Optics Workshop at Chaya Someswara (Report)

Table of Contents

1 Introduction

India demonstrated remarkable achievements in the select fields of science and engineering like space, nuclear science etc. However, when we look into the possible heights, we feel dissatisfied with present status. Possibilities were immense given vast human capital and observed abilities of past.

We can quote many scientific marvels achieved by our ancestors. When we look at study of light, we find a living example of optical phenomenon at 11th century Chaya Someswara Swamy temple in Panagal, a village adjacent to Nalgonda town in Telangana State.

Vijnana Bharati Anveshika has been organising teachers and students workshops to inculcate the culture of doing experiments. When Vibha Telangana team visited the Chaya Someswara temple, the team felt the need to connect modern science with existing scientific work of ancient time. It was decided to conduct a workshop on optics near the temple premises.

The workshop was well received by the participants and supported by the locals. The initiation and execution of this workshop motivated the team to share their experience as such initiative can further trigger such events around the places of historical and scientific significance. In view of the same this report has been prepared.

The main page of the workshop is here.

2 About Chaya Someswara Swamy Temple


The archaeological notice board near the chaya someswara temple presents temple history as "From 1040 AD to 1290 AD Kundur Cholas ruled Panagal as their capital city and has their kingdom extended in Nalgonda, Mahabub Nagar and Khammam Districts. The Kundur Cholas have constructed a big tank Udaya Cheruvu during their rule and even now people of this region are benefitted of their efforts. There is one inscription found in the temple that has references to 1290 AD of Prataparudra of Kakatiya dynasty. The temple has three Garbhagruhas famously referred as "Trikutalaya". The Garbhagruha of east side has continuous shadow formation without any movement behind the Shivalinga. Because of this Shadow referred in Telugu as "Chaya", this temple is called as Chaya Someswara. We can see many Kakatiya period sculpture styles in the temple."

The temple located at 17.07° N latitude and 79.29° E longitude. We observed that Chaya Someswara lies at the same longitudinal line as many other ancient temples like Kedarnath in North, Srikalahati, Kanchipuram, Tiruvannamalai, Chidambaram, and Rameswaram in South. It is an interesting fact that all these ancient temples lies on the same geographical line. The temple can be reached from Hyderabad by train to Nalgonda or by road within 2 hrs time. See tourism department website for more details.

The temple complex houses three deities - Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva each facing three different directions connected by a common maha-mandapam. As in many Hindu temples, Lord Ganesha is seen at the entrance of this temple and on the other side is seen idol of Naga devatha. The walls and the pillars of the temple depict the epics from Ramayana and Mahabharata.

There is another architectural wonder apart from shadow which falls on the deity of the temple. If one stands in front of Shiva Lingam in the inner sanctum then they will find their own shadow divided into 2 parts behind the wall of the deity.

There is Lord Vishnu temple on the right side of this Shiva temple. Here one can notice 5 shadows of their hand when waved standing in front of the deity.


The mysterious shadow is the main reason which attracts a huge number of pilgrims to the temple. The Chaya that falls on the deity looks like a shadow of one of the pillars carved in front of the sacred chamber (Garbhagriha of Lord Shiva). There are multiple opinions about the shadow formation and needs holistic study of all trikutalayas to reach a conclusion.

3 Need of Optics Workshop Near the Temple

The need of optics workshop near the temple can be traced back to what Sri Aurobindo said long back "Indian civilisation lived with a noble, ample and vigorous order and freedom; it developed a great literature, sciences, arts, crafts, industries; it rose to the highest possible ideals of spiritual knowledge and it’s our responsibility to connect with all those past and take this wisdom forward".

In order to connect young minds with the scientific efforts of our ancestors, we need to provide enabling environment. Just providing the information about glorious past will not help. Visiting a place of scientific glory, spending quality time there, discussing about the scientific phenomenon, and exploring it further will create long lasting impression in young minds. The students can develop his own ideas based on facts rather then based on opinions expressed by others on a fast changing digital space.

The Chaya Someswara temple has spiritual significance, rich architecture, scientific glory and is a triggering point for scientific exploration. This is a living monument to explain and explore concepts related to optics. Vijnana Bharathi Anveshika planned to conduct the experimental workshops to expose students to the pride of ancient wisdom and to learn the concepts related to optics through experiments.

4 Workshop Details

4.1 Objective

The workshop objective is to enjoy and understand optics by doing experiments given in 10th class physical science syllabus and going beyond the syllabus.

