Showing posts with label Dolmen. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dolmen. Show all posts

Dolmens of Talavadi

While ascending the Talavadi hill, we spotted a Dolmen like structure on its neighboring hillock. I had marked in my mind to explore this hill after our descent. Once we were at the base of the hill, we went ahead to explore the Dolmen/megalithic site. A short climb led us to a flat portion of the hill and we walked straight to reach the Dolmen site. Yes!  It was a huge dolmen with a stone circle. But the sad part was that it remained slightly damaged, although most of its parts were in place.   The stones used for the construction of Dolmen were huge and nicely dressed, having an even surface. The size of the cap stone of this Dolmen was roughly around 6 feet by 6 feet in length and breadth with its depth/height varying between 4 to 10 inches.
Disturbed Dolmen (No.1)
There was a natural water pond nearby and while exploring this area, we found another dolmen with a stone circle. But this had been completely destroyed with just only one of its stone slabs standing, while the rest were missing. Probably the stones were removed from here by miscreants. This stone Dolmen is very much similar to the first dolmen in its dimensions, going by the sizes of the stone circle and stone slab. After finding this, we became more curious and started to investigate this small hillock for more such structures. We went on to find another stone circle that lied completely disturbed. While walking around the hill, two fully intact Dolmens in another neighboring hill caught our attention and we were intrigued to explore that too!!!
Remains of Dolmen With Stone Circle (No.2)

  We tried to figure out the way to this neighboring hill which seemed nearby, but since no direct route was present, we decided to circumvent and reach this hill. This walk was much longer than we thought as we had to cross numerous small hillocks on the way. On one such hillock, we spotted a Dolmen without stone circle. The Dolmen was in a much better shape though a bit disturbed. Except for its front stone slab, all the others laid in-situ. Probably, this never had a front slab or it has gone missing. An anthill present inside the Dolmen obstructed our view and we couldn’t see much. 
Solitary Dolmen on Hillock (No.3)
Moving on from here and after walking for a good 15 minutes, we reached a check dam. After crossing the check dam, we entered into agricultural lands walking across which we found a bigger Dolmen that had been excavated by the locals in the greed for treasure; the site however would have carried plenty of bones and pieces of pottery. Here in this land we could spot few dolmens spread across, but the land comprised of standing crops which prevented us from venturing inside for inspection. Finally after crossing all the farm lands, we found a small foot route to the hillock on which we spotted the two intact dolmens. 
Excavated Dolmen ( No.4) 
Dolmen Along With Standing Crop (No.5)
Intact Dolmen ( No. 6 &7)
Finally after exploring the area we reached the spotted that had intact dolmen giving us a fair idea of the Dolmens once stood here. One of them had porthole on the eastern stone slab and only one we had come across here with porthole. These two were also so same size we had come across this area. Though nothing remained inside these dolmens, it was good to see them intact. From here we took other route were we came across the place which looked like ancient quarry site. Little further we found the fort wall probably the first tier of the Talavadi Fort. So we completed the circumventing the hill on which we spotted the dolmen. Thus completing adventurous trek and exploration.
Talavadi Hill in the Background
Dolmen No.6 
Broken Port Holed Slab 
Our efforts in finding any documentation related this place went in vain. By looking at the style and sizes of the stones, the Dolmens can be safely assigned to a period between 1000 BCE – 300 BCE. There are two articles in the KarnatakaItihasa Academy which mentions about the presence of megalithic sites around Kootgal hill, although they fail to mention about the existence of these dolmens. We only hope that the remnants survive the test of time and human greed. Megalithic structures are mysterious and need in-depth study in order to understand their purpose, rather than superficially relating them to burial practices. Off late, a lot of research is being carried out in this direction in order to gain more clarity.
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Dolmen Circles of Doddamalathe and Sulimalathe, Somwarpet

