Monday, January 26, 2009

A throwback to times before Christ





One of our visits was to the Edakkal caves situated on the western side of Ambukuthimala, about six kilometres east of Ambalawayal in Wayanad. The ‘mala’ or the hill must be about 500 metres above the surrounding area and you can spot the top of the hill from a distance, right at the beginning of the trek below. The hill, a local told us, once connected the high ranges of Mysore to the ports of Malabar.

There are prehistoric rock etchings on the walls of the caves. These are said to have drawn the serious attention of archeologists and historians worldwide. At the entrance, a signpost indicates that the earliest petroglyphs (there are three sets) date back over 5000 years, centuries before the birth of Christ.

Perhaps the caves were inhabited, nobody can say for sure. There are many legends. According to one, arrows fired by Lava and Kusha, the sons of Rama, formed the caves. Another has it that Rama killed Surpanakha, the sister of Ravana, in the narrow fissure at the southern end of Edakkal cave.

The elders in our group beat us all in the race to the top. They were all given prizes for their efforts. But even they couldn’t reach the first cave – the climb was steep and time was short. One of us though managed to enter the first cave and take pictures of the etchings. He was the one who braved the rocks to reach the waterfall earlier.

Pictures show the scene at the start of the trek to the caves, details about the etchings on the signboard, the way to the caves, and a banner down below that shows what the etchings are like.

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