You might have seen traces of prehistoric times in museum or in history books. But imagine a place where you can walk amid the remnants of these bygone times, where you can feel the sighs of a long-gone civilization, where you can touch the oddments of those departed times. Come to Marayoor, a small piece of land in Kerala 42 kilometers north of Munnar, where you can relive the nuances of a distant past.
The etymology of the name Marayoor itself takes us back to two millennia. One of the most accepted observations is that the name owes its origin to Maravars, a tribal community who lived here during the turn of Christian era. ‘Ooru’ means village. So Marayoor is the village of Maravars. Maravars were the traditional members of the army of tribal chiefs, and the Maharajas of Chera, Chola and Pandya.
Marayoor has a history that dates back to the Stone Age civilization that is as old as 10,000 B.C.E. At Marayoor you are welcomed by the silent tombs of primeval times - the dolmens. The dolmenoids (burial chambers made of huge stones), also known as muniyaras, belong to the Iron Age. There are a dozen numbers of such dolmens near the old Thenkasinathan Temple on the banks of the River Pambar at Marayoor. Several Stone Age dolmens can also be found on the left side of River Pambar.
Ancient rock paintings are another feature that adds to the rich heritage of Marayoor. Attala, Ezhuthu Guha, Kovilkadavu and Manala in Marayoor panchayath are some of the places where one can find these abstract art works of ancient times. More than 90 painted motifs can be seen in Attala where these paintings are situated in a colossal east facing rock shelter some 1,500 meters above mean sea level.
Marayoor is also known for a natural sandalwood forest here. So attractive and useful are these forests that even the memories carry a sweet fragrance. Sandalwood oil, popularly called as “liquid gold,” has always been a fascination for tourists from across the globe. Sandalwood sculptures, though expensive, are also a popular souvenir item of Kerala. Sandalwood has several medicinal properties and is used as a remedy for skin problems, digestive complications, nausea and gastritis.