The two-feet-tall Kullar Caves in Jawadhu Hills, near Polur town, in Tiruvannamalai may soon bustle with activity as the Forest Department has planned to make the location atop the hillock a tourist spot, allowing guided trekking trips to the isolated caves.
Forest officials said the Jawadhu Hills on the side of Tiruvannamalai had about 250 tribal hamlets in 11 village panchayats. “The idea is to give field exposure to youngsters on forest wealth and rich heritage,” said S. Gunasekaran, Forest Range Officer, Jamunamarathur Range.
As per the plan, a group will be taken on a guided trek to the caves. They will also be shown the fauna and flora in the region. Tribal people from the surrounding hamlets will be roped in as guides. A nominal fee will be charged that will go into the Tribal Development Fund of the Forest Department. A night halt in one of the tribal hamlets will also form part of the trip, and dishes from the local cuisine will be served to the visitors.
At present, the Pattarakadu reserve forest has 110 caves atop the hillock. Motorable roads are available up to 17 km, navigating into deep forest areas. However, the real challenge for trekkers comes at Keel Cheppali, a tribal hamlet, as visitors have to walk from this hamlet for at least 7 km to reach the caves. They also have to pass through another tribal hamlet, Mel Cheppali. It will take, on an average, five hours to trek to the caves. The reserve forest, which covers 7,000 hectares, is home to spotted deer and peacocks.
Recalling the manner of their discovery, local archaeologists said the caves in Jawadhu Hills were found by a team from the Tamil Nadu State Archaeology Department in 1972. It was believed, especially among tribal people, that dwarfs lived in the hills centuries ago.
Dolmens in the plains were common but the ones atop hills were rare. Most of them were found in clusters. They were made of rough-cut rocks of different sizes and shapes and covered with cap stones, while many were semi-circular in shape with a perfect circle carved in the slab, sealing the front. The porthole (circle) on the slabs are found on the eastern side of the dolmens. It has been theorised that they were meant to be prayer offerings.