Andhra Pradesh

Megalithic burial site in a state of neglect

The megalithic burial site at Venkatapuram near Tirupati, with a mobile tower in the background.   | Photo Credit: A_D_RANGARAJAN

For many, it is just an uninhabited waste land abutting the Tirupati-Kadapa national highway and the Renigunta-Kadapa railway line. Not many know that this piece of land on the outskirts of Tirupati is actually a treasure trove of knowledge that has the potential to open new vistas in archaeological research.

Located in the little-known Venkatapuram village tucked between Chengareddypalle and Karakambadi, it is a megalithic burial site believed to date back to 500-300 B.C. The region is full of history and is an indicator to the likely presence of prehistoric human civilisation.

The burial of corpses by megalithic people bears a distinct signature. Some used cairn packing (pouring heap of pebbles over the tomb), some drew anthropomorphic figures on the tombstone and some had a Dolmen’s chamber with a capstone. However, what one finds in Venkatapuram is a ‘stone circle’, that is, a circle formed by placing boulders around the grave.

According to V. Ramabrahmam, an assistant professor of history and archaeology at Yogi Vemana University, Kadapa, megalithic people believed in life after death and that the soul would travel to other worlds. Hence they kept food items and tools inside the chamber for use by the dead person.

Plenty of evidences

Chittoor district has wide presence of megalithic culture. In fact, this particular area bounded by Karakambadi, Mallemadugu, Vedallacheruvu and Rallakaluva has a rich history. M.L.K. Murthy, a professor of archeology, was the first to report Rallakaluva as an Upper Paleolithic site, nearly five decades back.

Around 300 megalithic burial sites have been identified so far across Chittoor district, 210 of them by Prof. Ramabrahmam himself. Many of them are in a state of disarray and some have already vanished.

“The granite hunters are the first to eye them, followed by land encroachers and infrastructure developers,” says Challa Sivakumar, a conservation activist and founder of Archeology Research Group (ARG), which strives to create awareness on heritage.

“There is evidence of existence of earlier historic man in this area, established by continuation of culture, which needs to be preserved,” Mr. Sivakumar told The Hindu.

Prof. Ramabrahmam and Mr. Sivakumar stumbled upon this site by chance when they made a visit along with a research scholar J. Narayana some time back.

Of the six burials, there are only five today and the ‘missing’ one has been replaced by a newly-erected mobile tower.


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Printable version | Jul 24, 2021 3:57:22 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/megalithic-burial-site-in-a-state-of-neglect/article23476045.ece

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