Heliodorus Pillar

Heliodorus Pillar

  • Bhopal
  • Madhya Pradesh
  • India

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Heliodorus Pillar, Bhopal Overview

The Heliodorous Pillar, Vidisha was erected in central India, on the outskirts of Vidisha in 113B.C. The pillar is considered being one of the very important and significant archaeological finds on the subcontinent of India.


The name of the pillar was given after Heliodorous, the ambassador of an Indo-Greek king from Taxila, named Antialcidas. On the pillar, he inscribed his dedication in Brahmi script, which declared him a Vasudeva devotee, or a devotee of the supreme deity. The pillar is said to be symbolic of the 'cosmic axis' and express the deity's cosmic totality it joins the earth's space and heaven.


The Heliodorous pillar, Vidisha is located near two rivers. It is about 37 kilometers northeast from Bhopal, then 11 kilometers from Buddhist Sanchi stupa and then 4 kilometers from Udayagiri site. Alexander Cunningham discovered the Pillar in 1877.


There were two major archaeological excavations done in the 20th century which revealed that the pillar was a part of the very ancient temple of Vasudeva. There are inscriptions and temples found which are known to be the earliest evidence of Vasudeva and Krishna's devotion.


Also, it tells a lot about the early Vaishnavism existing in India. The inscriptions found on the Heliodorous pillar say that Vasudeva Krishna was called Deva which means the supreme deity, “God of Gods”. The Heliodorous pillar, Vidisha is the erection that shows the manifestation of Bhagavata, the worship of Vrishni heroes a type of ancient cult, and simultaneously there was also Buddhism flourishing in Sanchi.




There was an excavation in the year 1913 which said that there was a significant part of the Heliodorous pillar, Vidisha which lies below the platform. It sits on top of even much more old and ancient pillar which probably got damaged by floods.


Over time, there was silt from different floods that got deposited and the platform got raised at a point. The pillar shaft has base support made of the two placement stones which are held with the layer of a stone metal. Above it was the untrimmed stone part of the pillar. And above the section which is untrimmed lies an octagonal trimmed cross-section.


The real ground level was around 4.5 centimeters above the trimmed and untrimmed section. Then above the length with the octagonal facet lies that section of the pillar which has sixteen facets. The section of thirty-two facets lies above the sixteenth section. Beyond this part is the round short pillar section, which goes all the way up to where previously was the crowning emblem, which is now missing. The pillar is around 17.7 feet above the square platform. The platform itself is above the ground for around 3 feet. The presently visible part of the octagonal portion of the pillar is around 4feet and 10inches high. The sixteenth section is completely visible and also is 6 feet and 2inches high. Also, the thirty twos are completely visible and it's around 11.5 inches high. While the round portion is around 2-feet 2-inches high.




On the Heliodorous pillar, Vidisha is two inscriptions. The authors who have analyzed the inscriptions are Sukthankar, E.J.Rapson, Shane Wallace and Richard Salomon. The texts used in the inscriptions are written in Brahmi script the language which is used is Praktrit along with some Sanskritised spellings. The two inscriptions found on the pillar's octagonal base each spanning three sides along with the remaining two of the sides blank.


• The very first inscriptions tell about the religious decoration of Heliodorous. The identity and name of the King Bhagabhadra are contested in the longer inscription. Some early scholars proposed that he might have been the very 5th ruler of the Dynasty of Sunga, as it has been described in some of the Puranic lists.

• The second inscription did not have anything else but they’ve written about the lines from Mahabharata.

• But, later in some excavation, done by German archaeologists near Sonkh, Mathura had shown, the end of the Sunga Dynasty happened even before the installation of Heliodorous pillar, Vidisha. Therefore, it can probably be true, that Bhagabhadra might have been some local ruler. Various other scholars have very differently translated the virtues in shorter inscriptions.


Culture of Vidisha-Heliodorous pillar


In the Heliodorous pillar, vidisha cultures there are mridang and matki music. Native festivals and functions are also enjoyed along with dance and music. While usually, different people are wearing different clothes depending on their changing cultures and religions. But the majority of all men almost wore the very traditional dhoti and mirza along with a turban.


And for the women, there are legends and then choli and also there is chunni which does the work of covering up the head. There are also, very beautiful traditional handicrafts which include some kinds of cane works mad bamboo, ornament and metal crafts and folk paintings. Also, apart from just agriculture, there is tattooing done by people as another source of livelihood.


Things to do:


There many points of interests to visit when you are around Vidisha, in Madhya Pradesh.

• The District Museum- In Vidisha, there is an amazing museum that is situated in the city’s heart. There are many beautiful terracottas, sculpted sculptures and even coins that date to the 10th century. There is also, Harappan art showcased in the museum. The very famous Yaksha statue is the specialty of this museum. The statue is almost of the old Sunga or Mauryan Empire.

• Different Temples- Many temples can be found in the town. The temples are grand and have beautiful houses. The very intricate and gorgeous carvings which are done in the temple will leave you all awestruck. Many old temples get many visitors, everyone. All walk-in to offer prayers to God seek blessings of the almighty.


Lastly, the Heliodorous pillar, Vidisha is a must-visit for sure. Going to Vidisha for a vacation is a great idea. People can go there and enjoy its grandeur and glory. It's enough for one to feel relaxed and also to slightly see what the medieval era looked like. The place is very well connected with both railways and roadways. Also, it is just 1.5 hours from the airport of Bhopal, therefore, it is accessible.


The climate doesn't play much of a crucial role therefore one can visit Vidisha whatever they feel like. But most people go and take a visit to the Heliodorous pillar, Vidisha for being known for the ancient old architectures and religious items.

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