Indian Sandstone: the stone with universal appeal
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Sandstone, as the name spells, is a rock formed of sand or quartz grains tightly pressed together and cemented by variety of materials like silica, iron, lime etc. The grain size, strength, kind of cementing material and compactness determine its density, permeability and the use. The colour of sandstone depends on cementing materials viz. ferruginous sandstone are red to brown, argillaceous are earthy to buff and generally white. Due to oxidation the ferruginous sandstone generally tend to change the colour from radish to brown buff, yellow and greenish.
Among dimension stones sandstone has a significant status for its availability and durability and grand spectrum of colours with universal appeal that even rainbow spectrum fails to match.
For centuries sandstone is being used, not only in India but all over the world, for different purposes. The wide scale architectural application of sandstone can be seen in different monuments, temples and buildings in India: Red Fort of Delhi and Agra; palaces and buildings of Fatehpur Sikri, Deeg, Kota, Bikaner, Jodhpur and Jaiselmer; Buddhist Rameshwaram temple in the south; Parliament House, Presidential House, Supreme Court building and Swaminarayan Temple in Delhi, Mehrangarh Fort and Umaid Bhawan Palace at Jodhpur and Rajasthan Assembly House in Jaipur.
Rajasthan is the treasure trove of sandstone, more than ninety per cent share of Indian sandstone deposits are found here. In the last decade sandstone quarrying, processing and marketing in Rajasthan have achieved a remarkable growth showing good future prospects.
Sandstone resources
Sandstone reserves in India are estimated at around 1,000 million tonnes and spread over in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Gujarat, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Karnataka, Orrisa, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal. Out of 1,000 million tonnes of sandstone in India, 900 million tonnes are in Rajasthan spread over in the districts of Bharatpur, Dholpur, Kota, Jodhpur, Sawai Madhopur, Bundi, Chittorgarh, Bikaner, Jhalawar, Pali and Jaisalmer.
Geologically sandstone rocks of Vindhyan Supergroup extending from Chittorgarh (Rajasthan) in the west to Sasaram (Bihar) in the east, Harda to Hoshangabad (Madhya Pradesh) are most significant. The other rock units correlated with Vidhyans are Kurnool System in Kundair Valley and Paland Tract in Andhra Pradesh, Indravati and Raipur series in Baster and Chhatisgarh area, Bhima series in Gulbarga and Bijapur districts of Karnataka.
The Gondwana sandstones found in Bihar and Orissa have been widely used as building stone in the states. The famous Lord Jagnnath Temple at Puri and other temples at Bhubneshwar as well as sculptures in nearby caves at Khondagiri and Udayagiri have been built with the Gondwana sandstone called Athgarh Sandstone.
Sandstone of Cretaceous age, popularly known as Himmat Nagar Sandstone, Dhrangdhara Sandstone and Songir Sandstone of Gujarat ; Nimar Sandstone of Narmada Valley have been widely used in building work.
The sandstone occurring along the eastern coast (Cuddalore and Rajamahendry in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh) have been used as building material. The famous Rameshwaram Temple has been built from Cuddalore Sandstone.