The district panchayat has prepared a project to protect historically significant megalithic sites and to open a historical museum near the headquarters of the district panchayat at Painavu.

The project titled, ‘Discovering Idukki,' is being prepared with the technical advice and support of the State Archaeological Department and will be completed before March 2012.

District panchayat President Alex Kozhimala told The Hindu on Saturday that a project to assemble and protect megalithic dolmens and burial urns unearthed at different places is being drawn up for the first time. He said that Rs 10 lakh had been earmarked for the project. A school will be vacated near the district panchayat to set up the museum.

Mr. Kozhimala said that Idukki has several prehistoric sites and caves. Recently, a team of archaeologists had unearthed some historical sites in Munnar area.

The prehistoric caves with paintings recently unearthed near Munnar will come under the project.

In Kumily and Munnar, there are large prehistoric sites which face many kinds of threat.

The sites which will be covered by the project include the megalithic dolmens in Marayur, which are facing many threats due to lack of protection.

Mr. Kozhimala said that the museum would provide basic data for archaeological students and general visitors. Megalithic sites in Kochera area indicate the presence of a clan-based society.

He said that the District Planning Committee has already sanctioned the museum. Historian and writer K. Rajesh will prepare the project report and it will be implemented with the support of the Kerala Council for Historical Research. A team of archaeologists is expected to arrive in the district next week to identify the sites to be protected.

Mr. Rajesh said that the projects aimed at opening the prehistoric sites for the public while protecting them scientifically. He said that like Edakkal cave, there are a large number of prehistoric sites in the district that could be opened for public viewing.