KERALA

A hamlet steeped in history, hidden in the mists of time

Tiger Caves at Piralimattom in Idukki district has rocks that bear ancient imprints suggestive of human habitation.— Photo: Giji K. Raman  

Located on the border between Idukki and Ernakulam districts, Piralimattom is a hamlet that boasts some of the most important prehistoric sites in the country.

However, very few know about its existence. As of yet, no archaeological studies and explorations have been conducted here. The most notable site is the ‘Tiger Caves’. Offbeat travellers flock to these prehistoric caves to have a look at rocks that bear ancient imprints suggestive of human habitation. It is an arduous journey to the ‘Tiger Caves’ as travellers have to negotiate a difficult terrain, cover a two-kilometre-stretch on the Kavana Pulukkayath kadavu via Kadalikkadu and scale small hills on the way.

The two caves are located at a height of 50 feet and 30 feet respectively. The caves are just over six feet tall and wide — maybe a reason why prehistoric humans decided to settle down here. A dense overgrowth of weeds spreads through the deserted caves.

Earlier, villagers used to reside near the caves. Living members of that generation claim that the caves have a depth of 100 feet. One can get to the bottom of these caves by foot, they say. Over the years, however, caving of earth and stones has narrowed its depth.

It is believed that numerous figures and art carved on the walls have faded away. The most noteworthy remains in the caves are small structures built using rocks that suggest human habitation.

Piralimattom is also steeped in mythology. It is believed that the Pandavas, during ‘Vanavasam’ stayed at the temples at Moozhikal and Perumankavu situated nearby. The impression of a big foot here is believed to be that of Bhima.

The hamlet is considered to be archeologically important as it lies at the entrance to the High Ranges from where similar archaeological sites discovered. Prehistoric humans are believed to have built settlements in areas in present day Idukki district and on the border with Tamil Nadu on the Western Ghats. Only a detailed study can shed light on the archaeological importance of

An official of the KCHR told The Hindu that individual studies were conducted in to the historical sites in Idukki and Archaeological Survey of India could elicit the features of Piralimattom like other places of historical importance of Piralimattom. The hamlet is now facing a serious threat of quarrying, which is in full swing in nearby areas.

A villager cum-guide said though putting the hamlet on the tourism map was important, the immediate need was to protect the site from the quarry lobby.