Edakkal caves, one of the prime tourist attractions in Wayanad, Kerala has unveiled some interesting findings that every Malayalee will cherish. In a study of the computer-enhanced photograph of Edakal-5 undertaken by M. V. Bhaskar, Project Coordinator, Central Institute of Classical Tamil (CICT) Photographic Survey, it has become clear that he language of the inscriptions in Edakal-5 is Malayalam. There are inscriptions of words like pazhama, which literally means ‘that which is ancient or old.’ In the earlier discoveries, Tamil Brahmi inscriptions and the early Vatteluttu script were found in some caves.
This landmark discovery of Malayalam inscriptions on Edakal-5 conclusively proves that the common people of Kerala were expressing themselves in Malayalam from as early as 4th century C.E. While Tamil was used more by the elite class as the literary idiom in which great works like Silappadikaram were composed, Malayalam was used as the common man’s language. It is interesting to note that Malayalam was used as the medium of communication for all purposes from as early as the Kollam Era (the early 9th century C.E.), which sheds light on the history and evolution of the language of Kerala.
However, it is disheartening to note that most of the tourists are ignorant about the legacy of these priceless inscriptions. Visitors often take pleasure in vandalizing these ancient inscriptions, which can annihilate these imprints forever. We in Karma Kerala had the opportunity to visit these historical caves during our corporate weekend trip to Wayand and we were spell bound by the finesse and the artistic brilliance of these etchings made thousands of years back!
If you have an interest for historic places and a passion for trekking, Edakkal caves is the right place for you to explore. Situated in Wayanad in northern Kerala, these caves are formed by two boulder sized rocks in the middle of Ambukutty mala mountain and is considered to be one of the earliest centre of human habitation. Edakkal literally means “a stone in between”. The two natural rock formations represents the world’s largest pictographic gallery of its kind.
Known for the prehistoric carving (petroglyps) all across, it belonged to the neolithic tribe and was not alone inhabitated by just one group, but was home to various tribes at different points of history. Discovered in 1890 during a hunting trip by the then superintendent of Police, Fred Fawcett in the Malabar district, it is carpeted with ancient stone scripts, pictorial wall inscriptions of human and animal figures and also cave drawings. One of the carvings also depicts a certain practice conducted by the tribes in those days. Similar cave drawings have only been found in Stiriya in the European Alps and a few other rocky places in Africa, which is considered to be 7000 years old.
Another distinct feature of the cave is that of the fresh water flowing through the creeks and forming a small pool inside the mountain, which add to charm to serenity. A walk to the cave is very tiring, but it is a perfect place for trekking although it is adventurous going through the slippery steep fields and worth trying.
Attracting historians and archaeologists from all over the country, it is a cradle for human civilization at different stages in the history. One of the famous monuments of the state, it answers to the many queries regarding our ancestors and their evolutions..
Scores of new wall engravings were unraveled on the cave walls when semi metal residues and grime of over 90 cm thickness were removed. Excavations around the cave have also unearthed some pieces of pottery and a dainty stone chisel apart from some Brahmi script engravings, which are being analyzed in detail to trace its age and relevance.
A fund of Rs.50 lakhs from the Heritage Preservation Fund was proposed by the 12th Finance Commission for the maintenance and renovation of these pre- historic caves.