India is very famous for its temples.Thousands and thousands of temples built and maintained from time immemorial. The sculptures and the building techniques will speak itself the glory of the great tradition.
Madurai is situated at 462 kilometers south of Chennai (Madras as it was known in earlier times). The famous Meenakshi Amman Temple is located in the centre of the city. Inside the temple, there are famous halls like Marriage Hall, Thousand Pillar Hall etc.
The Thousand Pillar Hall is very famous for its beautiful construction.
The hall, even though called as thousand pillar hall, it has only 985 pillars. The pillars are erected in such a way as to fall in line from any angle we view..
In the year 1983, an expert team from audiology department went in to the hall and carried out an extensive study. They have used latest scientific gadgets and found that there is absolutely no echo in any part of the temple even with all the crowd around the sound level seldom exceed 80 dB (decibel)
Naturally the noise level in a quiet surrounding will be 40 dB, in a crowded street about 80-85 dB and at the airport when a jet aircraft takes off, it will be about 100 dB.
According to the team headed by Dr Kameswaran, an ENT specialist, there appears to be a built-in mechanism in the precincts of Madurai temple for containing the echo. The total noise does not exceed a specific level which would make it unpleasant to the visitors.
The temple is an acoustic marvel, observed the experts. Near the road there is one Ashta Shakti Hall. There the noise level is only 40 dB.
The team members said that with this ambient noise it is possible for a person to contemplate and meditate the Divinity.
Roughly about 5000 to 6000 people visit the temple daily. And the sound level recorded during the peak hours is of the order of 70 dB to 80 dB.
It implies that the artisans were aware of the basic principles of acoustics. The huge icons on the unpolished pillars, the distribution of vents, the allocation of open space all around, are all mechanisms to contain the noise level. The arrangements are so made that is not crude but there is an artistic planning combining utility with beauty.
This arrangement strangely contrasts with arrangement made in certain modern buildings where instruments for breaking noise and absorbing sound are hung from the roof in a very clumsy and unartistic manner.
This hall is a classic example of perfect sound engineering technique. The average height of each pillar is about 12 feet. The pillars depicts four kinds of motifs, one consisting of moulded squares, the other with rampant dragon, the third with a figure of a deity and the fourth that of a donor or his family. The unpolished pillars of exactly of same size and shape are placed at mathematically accurate positions. These aspects have made the hall echo resistant.
In addition, the pillars are so peculiarly arranges that anyone sitting at a specific spot could view a central figure without any obstruction in any position. At any position inside the hall, in consequence to the arrangement of the pillars, there open up around us 16 colonnades of varying width and such length of each side that the perspective afforded by them is simply marvelous.
The expert team rightly described the thousand pillar hall as an acoustic marvel.
Thousands of such intricate wonders are hidden in these Indian temples.
by Santhanam Nagarajan