Saturday, April 2, 2011

Marayoor, the land of Dolmens in Kerala, India

Where is Marayoor located?
Marayoor  is the only place in Kerala with natural sandalwood forests and is located in the Idukki District in the state of Kerala in India. Marayoor is located at about 42 kilometers north of Munnar while you drive through Udumalpet to go to Munnar. The name Marayoor is said to have derived from the word ‘mara’ which means hide in both malayalam and Tamil, then ‘Ooru’, a  village, that is,  meaning, an  hidden village. 
The name of Marayoor
There are two sides to say how the name Marayoor was derived. One says that the five Pndava Brothers stayed here when they went  hiding for a year during their vanvasam period and there is  another saying that the village got its name because it is hidden due of the surrounding hills of the western ghats.  
Ancient history of Marayoor
Marayoor has claims that it is there from the stone age times, that is, it is said to be as old as 10000 BC  The land even now has the dolmens, caves , rock edicts and engravings to declare its rich heritage  and it is also said that when Tippu Sultan defeated Thirumalai Naicker ,the King of Madurai, in the 18th century, people migrated to this area.  They created five villages named Karayur, Keezhanthur, Kanthalloor, Marayoor and Kottakudi. These villages are also known as Anju nadu and tribals are still there living  in these villages with their unique customs.

Dolmens or the Portal tombs

Dolmens, also known as Portal Tombs,  date from the early neolithic period that is 4000 to 3000 BC . They are set in clusters of 2 to 5 in numbers which are believed  to be the burial tombs of a family. There are many such, in fact more than hundreds, found in the area Alinchuvad, located at about 7 kilometers from Marayoor. It is also said that the tribals continued to use these tombs for burial, till they were destroyed in 3rd CE.

Rock Paintings of Marayoor 

There are rock paintings which are a part of Marayoor heritage as well. An Ezhuthu Guha literally meaning cave of writing is found in Kovilkadavu and manala in the Marayoor panchayat There are about 90 rock paintings can be seen in Attala and is situated in the west part of the Marayoor township.  These rock paintings that are located in  colossal east facing rock shelter at about 1500 ft above sea level, are mostly abstract designs except for a few animal and human figures.
These Ezhuthu Guha paintings have been found in the Koodakavu sandalwood reserve forest at the Marayoor Panchayat and the region attracts many visitors every year ever since the  place was brought to the public attention.

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