The rock paintings in the Marayur-Chinnar forest belt of Kerala, the second largest concentration of cave paintings in south India, are at high risk of degeneration.
As per isolated studies conducted so far, there are 21 cave paintings of red ochre in this Kerala-Tamil Nadu region, a senior official of the Kerala Forest Department told The Hindu. Over 50 caves, situated in the forest belt, are believed to be of the prehistoric period. The cave paintings in Ezhuthala and Attala in Marayur sandal division, the most noted ones, were in more danger.
The official said the rock paintings were in the eastern slope of the Western Ghats, at around 3,000 metres above sea level. The sandy rocks were highly prone to degeneration, he said, adding that they needed new methods of protection. Without assured protection, visitors could not be allowed entry there, he added. Rocks were in bad shape in the Madathala cave at Alampertty in the Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary, which was accessible to visitors.
The first cave painting in Marayur was identified in Ezhuthala Madi on the Tamil Nadu border by Padmanabhan Thampi as part of his research paper in 1974. In 2009-10, archaeological researchers Benny Kurien and Dhanushkody documented the paintings in Ezhuthala, where the largest number of paintings was identified.
Author: Giji K. Raman | Source: The Hindu [January 07, 2015]