A 4000 ft. trek up the mountain leads us to one of nature's very own masterpieces, the Edakkal Caves. Archaeologists and historians alike have been enthralled and confused by what they have seen here for a long time. Situated around 16 km from Sulthan Bathery, one has to trek up Ambukuthi Hills to reach these caves. It is a 45 minute climb with a beautiful view and fresh breeze the entire way.
The name literally translates to 'a stone in between'. You understand this when you visit, as it appears that one great boulder, wedged between two bigger stones, formed a cave. Scientists also believe this is not a 'cave' in the conventional sense of the word. It is a fissure in the rocks that occurred due to natural calamities and climate change. The split in the rock is 22 ft. in width and 96 ft. in length. The depth of the cleft is over 30 ft. and there is a large rock forming a roof over it. This is what gives it the appearance of a cave.
There are many myths regarding the gigantic fissure. It is said that Lord Rama (an avatar of the Hindu God, Vishnu) himself shot an arrow at the mountain that left a deep cleft there. The hills themselves are named keeping in the mind the legend associated with the place (Ambu means arrow and kuthi means pierce in Malayalam). Locals consider the caves sacred and many idols can be seen around the place.
The caveswere discovered in 1895 by Fred Fawcett, Superintendent of Police of the Malabar district. He was on a hunting trip to Wayanad when he noticed a stone axe belonging to the Neolithic Celt at the coffee estate. Fred had an actual interest in the era and decided to investigate the place more. He made enquiries with the locals and went past the Ambukuthi mala to find the caves. He found the caves which people speculated were among the earliest human settlements ever found. It was said that people dwelled here during the New Stone Age and this drew in archaeologists and historians from across the planet.
The etchings and prehistoric line drawings and the nature of the cave walls show that people dwelled here during various time periods in history. Three distinct sets of petro glyphs can be seen in the caves and some depictions are almost 7000 years old. It is the only place withStone Age carvings in South India. The carvings belonging to Neolithic and Mesolithic Age include ancient stone scripts, ancient weapons, symbols, animal figures and human beings. The rock surface is filled with motifs and one can see figures, crosses, triangles, tridents, various animals and human figures. Many of the human figures have raised hair; some have masked faces and have raised the intrigue of archaeologists for years. Images of a King, Queen, deer, elephant and tools that were used by earlier human beings are depicted. Recent research has placed origins of the cave to the Indus Valley Civilisation.
Iron railings have been placed to ensure that no harm comes to the carvings. A telescope is placed near the caves for a panoramic view of the surrounding country. A remote ticket office is situated at the top of the mountain from where tickets can be purchased for entrance to the caves. These caves are imperative to experience history and nature at its finest and most mysterious.