|The Dhar iron pillar, Madhya Pradesh. en.Wikipedi.orga|
Not many people of India are aware of the depth of knowledge Indians had in ancient time in many fields. They were well-versed in mining, metallurgy, etc. Throughout ancient times, India was a major exporter of ferrous metals. The iron pillar of Delhi (400AD) and Dhar (1000AD) in Madhya Pradesh today bear testimony to the ingenuity and amazing skills of Indians in the area of metal processing to produce rust proof iron. They also knew the technique to mix carbon to produce quality iron.
The Dhar iron pillar which is believed to have been
a victory column erected by the 11th century Paramara king Bhoja is now, unfortunately, a fragmented iron column. Located in the town of Dhar, Madhya Pradesh, the exact origin of the pillar is a riddle and an acceptable explanation is not yet available. However, the strong local belief has been that King Bhoja was instrumental in erecting the victory column. It is near the 15th century old local Masjid, called Lat Masjid (pillar mosque; in Hindi "lat" means pillar) three of its broken fragments are now located; the fourth portion of the pillar is believed to be missing.
|Lat Masjid, Dhar, MP. RGS Picture Library|
|Dhar dist. Madhya Pradesh JatLand|
01. The pillar is located in the south-eastern part of the former fortified city of Dhar, once the capital of
the Paramara dynasty.
02. The pillar has no inscriptions with respect to its creator, date and purpose of erection, etc.
03. Local tradition has it , the pillar commemorates a military victory of the 11th century Paramara king Bhoja. He had a good knowledge of metallurgy and wrote a book Yuktikalpataru.
04. During the colonial rule, Henry Cousens of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) studied these broken fragments and was of the view that the pillar was made by the later Paramara king Arjunavarman in 1210 CE, using the the molten arms of an enemy force.
05. According to R. Balasubramaniam, Metallurgist originally, a Shiva temple and the pillar with a trishula (trident) at the top in front of it had occupied the site where the Lat Masjid is, and in whose compound the pillar is located now. This masjid was built with spolia from Hindu and Jain temples.
06. An interesting feature is the two large fragments have a number of holes at irregular intervals on all sides. From the diameter and depth of holes, besides uneven distribution of holes, they do not appear to be slots for lamps (as in a deepa-stambha). Regarding these holes, historian Roessler proposed that these slots were also used to hold the pillar upright using iron anchors.
07. It is postulated that the pillar appears to have been constructed, using horizontal forge welding technique, joining the smaller sections - (2ft. 4in and 2 ft 9 in in length) together to form the pillar.
08. Bahadur Shah, the Sultan of Gujarat in 1531 CE took control of Dhar. it is theorized that when the Sultan tried to take the large piece of the iron pillar to Gujarat, in the process, this part toppled and fragmented into two pieces. Now, all the three fragments of the pillar are placed horizontally on a platform near Lat Masjid.
09. Earlier this region was conquered by the Delhi Sultanate in 1305 and then became part of the independent province of the Sultans of Malwa when Dilawar Khan broke away in 1401. In the 1530s Dhar came under the Gujarat Sultanate. After the Muslim conquest of Dhar and the surrounding areas, the iron pillar that was larger than the one at New Delhi was broken into at least two pieces, the smaller one was set at the Dilawar Khan's Mosque in Mandu and the larger one was planted in front of Lat Masjid built by Dilawar Khan in 1405.
According to R. Balasubramaniam and A. V. Ramesh Kumar (2003), the pillar shows "excellent" atmospheric corrosion resistance.
Dhar has many tourist spots such as fort, museum, temples, caves, etc. This place is being visited by lots of tourists from India and abroad.