Monday, August 24, 2015

The Hargarhis of Jharkhand: A Brief Study of the Megaliths of Jharkhand

My latest paper on the Megaliths of Jharkhand:

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


 I stand with Jitendra Tiwary at a Hargarhi of Katia Murwey. He is he discoverer of the site. The site though badly ruined is an ancient burial of the erstwhile tribes. Apart from it the site also displays stunning astronomical orientations.

Architecture of many megaliths vary from one region to another and many are startlingly similar; be it England, China or India. Many are being raised in the same manner since hoary antiquity.

Megaliths of Chatra or more specifically speaking megaliths of Pathalgadda are typical to the region. The name of the village Pathalgadda is a Hindi name for tribal megaliths. As when the Hindi speaking folks walked in the region after the tribals had begun to move away from here they must have had been surprised to find so many standing stones in and around the vicinity.

Menhirs in Angarha

They are in thousands...look any where...go any where; megaliths are everywhere. I have never seen a place quite like this...all this was conveyed to me by one young fellow in his late twenties, Jitendra Tewary. Jitendra who is a correspondent of a Hindi daily and who also owns a studio, has discovered many megaliths around the region. 

The area is ringed with some spectacular hills in the landscape as; Puraniya, Likhlahi, Dasi and Lamboiya et al.

The opposite facing tilted stones are inclined towards East and West

The megaliths are solely burial and memorial stones. These can be found jumbled up at single places suggestive of the fact that they were the respective "Jangarhas", "Hargarhis", or "Sasandiris" of the erstwhile adivasi villages for which these burials were once created in the deep past.

The distinctive feature of the megaliths here is  many of the sepulchral stones can be seen placed inclined towards the west and to its opposite, a little to the left would there be another stone tilted towards the west. Such stones are seen placed side by side creating a row with a North-South alignment (the orientation of the dead in India).

The sites have revealed iron and copper slags, Black pottery, Black and Red pottery, Red  pottery, and ochre pottery. Several of the sites can be dated back to the Chalcolithic period (refer to ) 

Most of the sites I saw were damaged by non tribal villagers scrounging for treasure from below the stones slabs, or the stones were towed away by them to serve as washing stones by the well or to function as drain covers.
Jitendra is trying to have the sites protected; a task more than impossible in a country like ours

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Megaliths of Jharkhand

To know more of megaliths in India and Jharkhand please visit my website:
Prior to getting acquainted with the megaliths of Jharkhand one needs to know more of the state Jharkhand its tribes, its tribal heritages

Jharkhand is a newly formed state carved out of its former territory of Bihar in Eastern India. She is spread over an area of 79,714 sq km with varied altitudes ranging from 1000 to 4000 feet.

The state is also renowned for the multiplicity of the colourful tribals who reside in this vibrant land. Its major festivals are Sarhul. Baha, Sohrai, Karma, Maghe parob, Tusu, Manda and many other Hindu festivals as Durga Puja, Diwali, Ram Navami etc. 
The major language here is Hindi but the other major languages are the tribal ones as Santhali, Mundari, Kurukh, Nagpuria, and a few non tribal ones like Bangla. English of course is understood and spoken by a few.
The state even holds many fairs such as that of Kunda, Kolhua, Chatra, Kundri, Lawalong etc.
The state is also sanctified with scores of both Mother and Father Mountains and hills known in Hindi as ‘pahari’ or ‘pahar’ respectively and in Austric as ‘Buru’.

The numerous sacred groves of the tribals which they call ‘SARNA’ have further enriched the spiritual side of this blessed state. Every Munda village houses megalithic burial lands known with names as Sasandiri , Harsali or Haragarhi . 

This mineral rich state is blessed with numerous sacred mother rivers known as ‘nai’ as Damoda (also known as Damodar), Subernarekha, Koel, Karo, Auranga, and Mohaniya apart from the countless others that brim up during the monsoon and flow like the timid doe.

