The prehistoric site of Konnur was on my list of items for a few years. My efforts to locate it on Google Maps went in vain. The only way to locate it was to inquire with at Konnur. Quite often remotely situated prehistoric monuments are lost mainly due to human interference. So I wasn't sure if I'll be able to locate it all.
September 23, 2022
We arrived at Konnur around 2 PM. There were two items to see here- 1. a Chalukyan temple named Chikaleshwara Gudi and 2. Prehistoric megalithic tombs. We drove through the narrow streets of Konnur asking directions to the temple and parked our car at a junction. As we were inquiring about the temple, a shopkeeper noticed the temple caretaker and hailed him. The caretaker was friendly, he and his son lead me to Chikaleshwara Gudi. After a quick tour of the temple I inquired about the dolmen. Apparently the megalithic tombs are called as Munivasada Guhegalu (caves used by ascetics) or Shantisagar Gufa. The caretaker, Shankar Jiddimani, appointed his son Shivu to take us to the site. The site is situated a couple kilometers from the village. Shivu was familiar with the locale and we reached the site in a few minutes. The site is protected with a fencing wall around it, and has just one entry point. The caretaker of this site, Ravi welcomed us with a respectful smile. The site is L-shaped, the megalithic tombs are situated at the far end, rest of the area is just open ground with a few trees. Within this enclosure are tombs of Jain Munis as well. The little stone shelter in front of the five mantapas is one of the tombs.
I was so happy to be here, looking at another group of megalithic tombs. These are as rough as they can get, like the ones at Aihole, Rajan Kollur, Kutkankeri, and other remote locations. This rough little structure, despite its primitive form, has an artistic look. The sloping faces of the side slabs defines its stylish looks. The inside is dim, the floor is dirt. According to Ravi, the inside is a pit filled with dirt washed in by rainwater. The rocks buried around the tomb may not be there naturally, they have been fixed in a circle around the tomb. This is the first time I'm seeing a stone circle around a megalithic tomb although it is a feature of prehistoric tombs. Lets call this tomb #1.
Moving on to another tomb, let us call this tomb #2. Compared to tomb #1, tomb #2 slightly bigger. There are other differences as well. Their orientation; tomb one facing east and this tomb below is facing south. Also this tomb vertically fixed slab in the front. I think originally it was a pair of vertical slabs, now one of them is missing. Then there is a U-shaped extension to its right. Ravi said that during the recent rains, flowing rainwater deposited dirt in the tomb's chamber. Else we would've seen a square pit inside.
Next to the western edge of the enclosure is this particular tomb. The slabs are granite, also it is larger and construction is slightly different.
Konnur megalithic site details are available in ASI Dharwad Circle website. I'm quoting the description as it is: At Konnur, near the Gokak Falls, are extensive group of dolmens scattered in the fields. Like those of Aihole over the hill, these have also been enclosed with slabs but unlike them, they all face the south. The sherds of pottery and ash have been found. An interesting architectural element is, in front of their southern entrances, are set up two flat slabs on edge leaving a narrow lane of approach between them. The cells vary in size, but average about four feet square inside, and are proportionately high. Locally these tombs are called as Pandava houses while the Jaina call them as Munivasada Guhegalu.
This particular tomb is the largest of all in this enclosure. However it has been modified in the process of reconditioning it. The slabs forming the lane seem to be in original positions. The chamber inside(see inset) is much larger compared to the previous tomb. An adult of average height could easily step into the pit and sit comfortably.
We had seen all the tombs in the enclosure. Ravi mentioned about a few more tombs behind a farmhouse opposite the enclosure entrance. The farmhouse and the adjoining farmland were owned by a Gowda, a village headman. Ravi said its okay to take a look. There were three tombs of which one was large and in good condition. In fact this is the largest seen here. The parallel slabs are akin to outstretched arms, as though the tomb is beckoning those looking at it. This tomb was 4 to 5 feet tall. A person of average height could easily pass through the doorway. Despite the crudeness of the structure, its has a certain quality, sturdy, stable and unshakable.
Fifteen-twenty feet away is another tomb, approximately the same size. This is where it flashed to me that all tombs were facing south except tomb #1.
That's the farmhouse and my guides- Ravi and Shivu. Ravi is pointing towards the sugarcane plantation on the other side of this house where there are a few more tombs, rather ruins of tombs.
This plot was recently tilled by a tractor, walking through this uneven land requires twice the effort. Like I said before these are ruins of what were beautiful structures. There's little doubt that human hands were behind the mutilation. Probably a few years later the ruins would go missing.
Within the same tilled plot is another set of three tombs, again all have been disturbed, several parts of the tombs are missing.
Of the three, this is the best preserved one. If we assume this as the original form, then this design is different compared to other tombs here.
Basu and I with the last tomb of the day. When I lifted Basu, I hardly felt this mass, feather light guy.