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Friday, September 19, 2014

Settavarai Stonage Rock Art (Villupuram - Tamil Nadu)

Before we go to today's post, first is a news. I just started the FB Page dedicated to this blog. Do lend your support by liking the page!
After wrapping up the 3rd place, here comes the 2nd place... It's called Settavarai. The name of the place made me wonder, coz Setta means Dead in Tamil. But then I came to know it came from Sitthar Varai meaning the hillock of Tamil saint!
This was a rather uphill task. I mean quite literally! From the base its a short walk across a plain from behind the village houses.
Then there's an almost non-existing way to walk uphill. 

Just opposite was this another hill and I loved the way its rocks were placed and the way plants have grown among them!

They route uphill is filled with broken granite and in some places the archaelogical dept has made some ladders attaching boulders!
I think its the natural location of this place that kinda protects it from getting vandalized. Its almost half an hour to 45 mins to climb uphill in that route.
Before reaching atop, we did stop at a location to have something to eat and regain some energy. There atop behind a fence was the rock art! That's Gandhirajan and Veera Raghavan resting for some time. 
The most important drawing here is of this animal. Probably a goat with flames drawn all around it. There's an unidentified object in front of it. My best guess is that its a axe!
Unlike the other 2 places, here are some palm prints. Unusally some palms had 1-2 fingers missing. Gandhirajan's opinion is that, in those days, some people gave fingers are offering to Gods. So these plans may have printed by people who gave such offering.
Some symbols were also there. One was this curvy line, with dots forming straight line. 
Also spotted some fishes.... 
... and some geometrical patterns too. 
3 small boys, from the local village also accompanied us to the hill top. They were so much faster in climbing up and could climb slope-y boulders without any hold or support! I couldn't help but think, if you give training in anything since childhood, that get so easy to do, even the most difficult task! Once again while climbing down, at the same location where we rested earlier, we stopped for a nice group pic. One of those little boys clicked the shot with our camera!
Not just the rock art, here at Settavarai, the location, the trek, the view everything was definitely mind blowing!!!

TO GET THERE:
From Alambadi: On the way from Alambadi to Kilvalai, comes a village called Kandachipuram. There a right turn leads to Kilvalai and a left turn leads to Settavarai. 12 km on that road and a right turn at Kulakkarai Palama St and at about 2 km you'll spot the board of Tamil Nadu Archaelogical Dept.

On Google Maps: 12.167427, 79.259446

Dedicated to K.T.Gandhirajan & Veera Raghavan

Friday, September 12, 2014

Kilvalai Stoneage Rock Art Site (Villupuram - Tamil Nadu)

Reminding once again.... I just started the FB Page dedicated to this blog. Do lend your support by liking the page!
As I said in the last post, here's about Kilvalai. Actually pronounced Kilvazhai in Tamil. It was almost evening by the time we reached there. Yup, we had a little traffic jam in those roads. 
In that little mud tracks, where we were trying to ride our van, we came face to face with this truck filled with sugarcane. After a bit of struggle, a sweet, kind request to the man who was unloading the sugarcanes, finally got the vehicle a bit more to the side, to let our vehicle, pases through and also gifted us a couple of sugar canes!!!

A bike or car could have been taken till the boulders, by in our case, the van had to be parked close to the road and we had to walk up to the boulders, through several rocks, heavy thorns, eucalyptus plantations, etc finally we managed to reach the boulders on which the painting were made. 
There are 2 such boulders and we skipped the first coz the second was more extensive. Very sadly, very very sadly. the paintings here are almost going away. They're very faint. Sharing just a few here! 
One of the painting was this, depicting 3 people. 1 seated on a horse with a sword on the side. 1 more standing beside him. 1 more who looks like he's inviting these 2 people.
Another painting was of 4 people, who appear to be standing on a raft.
Another looked like 5 symbols. May a word and may be that was the script of the language that existed then!

We stood on the boulders, till the sunset, and started our journey back.... Coming up next is the post on the place we went second, the awesome Settavarai - wait n watch!!!

