Since we came back from Doha and resettled in our home town of Kochi, Geetha and I started visiting many states of India which we had not seen so far. So also places within our own state. Travel has been always one of our passions. Soon we could regroup with three more old friends - late Govindan Kutty, Cherian and Venugopal- classmates of mine at the Engineering College hailing from the same city who have similar tastes and interests. Moreover we all were working initially in India but spent the hey days of our careers in Arabian Gulf states which was another catalyst to make our relationships warm. Along with them and their better halves, we could make a lot of trips within own state, rest of India and abroad. One such trip was specific for Marayoor, the only place in Kerala known for natural sandal wood forests. It is also known for ' Neelakurinji' flowers which blossom only once in twelve years! But we could end up visiting something I hardly knew of -Dolmen of pre historic days !!
Situated at +5000 ft above MSL, Marayoor can be reached by serpentine roads about 50 kms away from Munnar, the famous hill station. Due to its location and climatic conditions Marayoor is the only place in Kerala where Apples, Oranges, strawberries, Blackberries, Plums and Peaches are grown. Dolmens of Marayoor are locally known as 'Muniyara' meaning dens of sages. The way these dolmen are kept or I would say neglected by the Govt and public , I am sure that people over here are not fully aware of our own values in history. These dolmen could be the earliest monuments of its kind existing in the state, or one of such in India and rest of the world!
Dolmen in India...
About these dolmen I had read about years back somewhere but not much. As we walked up the steep hill enjoying the cool breeze of the afternoon and reached the place, I could find quite a number of such dolmen. Dolmen are burial chambers of prehistoric age meant for people of higher status in the society. They were buried in sitting positions. Even now this practice is continued among certain communities in India. The bigger the chamber the more important the person would have been. They are made of four stones placed on edges with a larger stone used as 'a cap stone' which are called megaliths. With the 'Anamudi' hill in the distant background, hundreds of such stone chambers all around is a scene which we will remember for a long time time to come.
These Dolmen belong to Neolithic age- a term used when man shifted from hunting wild animals to plants for a family style account- 4000 BC to 2000BC.It seems that many anthropologists and archaeologists visit this location from all over the world. But the site is completely neglected by the authorities!
While Kerala remains the state where maximum dolmens are found in India, they are also found in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra.
Dolmen are known to exist in Japan, Russia, South Korea, Ireland, Israel Jordan and China. In North Africa and European countries too they exist. The maximum number (35000) is found in South Korea where the UNESCO has declared as heritage sites.
In olden times people were superstitious to believe that those dolmen were creations of giants or even devils! Few centuries back some anthropologists shared the view that these dolmen are creations of certain Aegean tribes which is proved to be wrong later. Now that it is proved to be scientifically by 14 C radio carbon method which is available since 1940, the oldest is believed to be in central Europe/Northern Europe. I am not ready to buy this 'historical story' readily since the Europeans will go to any extend to show case that they have a superior past compared to others! More over I simply believe that past history of India and elsewhere in Asia were much superior to those of Europeans although the later happen to colonize and steal all the resources of Asians!
One of the dolmen preserved in South Korea
The absence of any metal is an indication of the age of the dolmen. The famous Stonehenge of UK is not a dolmen in the strictest sense of it but definitely it is made of stones including dolmen! Other older megaliths of the world are Gobekli Tepe (Turkey),Alit Yama (Israel), Carnac stones(France) and the Pyramids of you know where they are!