The word Vimana comprises of Vi, “the sky” and Mana, meaning, “measure”. Vimana is one that measures the sky as it traverses through it. Indian legends have many stories of Vimana.
By far, the most popular of them is that of Pushpaka Vimana which was used by Rama to return from Lanka to Ayodhya along with Sita, after vanquishing Ravana.
This Pushpaka Vimana was the one in which Vibhishana, the then crowned King of Lanka, brought Rama and the entire entourage to Ayodhya. This particular Pushpaka Vimana which was in the Airport hangar of Ravana, originally belonged to Ravana’s step brother, Kubera, from whom Ravana took it.
The six airports of Ravana
Ravana had many Vimana in his aero plane hangar. Infact, Ravana had six airports in his kingdom of Lanka. They being,
1. Weragantota in Mahiyangana -In the Sinhalese language, this word means a place for an aircraft to land.
2. Thotupola Kanda at Hoton Plains–The word Thotupola means a port, a place that one touches during one’s journey. Kanda means rock. Thotupola Kanda is a flat land over a rocky range at a height of 6000 feet from sea level. So this means that it could only have been a port of call for a transport vehicle that could travel in air. So it must have been an airport and not a sea port. The present airport of Sri Lanka at Colombo, is called Videsha Bandaranayake Guwan Thotupola in Sinhala where again Guwan means air and Thotupola means port.
3. Usangoda on the southern coast
4. Wariyapola in Kurunegala
5. Wariyapola in Mattale – the word Wariyapola is said to have been derived from Watha-ri-ya-pola meaning place for landing and takeoff of aircrafts.
6. Gurulupotha in Mahiyangana – the word Gurulupotha in Sinhalese means parts of birds, indicating this to be an aircraft hangar or repair centre.
Ravana’s six airports in the Sri Lankan map
Lanka – A land of many Vimana
Apart from the Pushpaka Vimana, Ravana owned many other Vimana too. Ravana probably used these Vimana to travel to different parts of Lanka as well as outside Lanka.This is also borne out by the following sloka in the Valmiki Ramayana.
Rama tells Lakshmana, as they fly over Lanka in the Pushpaka Vimana, after the victory over Ravana.
Lanka shines on the earth
Studded with many Vimana
As if it is the capital of Vishnu
Covered with white clouds.
Valmiki Ramayana, Yuddha Khanda, Sarga 20
Dandu Monara Vimana
The one other well mentioned Vimana that was used by Ravana, is Dandu Monara. In the local Sinhalese language. Monara means Mayura, peacock and Dandu Monara means “that which can fly resembling a peacock”.
Model of Dandu Monara Vimana
Galle Face Hotel lnsignia
The story of Ravana flying in Vimana with his wife Mandodari is etched as the insignia in the most famous hotel, Galle Face Hotel of Colombo, Sri Lanka.
Ravana and Mandodari in the Vimana at Galle Face Hotel Insignia, Dandu Monara Vimana, 1864
Galle Face Hotel – Colombo, Courtesy Lankapura.com
The texts like Ramayana and other Puranic texts speak about the stories of Vimana. The technical details on Vimana is available in a few other texts of India. The more prominent among these is the Vaimanika Shastra written by Maharishi Bharadwaja.
In writing this treatise, Maharishi Bharadwaja states that he was only compiling information available at his time for various Vimana and that most of them were prior to his times. He mentions about 120 different Vimana that were there in different times in different lands. He also gives glimpses of fuels used, aeronautics, avionics, metallurgy and other maneuvers that were deployed in flying these Vimana.
English translation of Vaimanika Sastra by Subbaraya Shastry and G. R. Josyer
In the late 19th century, a scholar from near Mysore, Anekal Subbaraya Shastry happened to come across these texts which he translated into English titled, “Vymaanika- Shaastra Aeronautics”. The details given in this book have opened up many vistas into insights into flying machines of yore. It is now for the coming generation to take a leaf out of these texts, the puranic legends and the applicability situation in present days, research on the content and see what lessons can be learnt for present and future application in the field of metallurgy, power transmission, power generational and aeronautical sciences.
More on Vimana is mentioned in our book is mentioned in our book, “Ramayana in Lanka”, and “Historical Rama” which are a part of the Bharath Gyan Series.
The authors D K Hari and D K Hema Hari are founders of Bharath Gyan who have written 10 books and 2 films. They can be followed at Facebook and Twitter.