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| Last Updated:18/03/2021

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Preserve ancient rock paintings in the Nilgiris: Intach


 Ancient rock paintings at Parivarai near Karikaiyur



The Intach (Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage), Nilgiris chapter, has sought the intervention of the district administration to bring rock art, located at Parivarai in the forest area near Karikaiyur village in Kilkotagiri, under the supervision of the state archaeology department and cordon off the heritage site.




According to a representation to the collector by Intach-Nilgiris chapter, the ancient rock art located near tribal village Karikaiyur has been partly vandalized by miscreants over a period of time.



It is high time the government took concrete action to preserve the heritage site and cordon it off, it said.




The rock art, dating back to 10,000 BC, is believed to be of the local tribal’s depicting their lifestyle. According to sources, to make quick money, villagers themselves take trekkers, tourists and research scholars to the site.




Dr S Suresh, Tamil Nadu state convener, Intach, told TOI, “The rock paintings at Parivarai near Karikaiyur village are definitely pre-historic and may be old as 10,000 BC and could be comparable to the famous pre-historic rock and tribal arts in Madhya Pradesh.”




He further said, “When I visited the site 15 years ago, I could see graffiti on the paintings. It is a difficult trek to reach the site. Now, the site is further damaged, meaning more people are visiting the spot.”



Parivarai, the site of the painting, is 7km inside the forest near Karikaiyur, a Kurumba village.



According Suresh, the paintings comprise some 500 images of humans and animals. The style, using red and white in wet colour technique, is similar to those found in Madhya Pradesh, one of the oldest rock paintings in the country.



“There are theories that right from the Stone Age, tribals lived in the Nilgiris,” he said.



Without the help of the local tribals, one cannot reach the rock face which is 300ft high and 500ft long. A deep valley lies below the rock, making it inaccessible.



“Most of the villagers take the visitors to the site to make money. In turn, the visitors vandalize (the site) by writing their names or symbols on the paintings,” said a local source.



Stating that it is a masterpiece of evidence of pre-historic civilization, Suresh added, “The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) or the Tamil Nadu State archaeology department should take action to preserve the site. They should declare the site as protected area. Otherwise, the prehistoric art cannot be saved.” He also suggested that the archaeology department could remove the graffiti by using safe chemical technique.



J Innocent Divya, Nilgiris Collector, told TOI, “Based on the representation by Intach-Nilgiris chapter, a letter has been sent to the state archaeology department a month ago.” She added, “The matter will be pursued in the interest of the Nilgiris and its oldest civilization.”




Source: Times of India, 04 June 2019, Chennai.