4.2 Resource Persons Participated

4.2.1 Workshop Coordinator

Sri Gopal Reddy, Physical Science Teacher, Nalgonda (TS)

4.2.2 Scientists/Resource Persons who attended from Hyderabad

  • Dr. S Karunanidhi, Outstanding Scientist, RCI Lbs, DRDO, gave the key message at the start of the event and he has provided valuable guidance to the organisers of the workshop.
  • Sri Jitender Singh, Scientist F, DRDO, central resource person of the workshop planned the technical contents and prepared material required for the workshop.
  • Sri Pravin Chaudhary, Scientist F, DRDL, acted as resource person of the workshop and interacted with the students to provide guidance.
  • Sri Narahari, Scientist E, RCI Labs, DRDO, acted as resource person of the workshop and interacted with the students to provide guidance.
  • Sri Ramesh Kumar, Scientist RCI Labs, DRDO participated as resource person
  • Sri GLN Murthy, Consultant, TCS, Hyderabad, Coordinator Vibha Telangana coordinated the workshop.

4.2.3 Teachers who interacted and guided the students

  • Sri E Ramana, PGT, Kendriya Vidyalaya, Barkas acted as resource person and interacted with students guiding them to do the experiments
  • Sri A Gnaneswar, Teacher, Warangal acted as resource person and interacted with students guiding them to do the experiments
  • Sri Ch Bharani Kumar, Teacher, Bhuvanagiri district acted as resource person and interacted with students guiding them to do the experiments
  • Sri G Ramesh Babu, Teacher, Ex DSO, Suryapet explained all students with his model display of Chaya Someswara temple at the workshop
  • Sri Vyas, Teacher, Sankalp institution, Nalgonda interacted with students and provided experimental guidance
  • Sri CV Harikrishna, Teacher, Nalgonda provided initial guidance to the students

4.2.4 Students

Total 40 students of class 10 attended the workshop.

4.3 Program Details

4.3.1 Inauguration

The inauguration session started with lighting of lamp followed by prarthana and garlanding of Shri CV Raman portrait.


Dr Karunanidhi, outstanding scientist, mentioned that they directly worked with Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, who used to refer learning by doing. The workshop is fitting in to that kind of knowledge gain. He also mentioned that spiritual science and modern science and coexist harmoniously. Both have same goal to find and experience real truth. He appreciated the phenomena at the temple and told youngsters to observe and study our ancient established scientific practices. He referred Bhagavad Gita and importance of knowledge than any other things in life.

Sri Anantha Reddy, Temple Committee chairmen referred about scientific significance of temples and their relation to our day to day life.

Other guests stressed on protection of ancient wisdom through conservation of this living architectural evidence. Also pointed out how ancient knowledge can provide solutions to many present day problems.

4.4 Experiments

All the participants of workshop has been provided with printed details of the experiment and the material required to do these experiments. Participants were divided into 5 groups with a dedicated resource person for each group. The students completed experiments designed to explore following concepts

  • Laws of Reflection
  • Laws of Refraction
  • Concave Mirror
  • Convex Lens
  • Prism
  • Miscellaneous-games with optics

The details of these experiments are given here.

4.5 Schedule

The workshop has delayed start against planned due to synchronization and transport by 45mins. The Workshop went on till evening 5:30 PM.

4.6 Feedback

The Workshop concluded with a closing session with distribution of participation certificates to all the students and requested the students for feedback. The students felt that they feel confident about the learned concept through experimentation procedure and they enjoyed with pride doing experiments at temple premises.

4.7 Selected Pictures from the Workshop

5 Future Scope

The workshop could clarify the doubts of selected students. It also created the sense of pride in ancient science. The students also felt the value of cultural heritage and need for its conservation. Similar efforts to be made at different places to connect science education with ancient wisdom.

There is a need to bring forward the scientific glory of Chaya Someswara temple. The visibility at national and international level, particularly with importance attached to optics, will help preservation of temple and propagation of science through pilgrimage and tourism.

In Telangana, there are many such places where students can naturally connect with scientific phenomenon. The phenomenon of sound and echo can be experienced and explored at the Golkonda fort in Hyderabad. Similarly, Ramappa temple in Warangal with its sandbox technology is place to explain mechanics and structural genius of our ancestors.

The workshop at these places are natural enabler as it creates interest and enthusiasm.

Author: ViBha Anveshika Team

Created: 2018-02-18 Sun 15:52

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