Excavated stone circle for representational purpose. (Dr HD Sankalia)
Excavated stone circle for representational purpose. (Dr HD Sankalia)

Sutradhara’s tales: “Stonehenges” of Pune and Megalithic Man

There are numerous such architectural marvels scattered across the earth which leave you wondering about who might have created them and how! In absence of modern technology, it is almost impossible to believe that they might be product of human endeavour.
By Saili Palande-Datar, Pune
UPDATED ON FEB 03, 2021 04:35 PM IST

So, do you think aliens ever landed earth? Were the gigantic pyramids, the mysterious crop circles, Inca civilisation, the giant statues of Ester and formidable looking Stonehenge of England created by them?

There are numerous such architectural marvels scattered across the earth which leave you wondering about who might have created them and how! In absence of modern technology, it is almost impossible to believe that they might be product of human endeavour. And yet, as we dig deeper (literally) with archaeologists’ help, we can find some clues to reveal the astonishing answers to our mystical pasts.

Stonehenge in England is one such fascinating monument comprising 13 giant stones (13 ft high, 7 ft wide) standing in a circle, essentially, representing the burial grounds from Neolithic and Bronze ages of civilisation. All that is indeed wonderful, but what does it has to do with our Pune story?

Did you know what Pune and Stonehenge mega stone circle burial grounds at England have in common? Proto historic Pune folks were not very behind in raising giant projects and have left marks of similar Stonehenge of Pune in the suburb of Bhosari.

When British authors of Gazetteer of Bombay presidency wrote about history of Pune in 1885, they were unaware of enigmatic humans as well as their remains in the vicinity of Pune. But, as we have seen in past articles, the scholars of Deccan College, including Dr Hasmukh Dhirajlal Sankalia, were not a passive lot and proactively hunted in the environs of Pune for clues to past inhabitants.

As the local memory serves, Bhosari is an old settlement known as Bhojpur and had a fortification enclosure called “Kot”. In the old village, the medieval remains were scattered in the forms of Mahadev shrine, Khandoba temple with enclosure, and shrine of folk gods such as Chedoba, Munjaba, Babpuji Buwa along with some herostones. Amongst these medieval remains, Dr Sankalia and his team in 1939 found traces of stone structures which went back many centuries ago.

In proto-historic period, one comes across the structures made of colossal undressed stones, either arranged in a circle called “stone circle”, or an erect, roughly tall triangular flat slab called “Menhirs” standing out prominently. Sometimes, the large three or four stones are arranged at right angles and covered with capping stone called a “Dolmen”. None of these stones show any chisel marks or have cementing material and one wonders how they were moved to particular place and installed in particular manner. These structures mark the proto-historic burial grounds of humans who were aptly referred to as “Megalithic” (of Big Stones).

Till recently, not many habitation sites of these humans have been reported by archaeologists and such prominent burial grounds have been largely reported from Vidarbha region and southern Deccan. So, finding evidence of Megalithic man near Pune was indeed a significant discovery.

Based on the black and red pottery found in excavation of such burial grounds, archaeologists have dated these cultures to Iron Age of India dating roughly to 1000 BCE. The Vidarbha region excavations such as Mahurjhari have reported good amount of iron tools, jewellery, and the remains of humans and horse buried commemorating the dead. This elaborate burial practices indicate that the Megalithic man believed in life after dead and hence, packed goods and vehicle for the journey of departed souls.

At Bhosari, three “Menhirs” of height 4’8” ft, 8’8”ft and two 6’4” were seen near Bapuji Buwa shrine, Chavadi area and Bhairoba shrine, respectively. Two stone circles were reported from Kot area and Kanhoba shrine. Numbers of “Dolmens” were reported in the form of the enclosure of Chedoba and Mhasoba shrine where present day communities have established shrines by placing aniconic symbols. Unfortunately, no burial remains or significant pottery has been reported.

Overall, the entire area seemed to be proto-historic burial ground and the tradition of burial continued till the time of investigation as Mahar community was seen practicing burials. But, Mahars did not erect the huge stones to mark the site as seen above.

