Marayur or Marayoor is a town in Idukki district of Kerala, India. It is located 42 kilometers north of Munnar on SH 17 connecting Munnar with Udumalpet, Tamil Nadu. Marayur is the only place in Kerala that has natural sandalwood forests. Ancient dolmens and rock paintings in Marayur date back to the Stone Age. In 1991 Marayur had a population of 9,590.
Marayur claims to be a part of a Stone Age civilization that is as old as 10,000 B.C. It is also home to a later period of large-scale dolmen-building. People migrated from Tamil Nadu to this area when the Madurai king Thirumalainaicker was defeated by Tippu Sultan, in the eighteenth century CE. The migrants created five villages, being Kanthalloor, Keezhanthur, Karayur, Marayur and Kottakudi. These villages were called the “Anju nadu”, literally meaning “five lands”.
Also called Muniyaras, these dolmens dolmens belong to the Iron Age. These dolmenoids were burial chambers made of four stones placed on edge and covered by a fifth stone called the cap stone. Some of these Dolmenoids contain several burial chambers, while others have a quadrangle scooped out in laterite and lined on the sides with granite slabs. These are also covered with cap stones. Dozens of Dolmens around the area of old Siva temple (Thenkasinathan Temple) at Kovilkadavu on the banks of the River Pambar, and rock paintings on the south-western slope of the plateau overlooking the river have attracted visitors. Apart from the dolmens of Stone Age, several dolmens of Iron Age exist in this region especially on the left side of river Pambar as is evident from the usage of neatly dressed granite slabs for the dolmens. At least one of them has a perfectly circular hole of 28 cm diameter inside the underground chamber. This region has several types of dolmens. Large number of them are overground with about 70–90 cm height. Another type has a height 140–170 cm. There is an overground dolmen with double length up to 350 cm. Fragments of burial urns are also available in the region near the dolmens. This indicate that the dolmens with 70–90 cm height was used for burial of the remains of people of high social status. Burial urns were used for the burial of the remains of commoners. The dolmens with raised roof might have been used for habitation of people. Why some people lived in the cemeteries has not been satisfactorily explained.
Ancient rock paintings are part of Marayur heritage at Attala, Ezhuthu Guha (literally means “cave of writing”), Kovilkadavu and Manala in Marayur panchayat. Attala is situated in the west part of Marayur Township and more than 90 painted motifs can be seen here. The rock paintings of Attala are situated in a colossal east facing rock shelter 1500 meters above mean sea level. Most of the paintings at Attala are abstract designs except for a few human and animal figures. Ezhuthu Guha rock paintings are sited in the Koodakavu Sandalwood Reserve Forest at Marayur in the Marayur Panchayat at an elevation of 1000 meters above mean sea level. More or less 90 painted motifs can be seen here. However, as the place is the most famous rock art site in Kerala, it attracts a large number of visitors and has been extensively vandalized since it was brought to wide public attention. Kovilkadavu is less than five kilometers from Marayur town and the place is famous for Neolithic dolmens and rock paintings. Ten 10 painted motifs are located on the south-western slope of the plateau overlooking the Pambar river. There is a rock painting at Manala in Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary of Marayur near the Alampetty tribal settlement. Here, a picture of a deer and a man can be seen. In close proximity to this art site, a new rock painting has been newly discovered.
Source : Wikipedia