Physical Settings of the Megaliths in the Western Ghats Region of Kerala: A Study Based on Observations of Iron Age Burial Sites in the Malampuzha Reservoir Region and its Peripheries

Sree Neelakanta Government Sanskrit College, India

The Western Ghats region of Kerala possesses a diversity of megalithic and burial mounds dating from the early Iron Age (c. 800 BC) onwards. Research in the last four years in the Malampuzha reservoir area of the Western Ghats (known as Vadamala Hills) in the Palakkad district of Kerala has identified more than a dozen of these archaeological sites, and more than 200 monuments. They consist of megalithic urn, dolmenoid and cist burials, dolmens, cairn circles and stone circles, often clustered together. The burial monuments are generally found on the tops and slopes of hills. Settlements have yet to be identified in the region, but evidence of artisanal activity has been recovered. Architectural features of the Malampuzha burial structures are similar to those found in other megalithic sites recorded in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. The sites in the Malampuzha reservoir area are in a state of decline, with more than half the sites submerged under water for the greater part of the year. In this presentation, I discuss the new megalithic discoveries at Malampuzha, their significance for understanding the spatial and temporal distribution of Iron Age burial structures in southern India, and what this means in terms of our understanding of societal complexity during the Iron Age in the Kerala region.