Kerala

Thovarimala still dreaming of the ‘protected monument’ tag


 The prehistoric petroglyphs carved on a slanted rock on the Thovarimala hills in Wayanad district.

The prehistoric petroglyphs carved on a slanted rock on the Thovarimala hills in Wayanad district. | Photo Credit: E.M. Manoj

It was in 2016 that former Wayanad District Collector Kesavendrakumar asked the State Archaeology Department to expedite measures to declare the prehistoric petroglyphs (rock engravings) on the Thovari hills, under the Nenmeni grama panchayat in Wayanad, a protected monument.

But about seven years later, the authorities are yet to take any positive efforts to work towards the tag and conserve the site.

Mr. Kesavendrakumar had also directed the officials of the District Tourism Promotion Council and the Forest Department to adopt steps to develop the area into a major ecotourism destination, similar to the Edakkal caves but that, too, was in vain owing to the alleged apathy of the officials.

The engravings, including geometrical signs, fertility, arrow, and star symbols, besides the newly found anthropomorphic motif, look like the prototype of a figure at the Edakkal caves. They have been in a state of neglect for the past many decades. A group of rock art enthusiasts discovered the new motif on an angled rock while documenting the petroglyphs in the district a few years ago.

Though the Edakkal cave carvings outdo the Thovari carvings in beauty, the interpretive possibility of the carvings at the latter place is immense, historian M.R. Raghava Varier, who has made a detailed study on the petroglyphs, says.

The Thovari rock engravings are believed to comprise mainly geometrical and abstract figures. Some of the marks closely resemble the Brahmi script. One carving resembles a bird, a specimen of the primitive man’s creative instinct to depict the world around him despite the limitations of his crude tools.

However, miscreants and anti-social elements who reportedly frequent the Thovarimala have disfigured many of the carvings by wanton etching.

The area around 'Thovari' is rich in megalithic monuments and articles such as burial cists and urns, and stone circles.

The cave, in the middle of a forest in the South Wayanad Forest Division, provides visitors with a panoramic view of the place.

The Nenmeni grama panchayat vice president Tigi Cheruthottil told The Hindu that they would visit the site this week and adopt steps to conserve the prehistoric petroglyphs. The site would be developed as a major ecotourism project with the support of the Tourism department under the Destination Challenge project that aimed to develop at least one tourist destination within the limits of all the local bodies in the State, Mr. Tigi said.


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Printable version | Aug 12, 2022 7:08:10 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/thovarimala-still-dreaming-of-the-protected-monument-tag/article65514468.ece