Friday, June 13, 2014

Mystery of Delhi Iron Pillar: Where It Was Originally Erected?

Delhi Iron Pillar 1
The technology and skill possessed by ancient Indians is amazing and the Iron Pillars that stands in New Delhi, India,dates from the Gupta dynasty 320-540 AD indicates that it has not yet been rusted or corroded inspite of being exposed to the harsh climate.

 This shows how advanced science was in ancient India. It weighs six tonnes and is around seven meters high. The secret of its stability could not be identified even after using the modern analysis technique which led Erich von Daeniken to mention about the pillar as well as other writers who believed that there was more to learn about ancient cultures than what the orthodox teachings related to them.

The Pillar stands at the centre of the Quwwatul Mosque, near Qutub Minar, which is not the original site of the pillar and is one of Delhi’s most curious structures highlighting ancient India’s achievements in metallurgy.The iron pillar at Delhi has fascinated many all over the world due to its amazing resistance to atmospheric corrosion.

Superior Quality Raw Iron 

Delhi Iron Pillar 2
The pillar is made of 98 percent from superior quality raw iron in contrast to any other iron artifacts which are usually made using a mould and forged using a hammer which is evident from the forging marks that are present on the surface.

It is presumed to have stood 1,600 years without decomposing or accumulating any kind of rust. It stands 7 m tall with one meter below the ground and the diameter is 48 centimetres at the foot, tapering to 29 cm at the top just below the base of this amazingly crafted structure.

 It was manufactured by forged welding and has an inscription stating that it was erected as a flagstaff in honour of the Hindu god, Vishnu and in the memory of the Gupta King Chandragupta II.

Present Location a Mystery

Dhar Iron Pillars
Iron Pillars at Dhar
As per evidence found, the pillars were originally not located at its present location but had been moved from another place which is supported by evidence of the absence of other relics of the 4th century found in the vicinity. Locals believe that the pillars were brought to Delhi by Anangpal Tomar king who had contributed in building the city of Delhi around 1020 AD.

The surface of the pillar has an inscription which states that the pillar was originally located in an area called Vishnupadagiri which means `hill with footprint of Lord Vishnu’. The region was later identified as Udayagiri which is a town situated in central India, 50 km east of Bhopal.

The possibility of the original site of Delhi iron pillar being Udayagiri is based on detailed analysis of astronomical, architectural, iconographical and archaeological aspects of the Udayagiri site.

Astronomical – Significance and Importance

Delhi Iron Pillar 3
The significance and importance of Udayagiri from the astronomical point of view, is that it had been established for the first time during the Gupta period, by Dass from various archaeological evidences. Moreover the location is much closer to the important places of ancient central India such as Sanci, Besnagar and Vidisa.

Visnupadagiri, the ancient name of Udayagiri has great connection with astronomical observations and it is mentioned in the fourteen chapter of the Surya Siddhanta as one of ancient India’s foremost astronomical treaties where different methods of measurement of times have been documented.

As this site seemed astronomically suitable, it would have been proper to anticipate that the pillar could have been located at this location with regards to the cardinal direction as well as some important caves.Evidence shows that the decorative capital of Delhi iron pillar could have originally been topped with the image of the chakra where the meaning and symbolism of different components of pillars which have been topped with the chakra image,have also been elaborated. With regards to the iron pillar, the chakra which symbolises the cakravartins’ wheel could have symbolised the cakravartin powers of Visu.

Pillar Having Strange Inscriptions

Delhi Iron Pillar 4
The first report on the pillars came from a British soldier known as Captain Archer who stated that there was a pillar with strange inscriptions on it which could not be interpreted by anybody. The Delhi iron pillar is an engineering marvel which was conceded by the president of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers, London and the professor of materials and metallurgical engineering at IIT-Kanpur, Balasubramaniam unravelled the mystery on the mysterious durability of Delhi’s iron pillar.

According to him, unnamed engineers during that period used the film forming quality of phosphoric acid in creating a thin protective layer of `misawite’, which is a compound of iron, oxygen and hydrogen used to prevent rusting and corrosion. This protective film encased over the pillar within three years after erection and has been growing ever since and 1,600 years later; this film is of a thickness of one twentieth of a millimetre.

The most amazing issue is the corrosion resistant nature of the iron pillar, where the P content and the S content of the low carbon mild steel material of which it is made and the process of rust protection, spectroscopic analysis are all themes that had led it to be regarded as a miracle of technology based on the time in which the pillar had been forged and erected.

Pillar Protected By Layer of Misawite 

Delhi Iron Pillar 5
From recent information with regards to the Iron Pillar which has been found that the iron was protectedby a layer of misawite that has been formed around the pillar, was due to a higher amount of phosphorous in the iron of about one percent when compared to the usual 0.5 percent.

This was done by the ancient Indians with the use of charcoal at one point of iron extraction while in present times, limestone is used and the thin layer of misawite which had been protecting the cast iron pillar from getting rusted had formed within three years after erection of the pillar and growing ever since.

The high phosphorous content is also the result of this unique iron making process which had been practiced by the ancient Indians who reduced the iron ore contents into steel by mixing it with charcoal.

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