Awe-inspiring Dhar iron pillar, Madhya Pradesh

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
A simple observation of the configuration of the fragments suggests the original pillar was not a cylindrical one but tapering from bottom to top as suggested by varying cross sections at different levels. The bottom fragment has a square cross-
section followed by the  middle fragment  with square and octagonal cross-section  and the top one with  an octagonal cross-section with a small circular part at the end.  The three fragments put together measure 13.21 metres (43 ft 4 in), which suggests that the total height of the  original pillar must have been twice the height  of Delhi iron pillar (near Qutub minar).  The combined weight of the fragments is estimated at around 7300 kg, where as the Delhi iron pillar is  at least 1,000 kg less than the  pillar at Dhar.  Obviously, at the time of its erection, the iron pillar at Dhar must have been probably the largest forge-welded iron pillar in the world, a fact that we are not aware of.
The following are the interesting facts of Iron pillar of Dhar:

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.