Efforts on to protect rock art site in Karikiyoor

Fences installed, warning boards kept to prevent entry of tourists to Karikiyoor

June 14, 2019 11:35 pm | Updated June 15, 2019 09:12 am IST - UDHAGAMANDALAM

A section of the rock paintings in Karikiyoor that has been covered with graffiti.

A section of the rock paintings in Karikiyoor that has been covered with graffiti.

Efforts are being taken to protect the more than 5,000-year-old rock art site in Karikiyoor in Kil Kotagiri, with the district administration and the Forest Department installing fences and warning boards to prevent illegal entry of trekkers and tourists.

The Nilgiris District Collector J. Innocent Divya said to The Hindu that fences had been put up to deter the illegal entry of tourists into the forest to get to the rock art site which has been desecrated by visitors with political and religious graffiti over the last few years.

“We have also installed warning boards that announce penalties for illegal entry,” said Ms. Divya. Staff had been posted by the Forest Department too to stop illegal trekkers from making their way to the site.

Protected site status

The district administration has also written to the Archaeology Department and the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to get the site registered as a protected area of significant historical value. A team is to visit the rock art site in a couple of weeks to take stock of the value of rock art, while the district administration has also written to the Forest Department in-charge of Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve for a “No-Objection” certificate so that the site can be handed over to the ASI for better protection. Though the rock art site was accessible only from the Nilgiris, the site itself was located in the Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve, officials said.

Kannan Ramaiah, an activist who has been highlighting the destruction of the rock art at Karikiyoor for the last few years, welcomed the development, but also said that any protection of the site must coincide with the protection of the forests that surround it. “Protecting the rock art site is important, but also the forests surrounding it are home to critically endangered species of vultures and a haven for all kinds of wildlife. Once the rock art site is secured, the government body which is in-charge of protecting the site must not open it up for mass tourism,” he cautioned.

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