Subhashis Das at the megalithic site of Rola, India
Gargi Gupta, writing for the Diligent Media Corporation Ltd on Sunday, 30 March, reports on the plight of megalithic structures in Chhattisgarh, India –
They look like large stone boulders plonked randomly on the red, mineral-rich soil on the outskirts of Chitarpur town in Chhattisgarh’s Ramgarh district. To look at, no one would think these are remnants of an Iron Age settlement, and date back to between 1000 BC and 1500 BC. Rough-hewn and uncarved, these large stones called megaliths lack the grandeur of the temples, tombs and palaces built by our ancient kings and emperors, the sophistication of the Indus Valley Civilisation’s urban system or the obvious aesthetic appeal of the sculptures or rock art of Ajanta caves. Neither are they as distinctive as Stonehenge in Britain, arguably the most famous megalithic structure in the world.
So you can’t really blame the owner of the brick-kiln near these menhirs (standing stones) in Chitarpur who has slowly been encroaching on the field where the stones lie scattered. “We are not very sure how many, but some of these megaliths have already been lost,” says Rituraj Bharti, a conservative architect with Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), which is preparing a plan to document and preserve megalithic sites in Chitarpur and Hazaribagh (in neighbouring Jharkhand). An interpretation centre to spread awareness about these structures among visitors and locals is also planned.
This would be the first time an official body is taking steps to conserve the megalithic heritage of Chhattisgarh, says Subhahsis Das, a Raipur resident who has also been documenting megalithic structures in and around Hazaribagh and campaigning to preserve them for the past two decades. Sadly, the Archaeological Survey of India has not excavated and does not preserve all but a handful of the most well-known megaliths such as Junapani in Maharashtra’s Vidarbha region, the unique ‘umbrella-stone’ megaliths of Cheramanganad in Thrissur, Kerala and Burzahom in Kashmir. His website megalithindia.in is the single largest repository of information on the subject.
Full article here. Read more about Subhashis Das here.