pictures are used from other websites. Thanks)

Musical Pillars in Hindu Temples

Picture of Hampi Temple with Musical Pillars.

Pictures are taken from other websites. Thanks.

Hindu Temples of India are architectural wonders. Each sculptor has shown his genius in the temple sculptures and carvings in his own way. Every temple has something to boast about. Modern engineers marvel at Indian temples and wonder how they built without the modern tools thousand years ago. Temples like Madurai Meenakshi temple contain thousands of statues.


South Indian temples stand unique in certain aspects. The Nayak kings of Vijayanagara Empire made unique contribution to art and architecture of South India in the past. Musical pillars found in five or more temples are Nayak’s contribution. The most famous Musical Pillars are in Sri Vittala Temple in Hampi in Karnataka. There are musical pillars in Madurai Meenakshi Temple, Nellaiyappar Temple in Tirunelveli, Thanumalayan Temple in Suchindrum and Adhinathar temple at Alwartirunagari in Tamil Nadu.

Musical Pillars are standing testimony to Hindu art. The sculptors have invested their sculptural and musical skills in them. Sri Vijaya Vittala temple was built in 15th century. It has got 56 musical pillars also known as SAREGAMA  pillars. Sa, Re, Ga, Ma are four of the seven musical notes.

Scores of articles, books and research papers have been written on these pillars. H.A.Patil has submitted one research paper on Hampi temple. Following is the gist:


“ In this paper, we present the spectral analysis of the sound recorded from a musical pillar at Vitthala temple, Hampi – a world heritage site in Karnataka. The pillars in this temple have musical columns which produce sounds of different musical instruments when struck with a thumb (i.e., a kind of impulse-like excitation). The sound recorded from a pillar is found to produce bell-like sound. In addition, an analysis is presented to model dynamics of such columns in a pillar to find the flexural frequencies along with its eigenmodes. It was observed that there is close correlation between spectral (i.e., resonance) characteristics of bell-like sound from pillar and actual bell sound. The measured frequencies of pillar have also been found to be in close agreement with flexural frequencies derived from Euler-Bernoulli beam model and energy separation algorithm (ESA) based on Teager’s energy operator. This model correctly predicts the resonant frequencies of the bell-like sound from the musical columns of the pillar”.

In the Nellaiappar Temple at Tirunelveli there are four  musical pillars. They have a central pillar around which there are 48 small cylindrical pillars of varying girth. When they are taped they give different sounds. When pillar is tapped, there are sympathetic vibrations from the neighbouring pillars.

In the Thanumalayan temple at Suchibram, there are four musical pillars. The central pillar is surrounded by 24 or 33 small pillars.

In the Adhinathar temple at Alwartirunagari, tow musical pillars are found.

Picture of Musical Pillars in Tirunelveli Temple

Madurai Meenakshi Temple is considered one of the 100 Wonders of the world ( Please read my post THE WONDER THAT IS MADURAI MEENAKSHI TEMPLE). The five musical pillars inside the temple are known to many. They are monoliths. Large central pillar is surrounded by 22 small pillars.

There are small pillars in Sivan Koil of Shenbagarama Nallur near Nanguneri in Tail Nadu.  They emit the sound of conch or horn if wind is blown in to the holes.

Please read about the Stone Nagaswaram of Alwartiru Nagari temple and Ivory nagaswaram of Tiruvarur temple in my earlier article 100 WONDERS OF TAMIL NADU. One foot long stone nagaswaram of this temple is made of granite. It has got seven notes.


Mr K K Pillai has written about Suchindram musical pillars in depth in his book on the Thanumalayan temple. He gives the follwig details:

“The two northern groups present each a cluster of 24 pillars, while the southern ones present each a cluster of 33. A striking feature is that all the pillars of each group, together with the exquisitely carved turret at the top of each group are chiselled out of a single rock of granite. A tap on each of the pillars in a group produces different sound”. He added that the quality of sound is not as good as Tirunelveli Musical pillars.


Medical Team’s Study of Meenakshi Temple Musical Pillars

A study team led by Dr S Kameswaran, Chief of the Ent Institute in the Madurai General Hospital has analysed the musical pillars in the above temples in 1981( Indian Express news report ,July 30, 1981).The cluster of pillars carved out of a huge block of resonant stone was played upon with two sticks, provided with a hard striking knob at the ends. The performers stood on opposite sides and played on pillars. Solo music as well as accompaniment was provided by them. Rhythmic accompaniment was given to performances of dance by playing jatis, hols on them; The tone colou of the notes emanating from the pillars resembles the tone colour of the ‘Thala Alangaram’.


The peak of excellence has been reached at the musical pillars in Suchindram. The study of these pillars with a high fidelity tape-recorder, wooden plant and inch tape included physical measurement of the pillar, sound recording and analysis and identifying modal points. The analysis of the rock sample (from the pillars) was done at the geology department of Presidency college, Chennai. According to Geology Professor Dr Subramanina, the rock rich in silica, is fairly abundant in Hospet near Hampi in Karnataka.

A book has been published by a research scholar on Music Pillars in Temples ( in English) long ago.