India may have its own version of Stonehenge, England's prehistoric monument with astronomical associations, in Karnataka.
Researchers from the Mumbai-based Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) and Manipal University have discovered 26 megalithic constructions at Byse, 140 km from Mangalore, which were probably used as an astronomical observatory.
Using computer simulations, the team found that the standing stones are aligned to the north, east, south and west directions and also match the two solstices and equinoxes. While the two solstices mark the longest and shortest days of the year, an equinox occurs when the sun is in the same plane as the earth's equator.
“The megaliths may have helped inhabitants know the various seasons; helping them carry out agriculture and other trade,” said Mayank Vahia, astrophysicist, TIFR. “The study establishes that India had a strong intellectual tradition of precise astronomical observation not copied from any other civilisation.”
The study ‘Stone alignment with solar and other sightlines in South India’ is published in the latest issue of Current Science, published by Bangalore’s Indian Academy of Sciences.