TO GET THERE:
From Alambadi: 10km via Sengamedu, Kandachipuram. A right turn at Kandachipuram, followed by 5km ride with first lead to Melvalai and then Kilvalai. A dirt track on the right, close to a govt., building is our path. 

On Google Maps: 12.036842, 79.340298

Dedicated to K.T.Gandhirajan & Veera Raghavan

Friday, September 5, 2014

Alambadi Stoneage Rock Art Site (Villupuram - Tamil Nadu)

Before we go to today's post, first is a news. I just started the FB Page dedicated to this blog. Do lend your support by liking the page!
Recently while teaching art history at a college, I was telling about Lascaux and Altamira Stone Age Rock Art, I thought why the hell are we sitting a classroom while I can very much take them to similar sites when they are so near by and that's exactly what happened. We started off a wee bit late, and reached Villupuram at about 12 noon. Well, 25 people trying to co-ordinate with each other, has its own disadvantages!!!
The first site was supposed to be Settavarai, which needs a bit of trek, but at 12 noon that would be just plain stupid. So our first stop was Alambadi, a site of New Stone Age drawings. 
The location immediately reminded me of Dhalavanur, in the middle of paddy fields. For a change, this was in the middle of millet fields! Right there, surrounded by cultivation, were a few boulders of rocks and a little temple atop. The locals said that the temple was of Lord Muruga and people planted spears (that's what Lord Muruga holds) as an offering. There was little ladder to reach the top, but half way through is what we were interested in. 
On a boulder that has a natural cleft that inclines inwards & downwards, that's a huge wall that served as a graffiti base for our own forefathers. The entire wall was filled with layers and layers of drawings drawn over several years, overlapping each other. Mostly done in red color with Red Ochre.
Right at the centre was a huge 'something' which was elongated and had 4 legs. Any guesses??? That's a monitor lizard. In a later period, the same monitor lizards were shown with more detailing. The little lines around them are the hairs!
They were 'hunters & gatherers' remember? So they obviously killed monitor lizards also for meat. But they also made a point to draw what they saw inside the lizards. These are called 'x-ray drawings' by archeologists in which, within the outline of animals, their inner organs esp.,  the intestine is shown. 
There was also this human face, probably that depicted a mask, probably a ritual mask!!!
Something that intrigued me was this 2 feet. That made me think, if Pasupathi seal of Indus valley is from which Lord Shiva was derived, probably this painting of 2 feet should be from which Vishnu Padham was derived!!!  
There was also a pond depicted with an animal (most probably a deer) on its bank. 
There's a tree with 2 fishes beneath them.
There's an older painting of a bull and 2 calves.
Also there's some animal, may a deer, caught up in a trap.
What caught my attention was this. A tree with 2 honeycombs on it and a fellow climbing it, depicted half way through!!! Think of it, our stone age ancestors knew how to take honey out of honeycomb more than 3000 yrs ago!!!!!!

After a bit of rest, our next stop was Settavarai, but that post has got to wait. Next post would be on Kilvalai where we went after Settavarai. 

TO GET THERE:
From Tambaram, Chennai to Villupuram: 140km via Chengalpet, Tindivanam
From Villupuram Bus Stand to Alambadi: 30km (26km on Thirukkovilur road via Perumbakkam & Mambalapattu) and right turn. 4km via Karanai, Sengamedu).
Around that area look out for a rock boulders formation to the right. When you spot one walk across the cultivation to reach it.

On Google Maps: 12.017320, 79.295343

Dedicated to the experts who accompanied us, K.T.Gandhirajan and Veera Raghavan.

