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Many instances occur in the Itihasas and Puranas where flying chariots called Vimanas are mentioned. What are they, and how many types are there?
Vimana as an aircraft
In the Ramayana, the Pushpak Vimana has a central role in the abduction of Sita. It was made by the divine architect, Vishwakarma, who gave it to the God of Wealth, Kuber. It was later usurped by Kuber’s half-brother, Ravana. It is said to resemble the mountain Meru, which probably meant that it was conical.
The Ramayana isn’t the only text to have a clear mention of Vimanas. The Bhagavata Purana narrates the story of King Shalva, who prayed to Lord Shiva to obtain an indestructible Vimana. A Danava called Maya built the aircraft under the instruction of Lord Shiva. Shalva used the Vimana to attack Dwaraka, the city of his arch-enemy, Lord Krishna.
The aircraft is mentioned to be made of ayas, which is mistakenly translated as iron. The closest meaning is metal, which suggests that the ancient Indians made these Vimanas with a metal or alloy unknown to us. What could that substance be, and how useful would it be for present-day space travel?
At one moment the magic airship built by Maya Danava appeared in many identical forms, and the next moment it was again only one. Sometimes it was visible, and sometimes not. Thus Shalva’s opponents could never be sure where it was.– Bhagavata Purana, 10.76.21
The verse above is a clear indication that this Vimana had advanced camouflaging and holographic technology. The examples of the Pushpaka and Shalva’s Vimana are just the instances of aircrafts in the ancient texts, which navigate within the earth’s atmosphere, occasionally entering the mesosphere. Let’s move on to interstellar travel…
Vimanas in Space Travel
The Puranas mention Lokas, commonly translated as realms. Common Lokas include; Devaloka, the abode of the Devas; Satyaloka, home of the creator Lord Brahma and his wife, Saraswati; Dhruvaloka, the starry realm of Dhruva and many more. Vimanas are used to travel between these realms in the Puranas. Is this proof of space travel in the ancient texts?
Once, three Asura brothers prayed to Lord Brahma to get three invincible fortresses. One city moved around Devaloka, the other traversed the sky (space) and the third hovered over the earth. Intriguingly, these fortresses were built by the same Danava who built Shalva’s Vimana — Maya. Are Maya and Vishwakarma, renowned architects of their time, aerospace engineers capable of building space cities?
The noble-souled Yayati got into a Vimana, and went to Devaloka accompanied by the messengers of Devas.– Skanda Purana 1.15.94
This verse describes the earthly King, Yayati leaving for Devaloka to be crowned as the King of Devas. What other proof is needed to certainly say that ancient Indians travelled from earth to other planets and solar systems with Vimanas? Are there descendants of ancient space travellers still out there on unknown planets?