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Prehistoric and megalithic cairns vanish from Hyderabad's landscape

Hyderabad was once dotted by a large number of prehistoric and megalithic cairns that threw light on the living standards of our ancestors. A majority of them have simply disappeared under concrete encroachments in the last four decades. The loss has been more pronounced in the past 10 years with a number of buildings coming up on the cairns in violation of archaeological and heritage rules.

Prehistoric and megalithic cairns vanish from Hyderabad's landscape
Stones at the megalithic site in Mudumal village in Mahbubnagar district [Credit: EPS]
The official website of the archaeology department, however, boasts of several prehistoric and megalithic cairns or graves in at least half a dozen locations. But, in reality, many of them exist only in official records. A visitor to most of the listed sites is greeted either by standard signboards of the archaeology department or concrete encroachments.

The few surviving cairns, which are part of the cultural, historical and archaeological heritage of Hyderabad, now crave for attention as fresh encroachments threaten to obliterate them back into history. There were about 1,000 cairns in the city but only a few dozen remain now.

"A close observation of the material discovered in the cairns shows that the history of Hyderabad predates the Qutub Shahis and the Kakatiyas. Hyderabad is not just a four-century-old city. It has a history of more than 12,000 years if the megalithic burials are taken into consideration. However, the city's history goes back to more than 50,000 years if we take the prehistoric burial sites into account," says city historian Dr Mohammad Safiullah, regretting that the city had failed to protect most of these important sites for future generations.

INTACH Hyderabad convenor P Anuradha Reddy points out that there is no trace of the cairns at Mir Alam Tank. "I visited the area but could not locate them. The area containing cairns in Moula Ali was ironically denotified. We hardly see any cairns in Moula Ali today ," she adds. Even the ones at Hashmatpet cry for attention with encroachments coming up.

In fact, a recent discovery in one of the cairns from Lingampally site (University of Hyderabad campus) has forced historians to rewrite the history of Iron Age in India. The findings from Lingampally cairns pushed the period of Iron Age in India by at least a millennium.

According to records of Telangana state archaeology depart ment and the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), megalithic and prehistoric cairns are located at Mir Alam Tank, Begumpet, Hashmatpet, Moula Ali, Bowenpally, Lingampally, Kukatpally and Gurramguda.

There is also a neolithic site at Begumpet.City heritage activists demand that the archaeology officials should either remove the encroachments or stop claiming the cairns at these places as protected precincts. That encroachments have taken a toll on cairns is clear from the observations of Philip Meadows Taylor, who was in the service of the Nizam. In 1851, he referred to the existence of `some hundreds' of cairns near the hill of Moula Ali.

Author: Syed Akbar | Source: Time of India [July 22, 2017]

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