Offbeat: The musical pillars of this Shiva Temple in Tamil Nadu


Offbeat: The musical pillars of this Shiva Temple in Tamil Nadu

Located in Tirunelveli in the state of Tamil Nadu, the Nellaiappar Temple is dedicated to Hindu deity Shiva. One of the most prominent temples in the state, it is known for its beautiful architecture and its musical pillars. Yes, you read that right, the temple is known for its musical pillars because the stones can produce melodious notes just like a musical instrument. Isn’t that something?

History of the temple

At the very start, it is important to note that the town of Tirunelveli is considered to be one of the five places where Lord Shiva is said to have displayed his dance. The Nellaiappar Temple here was completed in 700 CE, and is a masterpiece in terms of architecture. It is believed that the original temple complex was built by the Pandavas, and covers an area of 14.5 ac. It was built by successive rulers into what it is today.

The musical pillars that you can find here were most likely built by Nindraseer Nedumaran, a ruler back in the 7th century AD. The pillars make musical notes when tapped, and is proof of the superior craftsmanship of those times.

About the musical pillars

Offbeat: The musical pillars of this Shiva Temple in Tamil Nadu

People have been in awe of the musical pillars for a long time. They are known to create a bell-like sound and represent musical notes. The pillars can actually produce the seven basic musical notes.

The architecture here is of such high standards that a cluster of 48 pillars were carved from a single stone, and they surround a central pillar. There are 161 pillars in total that make the musical sounds. Interestingly, surrounding pillars vibrate when one of them is tapped. According to one research, a correlation between actual bell sound, and the bell sound produced by the pillars has been found.

According to reports in a leading Indian daily, three classifications can be done of the stone pillars, namely the Shruti pillar, the Gana thoongal, and the Laya thoongal. At the Nellaiappar temple, you will find a combination of Shruti and Laya. While Shruti is the basic notes, Laya pillars are those that can produce beats or what we call taal.

The fascinating Shiva temple is a must-visit for anyone who would like to experience this extraordinary architectural marvel from the ancient world.

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