Marvelous Musical Pillars in Hindu Temples

If you have time you can find hundreds of wonderful sculptures in all major Hindu temples in India.

One among those wonders is Musical Pillars.

Enter through North gate of Madurai Meenakshi Amman temple. On your left you will find marvelous Musical Pillars. Since all the visitors abused the pillars with granites and hammers, the pillar has been protected by fence.

What is a musical pillar? Around a bigger central column are clustered smaller shafts; each having different thickness and differently fluted, produces different notes when struck with a hard substance like a pebble or hammer or with rubber head.

Sha, Ri, Ka, Ma, Pa, Dha, Ni, Sha are the basic seven notes in Karnatic Music. These note could be produced in these wonderful pillars.

A team headed by Dr Kameswaran,an ENT specialist in1983 made a thorough analysis on them at Madurai Meenakshi Temple, South India.

Computer analysis of the sounds produced by the musical pillars shows that the principles of vibration of bodies have been applied in the construction of these pillars. The length and diameter of the pillars have been cleverly varied to obtain different musical sounds. Several musical pillars have been carved in the same stone each producing different sounds. This has been achieved by varying the length, diameter and shape of the musical pillars. A geological analysis of the musical pillars reveal that the rock is a common variety found in what is known as the Archaean formations (oldest formation) of South India. This particular rock is fairly abundant near Hospet. It is a rock rich in Silica. Alumina, Potash and Soda are the other important constituents. Iron content is not high. Ultrasonic instruments were used by the team for rock sampling.

There is an excellent article written by Dr T. Marimuthu in 1994 about these pillars. He has made a thorough research on the pillars and has given full wonderful details.

According to him, these are not found in earlier Chola, Pandya, Chera built temples. The pillars are appearing from the period of Vijayanagar empire.

The pillars are found in very many temples and each temple has its own mode of design and construction of musical pillars.

A remarkable and thinnest pillar of diameter 4 cm and length 1.6 metre is found in Thanumalaya Perumal Temple at Suchindram near Cape Comorin.

These pillars are found in many temples including Alwarthirunagari Temple, Thirunelveli Nellaiappar temple in Southern Part of India.

It is a pleasure to see these pillars and hear the music produced by them. Recently Musicians, Scientists, Engineers, Sculpturers are all evincing keen interest in musical pillars. According to their profession they are giving wonderful new information which makes us feel proud about these standing monuments for artistic, architectural, scientific, engineering, technical and technological talent of our ancient artisans.