Cut across the Munnar hills (fondly called Kashmir of the South) and, enjoying the enchanting beauty of the plantations, take a two hour drive on the Udumalpet Road - and
you are there: the mystical land of Marayoor.The land of hemitages and caves. The eternal monuments to Our ancient civilization and history. The favourite hunting ground of historians and tourists. The dreamland of Idukki District.
Protected by huge bouldars, these hermitages are mute witnesses to the evolution of history at Kanthallur and Muttukad as well. These historical relics are located on the banks of Pamba and Periyar rivers and also near Anayirangal.
Several of these hermitages can be seen near the Marayoor High School, Adampetty and Paes Nagar. Close at hand are the Marayoor caves with their stone inscriptions which have been a constant attraction to historians and researchers.
Driving through Devikulam on NH 49 for about 14 km, you reach the village of Muttukad on the 4 slopes of Chokramudi hills. From Muttukad, by nego- d tiating the sky-kissing gap, you arrive at Chinnakanal Panchayat, and the sight of the cluster of hermitages that suddenly loom ahead near the Venad hills is certain to stop you in your tracks There are twenty hermitages of different shapes and sizes here. The long cave nearby, where many historical mysteries lurk, is also a favourite tourist attraction. Near the gap is another cave where, once upon a time, the Mountain Band it is said to have lived. · · ·
The Souvenir of the Vazhathoppu St. Forana Church records that there existed several hermitages near the shrine. Relics of such hermitages are also found on the hills near the Forest Department Building Complex near Vellapara.
According to historians, the granite caves and hermitages seen throughout Kerala were once funeral grounds. Dr. Rajan Kurikkal, noted historian and professor at the M.G.
University, has observed that relics likekudakkallu (hoodstone) and thoppikkallu (hatsone) are historical remains of the Great Stone Age.
Earthen pots, iron implements, vessels, mud-plates, iron tridents, nails, fishing hooks and brass and bronze artifacts, said to be part of the megalithic remains of the Iron Age, have also been found in these hermitages.
Unfortunately, due to lack of adequate conservation measures, these relics of our ancient culture are left to languish and die. They frequently fall victim to the mindless greed of granite miners.