Saturday, September 25, 2010

Megaliths and more...

I was at Hirebenkal in north Karnataka three weeks ago. This is a little village that is a mere 35km from Hospet but miles away in terms of crowds, facilities, and even accessibility. In the middle of the hills near the village is a fascinating cluster of hundreds of megalithic monuments - different types of dolmens, cists (burial chambers) and cairns (stone circles), all set amidst the dramatic boulder-strewn landscape that is so characteristic of northern Karnataka. Earlier this week, I wrote a story for Deccan Herald on this place.

Overall, the site is still relatively undisturbed, perhaps because of a taboo among people in Hirebenkal against going there. But clearly, the taboo is not widespread, for we met people from neighbouring villages who regularly bring their goats and cows here for grazing. It made for an interesting sight, seeing cows grazing amongst 2000-year-old megaliths... Only in India!

Of course, the feeling that the site had been untouched all those years was only an illusion. The picture on the right is of a cist, recently dug up by people who thought they would find treasure buried in it.

Hirebenkal is also chock-full of rock art - paintings done by the ancients on rocks in the area, showing deer, people, geometric designs, etc. More on that in a later post.