  While passing by this site during one of our journeys, an ASI board  directing towards the Dolmen circle site caught our eye, however, due to lack of time we couldn't make it and the name was included in our to-visit list. After prolonged postponement, during our recent road trip, we made sure we visit this intriguing site of dolmen circles. As we were already  aware of its location, we reached the village of Doddamalathe, located off the Somwarpet - Shanivarsanthe state highway only to realize that we were familiar with the surroundings of this megalithic site, as we had visited the famous pilgrim center of Honamma temple situated very close-by to the site( Read here).
ASI Board
 The two hills here are named Gavi Betta and Morey Betta. While the former is quite popular among pilgrims, the latter is a megalithic site. We inquired about the route of Morey Betta and a few confirmations here and there lead us to the hill base of Morey Betta. As none were present in the hill surroundings, we had to explore the right route to the site and wasting no time, we went ahead. Fortunately, we climbed the hill in the right direction and very curiously looked forward at each and every step to see if the dolmens were visible. The dense grassland blocked our vision and after climbing a certain distance we reached the megalithic site. With great excitement, we walked ahead. An incomplete barbed wire fencing around the circumference of the site ensured against trespassers and taking the right entrance.
The Path 
The Megalithic Site
We sighted a number of  Dolmen circles or cairn circles at the site, out of which some being undisturbed by external elements stood in a good shape while the others were in a disturbed state. However, the Dolmen circles here are quite intriguing. Locally known as 'Pandavara Gudi', owing to a popular belief that these structures were constructed during the period of Mahabharata (the epic war of kurukshethra between the Kauravas and the Pandavas), these Dolmen structures are  commonly  associated  with Pandavas across Karnataka, except in a few places. We were able to identify two types of Dolmen circles here. The first type and the most common of all consists of small sized stones arranged in the form of concentric circles (around 2 to 4 in number) with the dolmen placed at the centre. The second type consisted of big standing stones or Menhirs around  the first circle of stones followed by smaller ones around the other circle. The former may have been that of common men while the latter may have been the ones of important people such as that of a king, a leader or their peers. The Dolmen typically had four vertical stone slabs with a big cap stone placed over them, with one of the vertical slabs housing a port hole. Some of them resembled anthropomorphic figures.
Dolmen Circle, Gavi Gudda in the Background
Notice the Stone circle with Menhirs around the Dolmen 
Dolmen 
 According to R A Cole (the then Superintendent captain of Coorg), these structures may have served as Altars or temples. Further investigations conducted by R A Cole and his team revealed pottery of miniature sizes, similar in shape to those found in the other Coorg cists. It also revealed an interesting gold coated copper disc, though the coating had peeled off in some places. This megalithic site is almost 3000 years old and has survived against all odds. Another interesting story associated with this place is that when people dug a basin for a lake (presently the Honnammana kere),  no water was encountered and water came in abundance only post human sacrifices to the goddess. These burials of the dead formed the Pandavara Gudi. This theory is far from being the fact but this place needs some kind of restoration and maintenance.
Stone Circle

Though the ASI website mentions of two dolmen circle sites here, namely Doddamalathe and Sulimalathe, the locals confirmed that the two together form one site. The megalithic site being surrounded by both the villages of Doddamalathe and Sulimalathe around its periphery, it falsely seems as though there are two different sites. 

References: 
1. "The Megalithic Culture in South India", a book written by B.K. Gururaja Rao 
3. Kodagu First

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Hirebenakal - The land of the dead


