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Monday 20 July 2020

Bannerghatta Dolmens – The Ancient Face Of Bengaluru City

Searching for dolmens, menhirs and other very ancient structures has become a passion for me and Tharangini but it never struck my mind there was one in my own backyard. To my amazement, this is just about 25 kilometers from my place where once ancient people had resided and left the footprints of their existence in the nearby forests.

The first view of a Dolmen
The first view of a Dolmen

Even as I traversed Bannerghatta forests** on the outskirts of Bengaluru to familiarize myself with its unique semi-deciduous topography, I literally stumbled on dolmens when we were looking at fresh elephant dung on the hills of  Doddibetta.

A view of the verdant Bannerghatta National park
A view of the verdant Bannerghatta National park

Now what are dolmens? A dolmen is in fact, a very simple, single chambered tombs for the dead or a grave or quoit. According to historians, it is a kind of single-chamber tomb from the megalithic times built with two or three upright or vertical stones or sometimes a number of stones covered by a capstone. It means that these structures have been erected during the late stone age. In fact, these stone structures from the megalithic times are found in peninsular India just like the famous megalithic structure of Stonehenge of England.

The dolmens erected by ancient people in Bannerghatta forests, Anekal taluk, Karnataka, India are spread across picturesque hills and if one wants to see all of them, it is not so easy. I could not believe that just so near my residence, ancient people had lived and maybe, had been buried on the hill ranges of Bannerghatta.

a close up of the dolmen
A close up of the dolmen

Around the world, wherever dolmens have been discovered, they date back to the Neolithic period. Further, in many countries, the collapsed remains of the dolmens which have been discovered show how their underneath have been shaped. However, the capstones which have stood the test of time and have been balancing perfectly for thousands of years on upright stones are maybe better shaped.  It clearly shows how people were adept at shaping and quarrying stones even in those days.

My friend Vishnu Narayan  informed me that not just Doddibetta but even other hill ranges were home to dolmens. “As youngsters, we used to roam these hills and were not aware of the importance of dolmens and we had seen many people dismantling them and using these stones for building purposes.” Fortunately, this part of the forests have given some protection to dolmens as I could clearly make out these structures despite the absence of any protection.

Dismantled stone pieces of dolmens are strewn all over Doddibetta
Dismantled stone pieces of dolmens are strewn all over Doddibetta

It is not a place one can easily visit as one has to climb this hill which is a habitat for wandering elephants, leopards and other wildlife. The sight of the Bannerghatta National Park from these ranges is an amazing and unbelievable experience and one is grateful that Bengaluru is indeed too lucky to have such verdant and biodiversity rich forests providing a ring of protection.

One look at the Bannerghatta dolmens – we can see large stones that have been erected but without using mortar or any other material. In fact, this is the period of time when humans were still to develop and progress to the usage of tools and materials and therefore, when you closely take a look at these structures, they clearly represent a prehistoric time that are characterised by such constructions in Europe, Asia and other continents.

Another view of the Bannerghatta Dolmens
Another view of the Bannerghatta Dolmens

Dolmens on these hills are scattered all over the place and are in various stages of degradation and therefore, can be seen broken or empty in many chambers. These stones actually support a large flat circular or capstone table. In different places, the flat capstone can be seen that are varied and complex depending on the availability of the stones in that area.

**Location map has not been added in this article since I chanced upon them while on another assignment. General entry to visitors is restricted in this area.

1 comment:

SareenaK said...

hi there!
i came across this post of yours while looking for natural rocks and stones in Bangalore and its surroundings. Im a visual artist doing some research in natural land and rock formations in and around the city for my work. Was wondering what is the access like to this place and do you know of any similar sites. Would love to hear more from you. please do email me if possible at