In the wake of Western Ghats being declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, archaeologists and historians are now emphasising on the significance of Edakkal Caves in Wayanad and the fact that the location fulfils all the criteria that can qualify it as a World Heritage Site.

The Department of Cultural Affairs and Archaeology organised an all-day seminar and workshops on the Edakkal rock engravings, which was inaugurated by the Minister for Cultural Affairs, K.C. Joseph.

Director General for the Centre for Heritage Studies M.G.S. Narayanan, in his keynote address, traced the history of its discovery.

He also said the site needed promotion and conservation, and Archaeology department in Kerala was in neglect.

“As compared to other States, the department here seems backward and there is a need to bring it back to its days of former glory,” he said noting the decline in its significance after Independence.

To stress for the World Heritage status for the caves, a brief report on the site needed to be prepared and presented at an international seminar to be held in Chennai on August 10 by UNESCO, said the experts.

Comprehensive study

On a long-term basis, a more comprehensive study would be organised that would take into account various aspects of the caves including environmental development, visitors movement and other management plans, they said.

“The heritage of any society is the true reflection of its political and cultural structures and Kerala is sadly lagging behind in the process of conducting scientific studies on the site,” said Director of the Department of Archaeology, J. Reji Kumar. He added that all proposals and points brought up during the one-day seminar would be deliberated and condensed into the report, to be presented at Chennai.

Lack of research

The Minister added that because of lack of research and awareness, the world was yet to be convinced of the wealth that such sites held.

He called for an intensive study, a point reiterated by epigraphist M.R. Raghava Warrier, who said the images engraved on the Edakkal caves were under threat from exposure to sunlight and from rainwater seepage that helped moss grow on the cave walls. He emphasised on “preventive conservation”, and called for a careful study to be conducted by those with enough expertise to do so.