Breathtaking ''anti-gravity stone pillar'' (12th century CE) of Belur, Karnataka

 Gravity pillar, Chennakesava temple, Belur.
 Indian Shilpis (architects and designers)  in the past - about 800 to 1000  years ago  had a good knowledge of  making  pillars, etc   using hard stones, timber or brick.  Pillars (Stambha)  were an integral part of  the Hindu Temple architecture,  and  stone artisans  ingeniously designed them  in a particular style as prescribed by the Shastras  with no technical aids - no  testing methods with respect to  load-bearing and strength of materials, etc.,  no  calculators and not even advanced tools to survey, cut and dress the stones. Despite these shortcomings, they came up with countless  amazing   temples  that stand today as a testimony to their expertise in  ‘Structural Engineering.  The temple pillars  were  physical expressions of  imagination, knowledge, strength and support of overlying structure, besides connection with divinity. These pillars played a  vital role in enhancing the beauty of the temples, particularly those pillars that are hewn with life size carved images and strange animals like Yali. Unlike in the western classic architecture system, a particular classification was not followed in erecting pillars  as the design, workmanship and craftsmanship kept changing down the generations. No doubt, the construction of  temples, etc.,  was not free from Sastras and  mathematical calculation and  Indian architects of yore enjoyed  greater freedom of design and expression of their ideas. In all southern states in particular, such massive pillars in the temples  are looked upon as a  source of inspiration, to promote  diverse studies for designing  pillar in contemporary temples. 

The state of Karnataka has the largest number of historical monuments next to Uttar Pradesh in India and it includes many Hindu temples built by many dynasties.  The Chennakeshava Temple or Vijayanarayana Temple of Belur,  a 12th-century Hindu temple in the Hassan district of Karnataka state, is  popular for its fine architecture, beautiful sculptures and  fine ornate pillars, besides, it  has  remarkable reliefs, friezes as well excellent  iconography.  It was commissioned by King Vishnuvardhana in 1117 CE, on the banks of the Yagachi River in Belur, but it took 103 years  for the rulers to complete the temple. The temple  is  dedicated to  God Vishnu.

Belur free standing gravity pillar,

42 ft tall. Gravity pillar, Chennakesava temple, Belur.

Visitors to this temple  will never miss an architectural wonder that is highly incredible. It is about  the  42-feet-tall  anti -Gravity pillar, also called Mahasthambha or Kartika Deepotsava Stambha, This monolithic  stampha (pillar) made of soap stone  has  neither a base nor proper foundation  and  it is just  set  on a  star-shaped platform made of granite   and has no structural support  to make it stand firmly. Nor is it firmly fixed with the platform with some kind of mortar. 

Belur, KA

Location map.  Belur, Karnataka

Anti-granite pillar, Belur, Karnataka.

Literally, the pillar is standing on three sides on its own weight and the fourth side has an unfilled gap and  it has been around for centuries since 1414 -  
the reign of King Devaraaya  and has no sign of  its falling on the ground.  A heavy tall stone pillar standing up right for hundreds of years without adequate support or foundation  is  some thing  staggering This feat  shows the  architectural excellence of  Vijayanagara rulers and amazing knowledge of the architects. The puzzle is how come this tall  heavy stone pillar has been standing firmly in the place  for several centuries where it was set  without showing any minor shift in its position. Equally incomprehensible  is the fact that the platform on which the pillar stands does not show any sign of any structural  weakness in the form of cracks despite the time factor and seasonal climatic  changes these centuries. It is mentioned that the temples at Belur and Halebidu are made of soft stone called soapstone with which mind-boggling artistic  carvings can be  by talented  stone masons. Yet another rock used widely are  chloritic schistose rocks. The latter are metamorphic rocks formed deep in the earth under intense heat and chemical process causing change in the texture of rocks. Any way, both soapstone (also of metaphoric origin rich in magnesium) and chloritic schist are not hard rocks like granite or granite related rocks like charnokites (potassium rich granite).  As for the tall anti gravity pillar, question arises as to the kind of rock from which it is made. Metamorphic rocks are easily susceptible to mechanical  and chemical weathering. he composition of the rock from which pillar is made. need further scrutiny.

soapstone (metamorphic rock rich in Mg,

Mind you, centuries before Newton's (Newton published a comprehensive theory of gravity in 1687) discovery of  Gravitational theory, the Indian builders of temples, etc., in South India  had already  gained a good knowledge of Earth's gravity and its forces on structures and building. Yet another example is the Brihadeshwara temple - dedicated to Shiva  (A UNESCO  World Heritage Site)  at Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu built  by  Raja Raja Chola I  between 1003 and 1010 CE.  Entirely made of granite and related rocks, atop  a single block of granite  weighing 80 ton   rests a  25 ton  cupola - dome; the vimana is 208 ft tall. .