Iron Pillar

Topics: Iron, Corrosion, Mehrauli Pages: 6 (1995 words) Published: June 9, 2013
The Iron Pillar located in Delhi, India, is a 7 m (23 ft) column in the Qutub complex, notable for the rust-resistant composition of the metals used in its construction. The pillar has attracted the attention of archaeologists andmetallurgists and has been called "a testament to the skill of ancient Indian blacksmiths" because of its high resistance tocorrosion.[1] The corrosion resistance results from an even layer of crystalline iron hydrogen phosphate forming on the highphosphorus content iron, which serves to protect it from the effects of the local Delhi climate.[2] The name of the city of Delhi is thought to be based on a legend associated with the pillar (see History of Delhi). -------------------------------------------------

Description

The Iron pillar stands within the courtyard of Quwwat-ul-Islam Mosque

Text and translation of the inscription in English at the site The height of the pillar, from the top of its capital to the bottom of its base, is 23 ft 8 in (7.21 m), 3 ft 8 in (1.12 m) of which is below ground. Its bell pattern capital is 3 ft 6 in (1.07 m) in height, and its bulb-shaped base is 2 ft 4 in (0.71 m) high. The base rests on a grid of iron bars soldered with lead into the upper layer of the dressed stone pavement. The pillar's lower diameter is 16.4 in (420 mm), and its upper diameter 12.05 in (306 mm). It is estimated to weigh more than six tons.[3] A fence was erected around the pillar in 1997 in response to damage caused by visitors. There is a popular 'tradition' that it was considered good luck if one could stand with one's back to the pillar and make one's hands meet behind it. The practice led to significant wear and visible discoloration on the lower portion of the pillar. -------------------------------------------------

Original Location
The first location of the pillar has been debated.[4]
While the pillar was certainly used as a trophy in the building the Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque and the Qutb complex, its original location, whether on the site itself or from elsewhere, has frequented discussion. A summary of views on this subject and related matters was collected in volume edited by M. C. Joshi and published in 1989.[5] More recently, opinions have been summarised again by Upinder Singh in her book Delhi: Ancient History.[6] R. Balasubramaniam explored the metallurgy of the pillar and the iconography based on analysis of archer-type Gupta gold coins.[7] In his view, the pillar, with a wheel or discus at the top, was originally located at the Udayagiri caves, situated near Vidisha in Madhya Pradesh.[8] This conclusion was partly based on the fact that the inscription mentions Viṣṇupadagiri (meaning "hill with footprint of Viṣṇu"). This conclusion was endorsed and elaborated by Michael Willis in his Archaeology of Hindu Ritual, published in 2009.[9] The key point in favour of placing the iron pillar at Udayagiri is that this site was closely associated with Candragupta and the worship of Viṣṇu in the Gupta period. In addition, there are well-established traditions of mining and working iron in central India, documented particularly by the iron pillar at Dhar and local place names like Lohapura and Lohangī Pīr (see Vidisha). The king of Delhi, Iltutmish, is known to have attacked and sacked Vidisha in the thirteenth century and this would have given him an opportunity to remove the pillar as a trophy to Delhi, just as the Tughluq rulers brought Asokan pillars to Delhi in the 1300s. -------------------------------------------------

Inscriptions

Detail showing the inscription of King Candragupta II
The pillar carries a number of inscriptions and graffiti of different dates which have not been studied systematically despite the pillar's prominent location and easy access. The oldest inscription on the pillar is in Sanskrit, written in Gupta-periodBrahmi script.[10] This states that the pillar was erected as a standard in honour of Viṣṇu. It also praises the valor and qualities of...
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