The region is also gradually being known to the world for its enormous treasure house of megaliths of which I describe a few. Much more details of these sites are featured in my book: SACRED STONES IN INDIAN CIVILIZATION  and UNKNOWN CIVILZATION OF PREHISTORIC INDIA

Megaliths in Jharkhand can be primarily be divided in two segments : sepulchral and non-sepulchral. 
Every village particularly from Ranchi to down south of Jharkhand houses tribal burial grounds called hargarhis , harsalis or even Jangarhas. These hargarhis house sasandiris and birdiris. 

Sasandiris are burial dolmens in which there is a centrestone placed on four or more stones. These monuments house burial pots which consists bones and ashes of the dead after his/her cremation. Birdiris are memorial stones raised in honour of the dead or they could also be boundary stones.
Biridirs have also revealed pot burials. These burials rites conducted by dalits are called satbharwaan. Jharkhand has primarily pot burials many of which may also consist of conical iron implements called "singis". These singis also comprise of the deceased's ashes which is placed inside the pot and buried in the earth. A menhir is raised thereafter.

CHAIBASA: This is the region of the austric Ho tribals; it is a magical place so far as megaliths are concerned. Each village hut houses sepulchral slabs known to them as sasandiri. Under these are the remains of  their dead ancestors.

I gaze at some tall menhirs in a village in Chaibasa

A solitary menhir in the outskirts of Chaibasa

HAZARIBAGH: Hazaribagh megaliths are the most fascinating megalithic monuments I have seen so far in the country, the diversity of their architecture is stunning and profound research has revealed that they could be more older than their brethrens in Jharkhand. I mention a few of them as under:

Daria from England visits the Banadag dolmen along with my son Prantik


The fascinating megalithic site of Birbir.

A human shaped burial cover

BANADAG: I had discovered the megaliths of Banadag  way back in 2002 . One day I discovered faint traces of a U- shaped henge over which the menhirs and a stone circle. The site may not be that old but t the henge may push back the site into more into deep antiquity.

Neils Gregor from Germany visits the megaliths at Banadag

The Stone Circle of Banadag is the only megalithic circle I had discovered so far in Jharkhand. At the Northern side of tyhe sacred Mother Hill of Banadag there is Lizard/turtle shaped hybrid dolmen.

PUNKRI BURWADIH: I began to research on this site more than ten years ago. Evetually my research revealed to me that this megalithic complex like its counterparts in Europe and South India was built for astronomical reasons. I found that each and every stone here was positioned in accordance to mathematical perfection.

Antony Roper Crerar the noted archaeoastronoemr from Wales pays a visit to Punkree Burwadih. Pic shows Tony and I stand in front the menhirs in the Punkree Burwadih megalithic complex.
Cameras flash as the sun rises on the due east through the slot of the menhirs of Punkree Burwadih on Equinox mornings.

Punkri Burwadih. The complex apart from being a sepulchral site is an astronomical observatory

One of the menhirs of Punkri Burwadih fell down. I undertook the erection of the menhir with the assistance of the district administration.

We tug the heavy menhir to place it exactly at the spot where it originally was.

...and finally has been erected; its floor cemented. Logs put to enable the  ancient monument stands till the base gets firm.

My research confirmed me that this complex apart from being a burial was raised for astronomical purposes. Now I have ample evidence that Punkree Burwadih was the creation of an erudite lot in the deep past built to perform as a primitive calendar and as an observatory of the transits of the sun.
Today Punkree Burwadih is the only place in the country where people gather to view the Equinox sunrises through its menhirs. One can view even the Summer Solstice sunrise in this site. Antony Crerar the eminent megalithic archeoastronomer from wales had even disclverd orientations of the Solsctice of the moon.

The Chano astronomical megalithic complex

Bhainpur is a simple sasandiri burial site of the Mundas . 

Gokhal. With my co-workers, Alok and Jai


 Itkhori is a Jaina, Budhist and a Hindu site. That it once had a tribal megalith is not known to many. This photograph with my son taken in late 90s shows part of the ruined Stone Circle or a Longship. This is long since gone.

