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History gathers dust as museum remains shut

Giji K. Raman
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In ruins:The Heritage Museum at Kuyilimala near Painavu in Idukki district.– Photo: Giji K. Raman
In ruins:The Heritage Museum at Kuyilimala near Painavu in Idukki district.– Photo: Giji K. Raman

There is always something more to Idukki. Behind its scenic beauty lies a vast layer of untold stories of human life. The Heritage Museum opened here last year was an attempt to bring these stories of prehistoric times alive by displaying a vast collection of artefacts, weapons, potteries, iron swords and copper beads excavated from the High Ranges of Idukki. But the museum, which showed the visitors life in the time of megaliths, is now remaining closed.

P.L. Nizamuddin, a journalist here, says tourists who visit the district come here in search of the museum. But they go back disappointed. “It shows you the rich history of the district prior to the settlers’ period and before planters reached here”, he adds. He blames official apathy for the current state of the museum.

The studies on prehistoric times had been initially confined to the Anjunad area of the district. But the excavations, carried out as part of the ‘Discovering Idukki’ project, proved that the high ranges and the Western Ghats contained vast treasure of knowledge of civilisations.

The excavations were mainly held in the areas of Karithode near Nedumkandam, Anjuruly and Memarikudy and in the forest areas of Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary. The materials collected were displayed on the museum.

“The collections at the museum are enough to prove that an ancient civilization had flourished along the Periyar and its many tributaries,” says former district panchayat president Alex Kozhimala, who took the initiative to open the museum. He says an archaeological exploration will shed more light on the history of the district, which has a large collection of burial urns and dolmen.

The Hindu had earlier reported on the perishing of a large megalithic burial urn outside the museum after it was exposed to rains. The panchayat president says if the museum can be opened during the tourist season, especially during the opening of the Idukki dam, it will generate income through the sale of tickets and can be maintained as a self-sustained project.

The museum was opened with the support of the Kerala Council for Historic Research and the Archaeological Department on May 7, 2012. But it was soon closed. However, M.T. Thomas, the present district panchayat psresident, gives a vague hope to those interested history when he says there is a plan to reopen the museum.

The artefacts at the heritage museum point to prehistoric times and existence of a civilization.

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