Thousand Pillar Hall – An Acoustic Marvel in Madurai Meenakshi Temple(Post No.3632)

Written by S NAGARAJAN

 

Date: 13 February 2017

 

Time uploaded in London:-  5-27 am

 

 

Post No.3632

 

 

Pictures are taken from different sources; thanks.

 

contact: swami_48@yahoo.com

 

  1. Nagarajan

India is very famous for its temples. Thousands and thousands of temples were built and maintained from time immemorial. The sculptures and the building techniques will speak itself the glory of the great tradition.

Madurai is situated at 462 kilometers south of Chennai (Madras as it was known in earlier times). The famous Meenakshi Amman Temple is located in the centre of the city. Inside the temple there are famous halls like Marriage Hall, Thousand Pillar Hall etc.

The Thousand Pillar Hall is very famous for its beautiful construction.

The hall, even though called as thousand pillar hall, it has only 985 pillars. The pillars are erected in such a way as to fall in line from any angle we view. .

In the year 1983, an expert team from audiology department went in to the hall and carried out an extensive study. They have used latest scientific gadgets and found that there is absolutely no echo in any part of the temple even with all the crowd around the sound level seldom exceed 80 dB (decibel)

Naturally the noise level in a quiet surrounding will be 40 dB, in a crowded street about 80-85 dB and at the airport when a jet aircraft takes off, it will be about 100 dB.

According to the team headed by Dr Kameswaran, an ENT specialist, there appears to be a built in mechanism in the precincts of Madurai temple for containing the echo. The total noise does not exceed a specific level which would make it unpleasant to the visitors.

The temple is an acoustic marvel, observed the experts. Near the road there is one Ashta Shakti Hall. There the noise level is only 40 dB.

 

The team members said that with this ambient noise it is possible for a person to contemplate and meditate the Divinity.

Roughly about 5000 to 6000 people visit the temple daily. And the sound level recorded during the peak hours is of the order of 70 dB to 80 dB.

It implies that the artisans were aware of the basic principles of acoustics. The huge icons on the unpolished pillars, the distribution of vents, the allocation of open space all around, are all mechanisms to contain the noise level. The arrangements are so made that is not crude but there is an artistic planning combining utility with beauty. This arrangement strangely contrasts with arrangement made in certain modern buildings where instruments for breaking noise and absorbing sound are hung from the roof in a very clumsy and unartistic manner.

This hall is a classic example of perfect sound engineering technique. The average height of each pillar is about 12 feet. The pillars depicts four kinds of motifs, one consisting of moulded squares, the other with rampant dragon, the third with a figure of a deity and the fourth that of a donor or his family. The unpolished pillars of exactly of same size and shape are placed at mathematically accurate positions. These aspects have made the hall echo resistant.

In addition, the pillars are so peculiarly arranges that anyone sitting at a specific spot could view a central figure without any obstruction in any position. At any position inside the hall, in consequence to the arrangement of the pillars, there open up around us 16 colonnades of varying width and such length of each side that the perspective afforded by them is simply marvelous.

The expert team rightly described the thousand pillar hall as an acoustic marvel.

Thousands of such intricate wonders are hidden in these Indian temples.

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MORE RARE HINDUISM PICTURES FROM TWO OLD BOOKS (Post No.3289)

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Written by London Swaminathan

 

Date: 25 October 2016

 

Time uploaded in London: 20-46

 

Post No.3289

 

 

I have already posted two sets of pictures and line drawings. Here are some more pictures: –

 

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Picture of Ganga Devi

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Both are Ayyanar=Sastha; he dubbed one as Aryan and another as Dravidian! This is how foreigners did the Divide and Rule (the world)

 

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Panchagni Yajna picture (Doing penance by sitting sorrounded by Five Fires; sun is the fire above our head. Hidnu Yogis do this. Parvati did this according to Kalidasa’s Kumara Sambhava.

 

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Sacred Cows

 

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Maharani (Princess) on the cart

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Hindu Yogi

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Picture of Madurai Teppakulam Festival (below)

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E.Alexander Powell in his book The Last Home of Mystery (Year 1929) was very critical of Madurai Temple. He described it as House of Horrors and he described the Golden Lily tank filthy. When the whole world praised the temple, he criticised it; this shows his immaturity.

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Picture of Kandy Kings (See below)img_5734

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.
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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.

 

Please read my earlier post : THE WONDER THAT IS MADURAI MEENAKSHI TEMPLE

 

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