            Hirebenekal is a small village located in Koppal district, off the Gangavathi - Gadag Highway. The hills of Hirebenekal are considered to be the most significant amongst the pre-historic sites in India. I was much excited to explore this place. One early morning, I left my room in Bellary and boarded a bus to Gangavathi town. Gangavathi at that time was decked with paddy fields, getting ready for harvest. As there were no direct buses to Hirebenekal, I took the bus that dropped me off closest to Hirebenekal and further hired a passenger auto to Hirebenekal. The village of Hirebenekal is located about a kilometer away from the highway. It is surrounded by a hill range that stands as a testimony to the pre-historic period.
Hirebenakal Information Broad
            My first task was to look out for a guide / local person who would help me go around this site and give the necessary information.  I found out about the care taker of this site but unfortunately could not get him. I was directed to the hill base to find him but in vain. Luckily, I was greeted by informative boards giving details about this place and its pre-historic culture.  I was glad to see the direction boards to the site.
About Megalithic Culture
Crocodile Painting
Rugged Terrain
  Moving as per the directions, somehow I lost track and climbed the wrong hill. After climbing and not finding any directions thereon, I decided to get down this hill from the opposite direction. During my descent, my eyes fell on one of the boulders that looked like it carried paintings.  A closer look confirmed the same and I was amazed to witness crocodile paintings on the boulder.  I was also quite surprised as this place is located away from any kind of water bodies. I continued my descent only to realize I’d lost my way again! Upon investigation the surroundings, a direction board caught my eye and I only wondered how one could miss this. Within no time I reached a big boulder with paintings, amongst which the paintings of people standing in a row and dancing was quite interesting. I spent quite some time here admiring the technology of creating paints that have survived tens of thousands of years of sun and rain, whereas paints of today may only manage to survive a few..
 
Rock Art 
People in Line
Dancing People

Cave painting
 
Dolmen Site 

            As time was ticking and the day getting warmer, I had to hurriedly reach the cluster of boulders upon which was the Kettle's Drum, another wonder of the pre-historic times. The boulder when tapped emits a sound made by the drum. Here on, I reached a pre-historic grave yard, which housed dolmens of various types, sizes, and shapes. It took me a lot of time to explore this area in depth. Lastly, I moved on to the site of the quarry and a pond.  It was time was to return and complete the quest for the day only to begin a more exciting one the next day!
Quarry and Pond
 
 

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Brahmagiri and Ashoka Siddapura

 After having an adventurous time at Jating Rameshwara we went in search of the Ashokan edicts of Ashoka Siddapura. The locals here on inquiring directed us towards another site of the same kind at Brahmagiri, which was supposedly much easier to locate than Ashoka Siddapura. (The edicts of Ashoka Siddapura  is situated in the interiors, far away the village and is not very popular as the Brahmagiri among locals). At Brahmagiri, we were greeted by the ASI care taker who volunteered cheerfully to be our guide for the afternoon. First, we visited the edicts of Brahmagiri, one amongst the best preserved and maintained Ashokan edicts in Karnataka. The symbols of the script are quite clear. He then showed us the translated meaning with the message it carried. The edict here generally speaks about peace and kindness to be shown towards all living beings.
Sign Board 
Enclosure Built To protect the Edict
Ashoka's Message of Peace
 
Kannada Translation of the Edict
  After carefully examining the edict, our guide took us to an ancient grave yard. Here we were able to witness a huge number of Dolmens belonging to the 2nd century BC, attributed to the Mauryan Empire. The ASI has built a compound in order to conserve these structures, few of which are intact. Though, beyond the compound limits, there are many such dolmens waiting to be preserved. Hereon, we were privileged to visit a place where accidentally, the ASI team discovered an URN burial (which is believed to be the grave of small children) as the ground had been washed away during monsoons.This discovery was accidental  and intriguing.
Dolmen with missing top slab
Intact Dolmens
Burial site outside the ASI enclosure
URN burial
We next moved on to find the edicts of Ashoka Siddapura. Our guide was kind enough to join us along  as he was much aware of its location. We had to walk about ten minutes though the fields to locate a cluster of boulders named as "Emme Thammana Gudda" on which the edicts are etched. Unfortunately, the edicts here are equally in a disturbed state as in Jating Rameshwara. They too spread the message of  peace and kindness, though the size of was comparatively smaller to Brahmagiri. Without our guide, reaching this place would have been impossible. He gave us information about the recent findings of Hindi inscriptions just behind these boulders, which probably hints us of the existence/beginning of Jainism during that period. The presence of a Jain temple in this environ also enhances this feel.
Edict of Ashoka Siddapura
Enclosure built to Protect the Edicts
View of Brahmagiri Hill from Emme Thammana Gudda
Hindi Inscriptions
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