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Memorial Stones

The erection of memorials to the dead is an ancient and worldwide phenomenon. The memorials took different forms in different countries and times. In Tamil Nadu, the act of erecting memorials gets its firm foot in the megalithic culture. The gradual transformation of the megalithic cult into the hero cult is reflected in the Sangam literature. The rituals for erecting hero-stones ( Nadukal ) are also mentioned in Tamil grammatical works. Specimens of the hero-stones are available only from 6th century CE onwards.

Memorial for a cock, 6th Century CE Indalur, 
Vilupuram  Dist


Tamil Nadu State Archaeology Department has discovered many hero-stones, with and without inscriptions, in recent decades. The salient features of these findings have been discussed in its publication, Seminar on Herostones  (1974). This department also documented all new discoveries in northern districts of Tamil Nadu in the book on Chengam  Nadukarkal  (1975) and Dharmapuri  Kalvettukal  (1975).


Memorial for a hero and his dog, 624 CE, 
Eduttanur, Tiruvannamalai Dist

Memorial stones were erected to the heroes who died for the common cause of their village, country and king. We find memorials of the heroes who offered their head to the Goddess Durga for the fulfillment of a common cause.

There are memorials even for the dog, which assisted the hero, in the retrieval of the lifted cattle, and the cock, representing a village, in the cock fight.

Dolmen Type Memorial, Semmanur, 
Dharmapuri Dist


Memorial for a hero who lost his life 
in a cattle ride, 
6th Century CE Tiruvannamalai Dist

Memorial for a hero who offered his head to Goddess, Pasalai, Vilupuram Dist

Figure stone in a Dolmen Type Memorial, Semmanur, Dharmapuri Dist

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