History rests deep in these dolmens. These relics are links to a bygone era and would throw light on a culture that flourished ages ago. The burial chambers, found aplenty near the Edakkal caves in the valley of Ambukuthi hills in Wayanad district, are remains of an ancient megalithic culture. Social worker and author Abraham Benhur stumbled upon seven such burial chambers at his coffee estate in Krishnagiri and that prodded him to unravel the mystery behind the dolmens.
Benhur coffee estate is at Pathirakunnu in the Kolagappara valley near Sulthan Bathery, and also not far away from Kuppakoli, Ambukuthimala and Edakkal caves where the relics of the megalithic culture were unearthed. He found these cists while working on his coffee farm in the 1970s.
Later, many research scholars visited the burial sites to delve deep into history. Stones, weapons made of iron, oil boxes, utensils and jewellery were found in the burial chambers. The findings vouch for the fact that there was human habitation in Wayanad during pre-historic times.
Memories never die
Historians affirm that these dolmens were used to bury the dead or preserve the memories of the dead. But they couldn't pinpoint the community to which these burial sites belonged, though many studies were conducted. The chambers found in Krishnagiri had four stone slabs on the sides with a stone cover. Each cist has a porthole through which a person could crawl into the chamber. Such stone chambers were used to bury the dead and in places where there was scarcity of stones, the dead were interred in earthen pots.
The memories of the ancestors are rife in many relics such as dolmens, capstones, laterite caves and urns. And these are stories of kings, their empires and wars.
The dolmens found in Wayanad and Marayoor in Idukki district are similar to those unearthed in Israel, Russia, and certain parts of north India. According to Benhur, the tombs belong to Jews who migrated from West Asia. Even before Jewish colonies were established in Mattanchery and Parvur in Ernakulam district, the Jews had set foot in Wayanad, he added. The porthole in the chamber is to perform oil ablution after the dead is buried in the grave. In his book The Jewish Background of Indian People Benhur states that this ritual is followed by Jews after burying the dead.
But many historians and research scholars differ from Benhur. A deeper study into the megalith monuments of Wayanad is imperative as fables and myths relating to these burial chambers are lying intertwined to the mystery of many.
The megaliths refer to the burials in large stone structures located away from the populated area.