Feb 26, 2014

Prehistoric Stone Alignment of Vibhutihalli

The list of 'types of prehistoric artifacts' keeps growing.. rock paintings, pottery, stone implements, dolmen, petroglyphs, ash-mounds, stone circles and now, stone alignments. Prehistoric folks were really busy bodies; they have developed so many different forms of rock arts; not random drawings but art which had deep meaning. What ever they did had a purpose; what ever they made lasted ages; whatever they did was in tune with nature.

Long back, a time came when humans noticed a cycle in changing positions of Sun and stars. They realized the Sun position in sky was connected with seasonal changes. As years wen by, future generations discovered a way to predict seasonal changes for which it was very important to know their calendric position. They put their heads together, chose a suitable place with a good supply of boulders and created a huge rectangular array of boulders; an array measuring several hundred feet in length and width. This huge array or stone alignment told what part of the year it was and so megalithic men had created their calendar.

In Karnataka there are two such megalithic calendars- Vibhutihalli and Hanamasagar. Vibhutihalli is 4 kms south of Shahapur town in Yadgiri district. Hanamasagar is in Koppal district. While Vibutihalli's stone alignment is a protected site, I have no idea about the fate of Hanamasagar's stone alignment.

November 27, 2013
Locating the site was easy, as you drive from Shahapur to Shorapur, about 4 kms down the road on the right is a small group of hills and on the opposite side is a fenced tamarind plantation. Within that fenced plot is Vibuthihalli's prehistoric stone alignment. 

A frail old man is the care-taker appointed by ASI. However the plot is under Karnataka Forest Department and the tamarind trees belong to the department. Also within the site is a forest nursery.

care-taker rests on a boulder placed here several thousand years ago
An ASI signage near the gate welcomes visitors, its gives out ample information about the history of these stones.

A site made for the living
Vibhutihalli's rows of stones were used to track important annual events such as solstices and equinoxes. Though trees hamper the view today, try facing east at dawn on the day of an equinix, either March or September 21st. Rows of stones running east-west will point directly to where the sun rises. Look west at twilight during either equinox and you will see the sun setting exactly in the dip between the hillocks across the road. This means Vibhutihalli's alignment site was carefully chosen to allow viewing of this astronomical event.

You can also find positions from where you can look along the diagonal to see the summer solstice sunrise and sunset. Can you think of other important events that might have been predicted using the alignment.

When survival depended on prediction
Much planning, knowledge of astronomy and labour were needed to establish this site. But why was it important to keep track of calendric events? Many activities of megalithic societies were closely tied to the seasons, such as sowing, harvesting, hunting and moving to different pastures. People's well-being depended on being able to predict when seasons were going to change.

In India, such stone grids were found only in parts of North Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. Vibhutihalli's remarkable stone alignment is one of the largest and best preserved of these sites.

Taylor had spent a great deal of time studying this stone grid and related hillocks in the vicinity.
Meadows Taylor sketch of Vibhutihalli's stone grid
view: East to West
view: East to West
view: North to South
To know more about this prehistoric astronomical monument do read these two articles-
Stone alignment of Vibhutihalli
Calendar set in stone

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1 comment:

Manjula Umesh said...

Couple of months back saw a program in some Kannada news channel abt this place, but it was almost end of the program so cldnt know abt the exact place, now I remembered seeing the pics in this post, Thanks for sharing..