The Hanging Pillar at Lepakshi, Andhra Pradesh

There was a rant on TV.

Something about a temple with seventy pillars. Something about one of those pillars hanging upside down. Nonsensical. They talk about it almost as if it should be easily believable, but would you believe it?

You might chuckle at the hypocrisy because this is a similar rant which poses a fairly simple question.

“Would you believe it?”

Don’t waste your time nodding.

Now, what if you were told that the entire temple stands because of this one hanging pillar, then believing it would be practically impossible.

Everyone has heard of pillars being used as foundation stones upon which huge buildings or structures are erected. Pillars that strengthen a monument. Pillars that are the life of stone and concrete. But a pillar that hangs from a ceiling?

The deeper question is, why any engineer would allow the structure of a monument bear the weight of one whole pillar when the very purpose of the pillar is to provide a foundation to its base. And if this hanging pillar is considered to be a burden, then why the slightest tampering with it does, endanger the entire structure.

Answers to all these questions lie within the 400 year old Veerabhadra Swamy temple at Lepakshi in Andhra Pradesh. It is said that the British brought an abundance of knowledge and science to our shores. But when one of their esteemed engineers tried to research the secret behind the hanging pillar, he too was stumped. His knowledge of science was completely dwarfed by this truly magical creation. And according to his reports the hanging pillar turned out to be the base of the entire temple. When he tried damaging this hanging pillar, it turned out to be detrimental to the other pillars too.

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It is said that this pillar was separated from the ground by quite a distance. But the temerity of British engineer Hamilton brought it just a bit closer to the surface and now it hangs by a needle’s edge. It’s been over a hundred years now since Hamilton tried to break the pillar in order to understand its mysteries. And this attempt to find the truth shook the very foundations of the temple. As the hanging pillar came closer to the surface, a few of the other pillars developed cracks in them. Eventually, this enquiry even further complicated the texture of the temple.

It is truly difficult to comprehend what knowledge holds the architecture of this building together. Nobody till now is able to decipher this mystery. Apart from the hanging pillar, this Lepakshi temple also has a lot of other awe-strucking architecture and lore behind it. The temple features many exquisite sculptures of Gods, Goddesses, dancers and musicians, and hundreds of paintings all over the walls, columns and ceiling. At the front of the temple is a large Nandi (bull), which is carved from a single block of stone. But people from all over the world visit this temple for only one reason, and we all know what it is.

Written By: Devashish

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