Delhi's Iron Pillar



At Qutub Minar premises in Delhi, an iron pillar erected in 4th century AD standing at the center of the Quwwatul Mosque has staved off rust and the vagaries of nature since last 1600 years. It is the finest example of the metallurgical accomplishment reached by Indian metal smiths.

The pillar is made of solid shaft of iron, 23 feet 8 inches in length. Its diameter varies from 12.5 inches at the top to 16.4 inches on the ground.

Noted British archaeologist Sir Alexander Cunningham sent a sample from the pillar and found that it is made of pure 99.9 percent malleable iron.

There are certain shades of confusions that surround the pillar. An inscription on the pillar in Pali script describes it as Vishnudhwaj (symbol of the Hindu god Vishnu) on the top of the mound known as Vishnupad (Vishnu's feet). Though no image of Vishnu has been found. However, British historian Percival Spear was able to establish that a statue was attached to the pillar but failed to identify it.

Dr. Munish Chandra, a noted Indian scholar and former Additional Director General of ASI

(Archaeological Survey of India) through his research emphasized that the pillar was surrounded by an image of Lord Vishnu that was probably removed by the Muslim invaders.

One of the interesting myths associated with the pillar is that Bhim, a mythological hero from Mahabharata lifted the pillar from his right hand and implanted it in the ground. Many Indians believe encircling the pillar with their hands will bring in good luck to them. As a result everyday numerous visitors try to encircle the pillar and this has resulted in white patches on the lower portion of the pillar.

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