An Oraon sasandiri in Banjha. Banjha has a very large hargarhi.

A relatively new Santali cairn. Santali burial in cairn forms will comprise of two tone stones.

Birdiri menhirs in Kothar

The megalithic site of Purni Mandar is enormous. Here I stand next to two large Birdiris. The menhir to the left is the prime deity here and pahan is a Ganju and the monument is worshipped by Bhuiyans. The Bhuiyans of the region believes the megalith to be over 3000 years old.

A modern day Oraon type Mundari sasandiri megalith in Purni Mandar. A unique thing about this monument that it also is a Hero Stone. The  centrestone of the dolmen in front to the menhir features the engraving of the hero on a  horseback.

Katia Murwey. The site is still taken to be a hargarhi by he local non tribal Hindu peasants. The complex badly damaged seems to be a satbharwaan burial site. The site also discloses stunning astronomy and could be pretty old.

Lean-Support birdiri menhirs in Rahriya Tand.  The architectural style of the birdiris suggest that the monuments could be of Santali Orgin and could really be very old dating back to 1000 to 800 BC..

Huhua.  The menhirs are unusual and seem Hinduised with their amlakas. The megaliths disclose stunning alignments towards the cardinal points but doesn't seem to be much old.

Fascinating Stone Circle of Bayen. The hargarhi can be seen is on a raised land. A dig of the site must yield interesting grave goods. The site is  oriented towards the Summer Solstice sunrise.

A significant Hargarhi megalith in Hesalong. The design of the site suggests its antiquity.

The Aragora hargarhi houses numerous sasandiris and birdiris.

The tall birdiri menhir of Bariath

Birdiri of Dundua

Hargarhi of Rohmar

Stone Oblong (Circle). Ranchi. credit: HImanshu Sekhar.

A burial pot revealed from a megalith in Lutidih. Credit: The Telegraph.

An iron singi extracted from below the fallen menhir of Punkri Burwadih.

Black and Red, Applique, Incised and Black Pottery collected in-situ from various megalithic sites

CHOKAHATU: I learnt of Chokahatu by reading in "Journal of Asiatic Society of Bengal" of 1872 and even reading in S.C. Roy's "Mundas and their Country". I tried to learn from the State Archaeological Dept, who as expected had not heard of Chokahatu.

One side of the thousands of the sepulchral slabs of Chokahatu
 I went there all alone to find true to Dalton's words this was undoubtedly a huge site of over 8 acres of land having over 8000 sepulchral slabs. A site still being used for over than 2000 years, Chokahatu is an ingredient of an ingredient for World heritage Status.
For more pics and and  write up on Chokahatu visit: 

There are many more sites in Jharkhand which will be feartured in my forthcoming book, "THE UNKNOWN PREHISTORY OF INDIA"
The non Aryan tribals are the original inhabitants of India . Therefore megaliths can be seen every where from Kashmir to kerela . I always believe from my research that they are the truest archaeological relic of a country. But these monuments have been shunned both by scholars .


Megaliths are not known to the people at large, my innermost desire is bring them closer to the masses so that these amazing monuments, the true source of India's prehistory and their unknown makers get the much deserving respect they demand.
The pics below demonstrate our various attempts to bring megaliths one of the greates and the most significant heritage of prehistoric India closer to the common people. 

A workshop in the village of Punkree Burwadih to make aware the villagers of megaliths
Inauguration of a plaque setup by the villagers highlighting the Punkree Burwadih megaliths

Addressing another seminar on megaliths in TISCO

Talking of megaliths at one seminar

Presentation on Jharkhand and Indian megaliths at the International Seminar at VB University

Speaking on my research on the megaliths of Jharkhand and India as the only India invited at the WORLD CONFERENCE ON PREHISTORY in Burgos Spain.

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC shoots at the Punkri Burwadih Megaliths

Explaining the funtioning of he PUNKRI BURWADIH megaliths in the shoot of NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

Shooting documentaries on megaliths

Explaining significance of megaliths to villagers