The town of Amudalavalasa is located in the northernmost district of the state of Andhra Pradesh – Srikakulam. This is a region rich in history. There are several sites dating back to every conceivable period of the Telugu past. The site of Dannanapeta is one example. It is located near the Government Polytechnic building of Dannanapeta. Unfortunately, the Government itself, along with a few land sharks and politicians seems to have played a crucial role in its destruction.
There were seven megalithic structures in the area. Only one is said to have survived the greed, callousness and ignorance of the authorities. The rest of the world thinks that Indians are a very spiritual people but there are several examples to the contrary. The pillaging of this site counts among one of those instances. Here is how ‘The Hindu’ newspaper reported the sorry affair in its article, ‘Erasing History in the Name of Development’ (by the Special Correspondent, dated June 21, 2014):
A number of important prehistoric sites dating back to the megalithic period are being cleared to make way for “development” of buildings without realising the damage being done to history, amateur archaeologist N. Aditya Madhav has said. Putting up an exhibition of photographs of megalithic sites in Srikakulam district — Dannanapeta, Chittivalasa, Sailada Hills, Sangamayya Konda, and Dantapuram, he explained how the megalithic dolmens and menhirs are being crushed for producing gravel for the concrete used in the construction activity.
Pictures from 2003 show the dolmen at Dannanapeta, one of the biggest in the world, standing majestically on the ground. In 2013, construction of Government Polytechnic began at Dannanapeta and by 2014 the dolmen is eclipsed by the new building. “Some of the stones assembled there by our ancestors have been crushed for the concrete used in the building,” the Hyderabad-based techie has said.
Though officials of the Department of Archaeology have responded positively to the information, procedural delay and lack of manpower are hindering the process of protecting the structures, he says. INTACH member Rani Sarma has written to the district authorities, he says. “Unfortunately, most academic studies on prehistoric sites in the State have not recorded any evidence of such sites in North Andhra Pradesh,” professor of anthropology in Andhra University Satyapaul told the assembled youth on Friday. A team of youth visited the sites in Srikakulam district on Sunday last to photograph and document the ground reality.
The site is believed to date back to 1000 BCE or even earlier. It was established by the people of the Southern Neolithic Complex (who gave birth to the Dravidian civilization of Southern India). Later on, Dannanapeta would become a refuge for Buddhist and Jain monks. It’s a crying shame that such an important historical site has only one megalithic structure (a dolmen with a gigantic capstone, 36 feet by 14 feet in size, held up by supporting rocks) left standing. The rest, it seems were demolished and crushed for use as raw material to construct nearby buildings.
Image Attribution: The image above, sourced from Wikimedia Commons, is a photograph of the Dannanapeta Dolmen. It was uploaded by N. Aditya Madhav.
- ‘Erasing History in the Name of Development’ (by the Special Correspondent, dated June 21, 2014), The Hindu
- ‘Demolition of Dolmens continues unfettered in Dannanapeta’ (by TNN, dated July 18, 2014), Times of India