It is thus interesting to see that in the time when most Hindu communities practice cremation, it is unusual to find burial grounds except for certain communities such as Mahars, Jangam, etc. It was also fascinating to note that many nomadic communities such as Lamani and Dhangars visit these shrines annually and offer worship. This practice may signify some important ties between Megalithic humans and present nomads. Of course, erosion of tradition and loss of the material evidence on ground has made it difficult for us to trace the continuity of such practices. Some communities in modern period also followed the custom blindly and had erected a “modern dolmen-like” structure to carry the resemblance with Megalithic structures forward without knowing their true nature.

Dr MK Dhavalikar has known to excavate a stone circle yielding Chalcolithic potsherds at Pimpalsuti in Shirur, Pune marking another Megalithic site.

Similarly, due to resemblance in form, Dr DD Kosambi had indicated that the Vetal of Vetal hill in midst of Pune city may be originally a stone circle belonging to the same period. He claimed that Mhatoba and Vetal lie on tracks which yield microliths and were frequented by nomadic communities too and served as pre-historic cult sites. Thus, he also suggested that the place might have served as ancient necropolis or burial ground. He had reported some interesting rock engravings at Vetal hill as Megalithic engraving which were later examined by Deccan college archaeologist and geologists to reveal that majority of them are result of natural erosions. Some which may be made by man could not be dated for lack of context. And yet, it is intriguing to note that Dhangars do pass though this area and venerate the Mhatoba and stone circle like formations as Vetal, even today!

Today, the growing suburb of Bhosari has engulfed most of these remains, including the stone circles and few obscurely survive hidden in narrow lanes. The big stone circle was lost to expansion of Pune-Nasik highway. But thanks to efforts of Dr Sankalia and the communities who still keep the place alive through their veneration, we can witness the fascinating human endeavours of Megalithic Man of Pune!

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close
Covid-19 vaccination drive at Premlok Park Hospital, Chinchwad, in Pune earlier in February. (HT file)
Covid-19 vaccination drive at Premlok Park Hospital, Chinchwad, in Pune earlier in February. (HT file)

Pune’s Covid tally again on the rise, curbs extended

By Steffy Thevar
PUBLISHED ON MAR 01, 2021 03:24 PM IST
The new hot spots are being monitored with more testing among super spreaders and also aggressive contact tracing
Close
Police take action against violators at Mukundnagar in Pune. (HT_PRINT)
Police take action against violators at Mukundnagar in Pune. (HT_PRINT)

Pune extends curbs till March 14 to contain Covid-19

PUBLISHED ON MAR 01, 2021 06:18 AM IST
Pune district has recorded an average of 1,600 cases in the last five days, prompting authorities to shut all schools, colleges and private coaching classes and restrict the movement of people between 11pm to 6 am till March 14.
Close
HT Image
HT Image

City has 20.38 TMC water stock until monsoon

By Jigar Hindocha, Pune
PUBLISHED ON FEB 28, 2021 11:41 PM IST
The water stock in four dams Khadakwasla, Temghar, Varasgaon and Temghar is currently standing at 20
Close
HT Image
HT Image

PMC receives objections to road widening from old city areas

By Siddharth Gadkari, Pune
PUBLISHED ON FEB 28, 2021 11:40 PM IST
The Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has registered maximum objections from the old city areas on the proposed widening of city roads from six to nine metres
Close
HT Image
HT Image

Mentally challenged woman pushed to death by juvenile in Kothrud

By Nadeem Inamdar, Pune
PUBLISHED ON FEB 28, 2021 11:40 PM IST
The Kothrud police have booked a 14-year-old juvenile in conflict with the law for the murder of a 33-year-old inmate inside the campus of an institute for the mentally challenged
Close
HT Image
HT Image

