The state of Tamil Nadi in southeast India contains a large number of dolmens spread over many areas. One of the most important locations is close to the village of Mallachandram, where two hills are strewn with approximately 200 dolmens. They are estimated to be around 3500 years old, dating from the Iron Age.
In many cases, all over the world, stones from dolmens have been re-used for building material. Fortunately that is not the case here. The reason is that the stone used in the dolmens was not of the highest quality, while the local population have a sufficient quantity of good quality stone at their disposal.
Mallachandram has some 200 dolmens, of a design known to scientists as ‘portholes’. There are four distinct types, the most common being a circular dolmen standing among a pile of stones.
The second type is a dolmen surrounded by a circle of piled up stones and with menhirs around it.
The third type is a sort of stone cist ringed by a little wall of upright stones. There are only a few examples of this type, and it is thought that they were used for the most important people in the community.
The fourth type is a simple grave without any extra embellishment around it. This is probably the oldest type.
Besides these four types, there are a few dolmens of yet another type, consisting of a standing stone surrounded by a stone circle.
Markings can be seen on many of the stones in the dolmens, most showing hunting scenes, everyday activities or a variety of different animals.
Location: The village of Mallachandram lies approximately 3 km inland from the NH44 national highway, on the way from Hosur to Krishnagiriis. To reach it you turn left after 25 km near Samalpallam.
Text Harrie Wolters
Translation Alun Harvey