A group of researchers in Kerala have discovered a 20-foot menhir — a man made stone that stands upright — in Pathekkar hills in Udumbanchola thaluk near Nedumkandam in Idukki, perhaps the largest ever in the state. The newly-discovered menhir was nearly 20 feet tall and six feet wide with a thickness of 5 feet. Four menhirs and nearly 1000 small and big dolmens — a type of tomb in which a flat slab is laid on top of vertical megaliths — were found in the Pothamala hills at the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border, signally the existence of a major prehistoric necropolis in Idukki.
Rajeev Puliyoor, a researcher from Nedumkandam B.Ed college, told TNM, "It is the first ever sighting of such a menhir in Idukki district. The menhirs were situated in Kerala and Tamil Nadu border and were believed to have been used for Astronomy." Rajeev continues, "Earlier many group of dolmens were found in Marayoor in Idukki. But for the first time, a large number of menhirs were found in Idukki. The menhir was nearly 3,000 years old and it shows that Idukki district had active human presence then."
"These menhirs were planted in different directions. It also spreads to Bodinayakanur in Tamil Nadu. The continuation of menhirs in Kerala and Tamil Nadu shows that these areas were connected in a past era," Rajeev said.
Menhirs are monolithic slabs erected above the ground and may be sepulchral — relating to a tomb or internment — in certain regions, according to Rajeev.
“The four menhirs and dolmens were spread in the four hills of Pothamala in the region. We visited the region and accidentally discovered the menhirs," he said.
"This confirms that the Neolithic people of Tamil Nadu shared the same language family as the Harappan group, which can only be Dravidian. The discovery provides the first evidence that the neolithic people of the Tamil country spoke a Dravidian language," Rajeev said.
Rajeev further urged emergency action and study from the Archaeological Survey of India and the state archaeological department to delve further into the importance of these menhirs. He also noted that steps should be taken to ensure the protection of these prehistoric rocks in the hills.
For his part, Rajeev adds that they will continue their documentation. ”I will contact to Kerala Council for Historical Research (KCHR) to conduct a study and protect the menhirs in the region” he said.
Harikrishnan M and Jomon Jose, assistant professors at the Nedumkandam B.Ed College, also assisted in research.