Kerala

‘Hero stone’ found in old trade path on Western Ghats

A ‘hero stone’ depicting an armed man on an elephant, discovered at Chathurangapara, near Nedumkandam.  

A one-foot-tall ‘hero stone’ depicting a man atop an elephant, was recently discovered at Chathurangapara near Nedumkandam on the Western Ghats. The area is rich in archaeological findings. Earlier, a large burial urn was unearthed from Hydermettu, near Nedumkandam, and a number of menhirs were found on a hill slope at Santhanpara, 30 km from Nedumkandam.

According to the members of the Archaeological and Historical Conservation Forum in Nedumkandam who discovered the stone, it is for the first time in south India that a clear image of a hero atop an elephant has been found. ‘Hero stones’ mark the valiant death of a person in a battle.

“This hero holds a bow and other weapons. He has ornaments on his ears and neck. Another person and an animal form is also seen nearby,” said Rajeev Puliyoor of the forum.

The stone was found near a banyan tree at the base of a hill at Chathurangapara. The place is believed to be part of an ancient trade route from Kerala to Madurai. Burial urns, menhirs, and dolmen have been unearthed from the stretch on the Western Ghats extending from Kumily to Marayur.

Right from Iron Age

Archaeologists say the region must have harboured a culturally enriched society in the prehistoric era. According to historian Rajan Gurukkal, it is difficult to date hero stones without inscriptions. Right from the Iron Age, it was a practice to erect them. It continued even into the late 19th century. Considering the relief features, the stone found at Chathurangapara could be of 15-16th centuries, he said.

Petroglyphs (carvings on rocks) similar to Indus script on megalithic-era menhirs were found at Chakkakkanam, near Nedumkandam, in 2019. Earlier, menhirs were found at Pezhumkandam on the banks of the Periyar.

Muziris link

According to P.J. Cherian, former director of Kerala Council for Historical Research (KCHR), the banks of the Periyar were home to a rich civilisation. It was connected to international trade from Muziris. Ever before that a culturally vibrant society lived in the high ranges, as is evident from the archaeological findings.

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Printable version | May 8, 2021 6:42:25 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/hero-stone-found-in-old-trade-path-on-western-ghats/article34379686.ece

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