Quarrying, vandalism ruin megalithic site

Reaching the archaeologically-significant megalithic burial site near Chapparkallu in Devanahalli, about 55 km from Bangalore, is not easy as the area is surrounded by quarries, with the earthmovers throwing up dust.

But once there, you see a site, dating back to 8 B.C. to 6 B.C, and protected by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) since 1951, thoroughly vandalised.

The area, better known for supplying granite blocks to Bangalore, is part of an ancient civilisation that existed in the Arkavati basin.

A majority of the subterranean rectangular burial chambers (cists) and Cairn Circle in a eucalyptus grove on a hillock, spread across 6.5 acres of government land, have fallen prey to treasure hunters, while several others have been damaged from quarrying. Pottery and iron fragments of that period are still seen scattered in the opened cists.

The ASI has dashed off letters to the Department of Mines and Geology and the Department of Kannada and Culture to prohibit quarrying and protect the few burial chambers that remain. It has also sent its field officers to assess the damage and take steps to prevent further ruin.

“The destruction of the burial site has been taking place systematically over the years, and now almost all the 50 graves have been vandalised,” said a village resident of Chapparkallu. Quarrying has been under way for over a decade now, he added. “After the ASI realised that the site was being vandalised, they put up boards stating it is protected. But, it hasn’t helped much,” he said, adding that most of the chambers were prised opened in the last five years.

What is even more shocking is that a road has been laid over some burial chambers to enable heavy vehicles to pass through. Meanwhile, an ASI source said: “Some of the burial chambers were vandalised even before it came under ASI protection. The geomorphology of the site, that had remained intact for centuries, started changing suddenly due to urbanisation. However, the site will be fenced to prevent further damage.”

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Printable version | Sep 28, 2021 2:05:00 AM |

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