Three arrested in case involving leak of army recruitment paper

By Nadeem Inamdar, Pune
PUBLISHED ON FEB 28, 2021 11:40 PM IST
The Military Intelligence (MI) unit of the Indian Army and Pune police Crime Branch Unit IV in a joint operation arrested three persons in case involving the leak of army recruitment exam paper at the Bombay Engineer Group and Centre (BEG&C), Khadki on Sunday
Close
HT Image
HT Image

Army cancels all-India common entrance test for soldiers after paper-leak incident

By Nadeem Inamdar, Pune
PUBLISHED ON FEB 28, 2021 11:40 PM IST
The Indian Army has cancelled pan India common entrance exam (general duty test) for soldiers in the wake of the detection of a paper-leak related to the exam which was to be held on Sunday
Close
HT Image
HT Image

NCL scholar’s murder: Needle of suspicion points police to friend who met Pandit on dating app

By Nadeem Inamdar, Pune
PUBLISHED ON FEB 28, 2021 09:17 PM IST
The investigation into the brutal murder of Sudarshan alias Balya Baburao Pandit, a 30-year-old PhD student at the National Chemical Laboratory (NCL), Pashan is pointing a needle of suspicion towards a friend of his with whom he met over a dating app
Close
A healthcare worker collects a swab sample of a woman to test for Covid-19 infection, in Bhiwandi. (HT FILE)
A healthcare worker collects a swab sample of a woman to test for Covid-19 infection, in Bhiwandi. (HT FILE)

Pune schools, colleges to remain shut till March 14 amid soaring Covid-19 cases

By hindustantimes.com | Written by Kanishka Sarkar, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON FEB 28, 2021 02:41 PM IST
The announcement comes a day after the lockdown in Maharashtra’s Amravati district was extended for another week till March 8.
Close
HT Image
HT Image

NCL research fellow’s body found, throat slit in Pune

By Yogesh Joshi and Nadeem Inamdar, Pune
PUBLISHED ON FEB 28, 2021 12:06 AM IST
The police have recovered body of a research fellow at the National Chemical Laboratory (NCL) located at Pashan in Pune
Close
HT Image
HT Image

Large blaze destroys vehicles seized by Deccan police station

By Nadeem Inamdar, Pune
PUBLISHED ON FEB 28, 2021 12:01 AM IST
As many as five two-wheelers seized by the local police during various operations and kept in the compound of the Deccan traffic division at Jangli Maharaj (JM) road were gutted in a major fire incident that took place on Saturday afternoon
Close
HT Image
HT Image

Despite Bhama Askhed completion, tankers in full swing in eastern Pune

By Abhay Khairnar, Pune
PUBLISHED ON FEB 28, 2021 12:01 AM IST
The Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has received additional water from Bhama Askhed dam for the eastern parts of the city but the overall tanker numbers are the same
Close
HT Image
HT Image

Pune sessions court rejects anticipatory bail application of Wadgaon Maval JMFC in bribery case

By Nadeem Inamdar, Pune
PUBLISHED ON FEB 28, 2021 12:01 AM IST
Additional Sessions Judge SR Navandar has rejected the bail application of Wadgaon Maval Judicial Magistrate First Class (JMFC) Archana Jatkar filed under Section 438 of CrPC in connection with a case lodged against her at Dehu road police station by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) under sections 7A and 12 of Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988
Close
HT Image
HT Image

Grocery store owner booked for duplicating masala

By Nadeem Inamdar, Pune
PUBLISHED ON FEB 28, 2021 12:00 AM IST
The Sinhagad police have booked a grocery store for selling fake spices in the name of Suhana Masala company
Close
Gurav’s efforts to clean the Indrayani river ghat in Alandi as an engineering student won him huge praise in the area. (HT PHOTO)
Gurav’s efforts to clean the Indrayani river ghat in Alandi as an engineering student won him huge praise in the area. (HT PHOTO)

Software engineer on a plogging mission to clean Pune

UPDATED ON FEB 28, 2021 04:20 PM IST
Initially, Gurav and his friends blamed the local body and government for all these actions, but he personally felt it was the moral duty of citizens including him to follow cleanliness norms and keep the city clean
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP