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Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Standing Stones

A friend of mine said they could possibly be fossilized dung of dinosaurs, straight out of Jurassic Park, understandable as he lives in the city of Dream Merchants.
I asked an old woman, who works on a farm cultivating peanuts when the rains are good and she said, “They were shepherds, long ago they were cursed by a Yogi who had turned them into stones and they have been standing here since then.

I tried touching one which was likely looking with my foot, expecting it to turn into a damsel; No luck.
They have survived long, only significant specimen of Menhirs in Peninsular India.
How long did they stand there in those windswept plains, exposed to elements: periodic floods and persistent wind?

Conventional wisdom  places them between 1300 BCE and the beginning of the Current Era, as they belong to a common heterogeneous basket of burials called ‘Megaliths’, Big Stones, which belonged to the Iron Age.

Primarily they are of four kinds: Cists, Dolmens, Stone Circles and Menhirs and they were erected to commemorate a hero or a prominent person after their passing away, usually at the site of their cremation.
The first three are enclosures; they were built around the mortal remains of people.

While the Menhirs are freestanding stones
Before I could consult the only expert in the field, my friend Yogesh restrained me, he probably was scared and didn’t want to trust the temper of this famous companion of Asterix.

However, their names are a clue: Asterix, the Star and Obelix, the Menhir maker.

Yogesh was part of the team which assisted Prof. Kameshwar Rao of the Indian Institute of Astrophysics, who was trying to decipher astronomically significant data from the structural remains of the Indian Stone Age.
What they had found is astounding:

The Standing Stones were laid out in rows: in line with the trajectory of the two significant annual solar events, The Solstices.

They belonged to a time probably a thousand years before Aryabhata, or Pythagoras.

The land around these Menhirs was covered by a layer of stones and pebbles; a close look revealed many used and discarded stone implements. From the technology employed and the styling, they belonged to the Middle and Upper Paleolithic: In South India these cultures date back from 3000 to 30000 BCE.
The Menhirs belonged to a different genre in relation to the other types of Megalithic burials.
Were they older than the conventional 2nd Millennium dates they are credited with?
These Menhirs are not far from Hyderabad, probably a hundred miles or so, on a dry rocky spur jutting into River Krishna. A couple of minutes off the highway, under the high tension power lines lay a few acres of cultivated land, but fortunately, not so intensively, in spite of its proximity to the river, which is the only reason for their survival.
But there is ample evidence of damage in the neighboring fields. Many of them were removed and some still lay there serving as bunds.

I must thank my young friend, Yogesh Mallinathpur of Deccan College, who had taken me there. I am sure there will not be any left when I visit next. Pressure on the land will ensure their annihilation in our lifetime.


  1. Wow ! Awesome ! All this in our very own backyard and we (The Govt. ) does little or nothing to preserve and protect these sites of enormous historical value. Congrats once again on this find and for bringing it to the public purview. Incredible India ! Really !!!

  2. I am not sure if I should feel exhilarated about this or feel sad. Sai, when you too me there, there wasn't even a fence o a sign. Nothing! It's a miracle that these megaliths survived thousands of year after being erected! Now with rapid expansion of land values, it may very soon that these would be gone - broken up and used to build parapet walls in someone's house. I wonder why the ASI does not purchase the land and secure it!