WPC: A Sound Idea

distanceThat’s a long shot of Golconda Fort, near Hyderabad, India.

centreI took the long shot from here. What’s the big deal you ask? Fair enough. But clearly something is afoot as you can make out from the bunch of visitors gathered under the portico. The blue shirted guy in the middle was animatedly translating for his non-English speaking companions the magic of the ordinary looking portico.

If you stand at the center of the portico and clap, you can hear a resonance. And this resonance can be heard at the palace built on the hillock about a kilometer away (the first picture).

Strangely, if you move away from the center of the portico (about seven feet) you cannot hear the resonance. Quite quite magical. And wait there’s more!

fabricThis hall was once the Royal durbar where visitors were brought to meet the royalty – if you look up you can see part of a balcony. That’s where the King sat. A bit too far away for conversation right? Well, the Royalty couldn’t risk mingling with the common crowd so they devised an ingenious method of communication. Clapping? No that was too common and loud.

Standing at the center of the hall, tapping a taut piece of fabric is enough to cause a distinct vibration, a resonance similar to that we noted at the clapping portico.

whisperAnother royal hall fallen upon bad times. But what is intact is the magic. Guards standing at the corners could talk to each other by whispering into the walls. Unlike the other two places, this whisper is not audible at the center. It’s true – we tried it out. No need for telephones, wires or internet 😀


A closer look at the palace – actually the closest I got to it (I wasnt going to climb 360 steps!). Apparently from the palace, experienced clappers communicated orders to soldiers stationed at the perimeter of the fort.

I don’t exactly know how the mechanism works – something to do with a series of arches, each smaller than the preceding one on one side of the portico. Apparently this helps a sound wave generated under the dome of the portico to get compressed and then bounce back amplified enough to reach a distance of more than a kilometer away. Whatever – but it was amazing, scintillating, magical and unmatched.

Game, set and match to the architects don’t you think?

Thanks for visiting do share your thoughts and have a good day.

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