Ancient caves always fascinate me. Last October we went to visit Edakkal Caves in Kerala. They’re very different from the caves we have ever been to. Most caves we visited during the past several years are Buddhist cutout rock caves with elaborate crafting details. Edakkal Caves are unique; they are raw and filled with prehistoric charm.
Edakkal Caves (11°37?28.81?N 76°14?8.88?ECoordinates: 11°37?28.81?N 76°14?8.88?E) are two natural caves at a remote location at Edakkal, 25 km from Kalpetta in the Wayanad district of Kerala in India‘s Western Ghats. They lie 1,200 metres above sea level on Ambukutty Mala, beside an ancient trade route connecting the high mountains of Mysore to the ports of the Malabar coast. Inside the caves are pictorial writings believed to date to at least 5000 BC, from the Neolithic man, indicating the presence of a prehistoric civilization or settlement in this region. The Stone Age carvings of Edakkal are rare and are the only known examples from south India.
Edakkal Caves were discovered by Fred Fawcett, a police officer of the Malarbar District, and he believed that the cravings were the handiwork of Kurumbars, a tribal people of the Wayanad.
To be honest, they are not much of the caves. Edakkal Caves are rather a cleft of rock. There are two chambers inside, on below the other. The engravings are of symbols, signs, trees, the drawing of wheels, carts, human and animal figures, etc.
They aren’t elaborate, suggesting them being carved by prehistory society. The caves contain drawings that range over periods from as early as 5000 BC to 1000 BC. Evidences suggest that the Edakkal Caves were inhabited several times at different points in history.
Oh my God, I have never been in a rush in my life to see these caves. We arrived at the base of the mountain where the caves are located late and found out that we only had 15 minutes before the entry was going to be closed. We raced on the steep walkway in a hurry. And boy, you know our legs were shaking and aching every step of the way.
There are a lot to climb and many narrow stairways up to the caves. From the parking area, it would take roughly 15 minutes (if you run like us) to 30 minutes on foot. And oh, the hike up to the caves are very enjoyable, too. There are coffee plantations and nice views along the sides.
Edakkal Caves are the protected monuments. There is a minimal entry fee at the gate. I was a little surprised to see huge crowds towards these caves. They attracted many visitors on the weekend so prepare yourself to be able to fumble your way up in the crowds. We were absolutely careful while climbing up because several stairways are placed the scary free falling angles. If you’re with children, make sure you have them in your hands.
The caves are worth dragging ourselves up there. It is magnificent, the engraving are stunning. Though most of the symbols aren’t deciphered, but they are very beautiful. Oh how much I wanted to find out what they meant, but soon later, the security guard blew the whistler and we had to leave the caves immediately.
I wish we had more time to explore the caves, but the experience was really fun. If you are in the Malabar Coast, you have to come visit these caves. It’s magical, making you feel like losing yourself in time.