Friday, August 29, 2014

New Adventures at Horsley Hills (Chitoor - Andhra Pradesh)

On a recent long weekend, I went again to one of my favourite destinations - Horsley Hills!!! I've already told you about it here and here. And here's about the Adventure games of Horsley Hills. Well, there was an awesome surprise that awaited me when I went this time. 
All the adventure games here have changed for newer adventure games!!!!!! Yippeee.... This time too I did all of those and here are some videos of the new adventures. Btw, the height of the games has also gone up by about 5 ft - the more the merrier, isn't it??? 
This one below, is similar to the Earthquake of last time, but lengthwise swings. This was slightly less intense, but the problem was the holding wire that ran atop the head instead of arm height like last time.
video
The only thing that was not changed are the Spider man and Freefall...
video

video
And the below one, is my new favourite.... 
video
After all these was a beautiful mid day at the exquisite view of windy Galibanda.
Btw, that was our cottage. I've shared more about the accommodation available there in my earlier posts. Again stressing the fact that there's no point going without pre-booking accommodation. The number of rooms is only about 35.
Also, the guy at the Adventure zone too has changed. Now its Brijesh who can be contacted at +91 88979 06455.

TO GET THERE: 

Dedicated to Venkat

Friday, August 22, 2014

Gunduperumbedu Paleobotany site (Kanchipuram - Tamil Nadu)

Two things happened... One, ever since I visited Thiruvakkarai, my mom was telling me about a similar site much closer to Chennai. Two, I was taken by a some friends to a ultra-modern temple close to Sriperumbudur. When I was there, I opened my phone's GPS to find where I was exactly. My map showed close by, like within 3-4 km, the place that my mom told about - Gunduperumbedu! So I went back to the location again to see just Gunduperumbedu.
Infact I didn't have to go to Gunduperumbedu village at all. Even before reaching there, just after crossing the previous village, I asked the locals about 'Pookkal', as they call it. Poo in Tamil means Flower and Kal in Tamil means Stone. Since this is a Paleobotony site where the stones have fossilized on them, they are called Pookkal. That's coining of new word. Sensible, right? 
The locals told me to look for a small pond on the road side and a church beside it. Near that area, on the either sides of the road, would be several broken stones and the 'Pookkal' we're looking for would be among them. I looked for the pond, but I really couldn't find any pond in site. Then I tried to look for a Cross among the buildings to find the church, and I found it. Tried to get into the little lanes and yup, I did manage to find what the pond was. It was a bit on the drier side and I had earlier thought it was just a pit. 
After parking the bike there, I started to hunt for the 'Pookkal'. The stones there were pretty interesting. They pretty much reminded me of Thiruvakkarai. I think quite a few stones here are actually paleo-neolithic wood that's petrified, coz I could see images like annual rings on the stones.

After quite a bit of searching, we did find a few stones with print of leaves. But the real treasure if finding stones with impression of leaves and I did manage to find a few. They were everywhere on the road sides.
The location & geography was pretty much similar to Thirupporur & Siruthavur megalithic burial regions.
By the time, the a couple of locals came to see what I was doing and one of them went back to his home and brought in the treasure trove. A huge plank of about 5" x 10" with the impression of a long single fern leaf. Well, that piece has been requested by the Botony dept. of Pondicherry University. 

Anyways, the sad factors also cannot be ignored. First, the breaking of rocks.I dunno for what? But the rocks in this regions has been broken recklessly. Can you see how the rocks look perfectly cut, like they were detonated. May be they cut it for the construction of road or may be the buildings. In any case, several rocks have been destroyed. Its upto us to protect the rest. Second, this place really really has to be taken over by GSI (Geological Survey of India) before it becomes permanently damaged.
Btw, on a totally different note, did you know Madras just celebrated its 375th birthday??? If you don't know, Madras is presently called Chennai. But for the people of Chennai who've been living here for years together, as we always call it "Chennai is a City; Madras is an Emotion". Its been 375 years, since the British Raj had developed Madras. And as a dedication, Murugappa Group came up with this awesome song. Check it out!!!!

TO GET THERE:
In Chennai
From Tambaram: 16km via Mudichur Road, Manimangalam towards Sriperumbudur.
Buses go upto Kolathur on this road. A left turn at Kolathur leads to Vellarai vilage. Just after Vellarai, even before reaching Gunduperumbedu you'll spot this location.

Dedicated to Venkat
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