|Thanjavur Big temple,www.flickr.com|
|Brihadeeswarar Temple thanjavur. www.panoramio.com|
The tall tower had a huge, beautifully carved dome with symmetrical images on all four sides, weighing about 80 tons. In addition to it, there are 4 pairs of huge stone Nandis (bulls), facing different directions at all four corners. The various carved images and the Nandis on all four sides are mirror images of those on the other sides. They have perfect size, shape and symmetry. This great feat, plus the placing of so huge a dome atop a 200 feet tall rock tower, that too 1000 years ago will baffle our imagination and the visitors to this wonderful historical site are literally awe-struck.
How is it possible to roll a heavy huge dome like rock mass up to the top? How is it possible to defy the forces of angular momentum at higher elevations? Considering the temple's antiquity, lack of modern building technology and the heavy rock mass, that ought to be to be pushed slowly up to the top, it is nothing but a Sisyphean task, that can never be completed.
|Sisyphean” task, t.okasaneko.wordpress.com|
02. The dome is not a monolith structure and has four parts of similar sizes, and each piece weighing 20 tons was taken to the top one by one along the inclined low angled ramp. Then, they were put together evenly on the top of the tower that has a wide base for the artisans to work on the sculptures and the erection of 4 pairs of Nandis.
|Thanjavur Big temple, 80 tone dome atop the tower. www.thehindu.com|
03. The second explanation is fairly tenable. However, it is still difficult to take a huge stone on a long inclined plane to such a dizzy height. My assumption is each one of the four parts of the dome, as suggested before, was taken to the top one by one, not through a long continuous ramp, but through a serious of about 12 to 14 well compacted wide low angled ramps and successive flat platforms for a particular distance each at a higher elevation. For example if the first platform is at an height of 15 to 18 feet with a ramp, connecting it from the ground level, the second ramp will be 15 to 18 feet from the first platform with connecting ramp from 15 to 18 feet level. With a series of flat long platforms of different and corresponding ramps, the task of rolling up a huge rock stone up with the help of elephants will be easier. On the flat long platforms at different elevations, rolling the rock mass forward with the help of tuskers, using rounded logs underneath is much easier. On the inclined plane the force of friction on the floor has to be over come. Using rounded logs of wood underneath the huge rock slabs would cut down the frictional forces, thus easing the forward mobility. It requires 3 to four elephants to push a 20 tone rock mass upward on a low inclined plane or ramp.
As for the tower, on four sides extremely strong scaffoldings were erected with wider platforms for the artisans to carve the delicate images. The skilled workers might have used specially tempered sharp chisels for various tasks based on sketched models. Because, unlike marble or any other soft rocks, carving delicate sculptures in granite stones requires very high standard of skills and patience. Once the task is over, the height of scaffoldings was raised to work at the next level and son on.
Thus the builders used 1000 plus trained elephants and a few thousand horses for moving the construction materials to the site. The great ruler Sri Rajarajan took seven full years to finish the temple work, and the thousands of workers had to work long hours from dawn to dusk.
This 1000 year old monument of artistic beauty and grandeur stands as a good example of man's imagination, fantasy and his ability to achieve it despite odds. The ruler was simply driven by passion, commitment and above all devotion to God, the almighty.