Stone pillar that changes its colour to red during summer dates back to Iron Age
Every summer, when Nalgonda features among the hottest districts in the State, residents of Padurivarigudem village in Nakrekal, about 30 km from here, know it is also anniversary time for one of its landmarks — Netturu Sthambham (pillar of blood).
Common knowledge in the village is that the stone pillar changes its colour to red during summer, and hence its name. But consequently, the landmark drove researchers and enthusiasts here to eventually discover it as a menhir, upright stones planted in the earth during the megalithic age or the Iron Age, to indicate memorial sites.
In March 2017, E. Sivanagi Reddy of Cultural Centre of Vijayawada and Amaravathi (CCVA), along with locals and amateur archaeologists, was one of the first to inspect the site at Padurivarigudem and announce the discovery. The structure was in memory of a chief leader in the megalithic culture, he had said. The nearby Kandimallavarigudem hamlet also showed a 1289 AD inscription and Iron Age burials made of blocks and slabs in the near-extinction state, besides the remnants of the characteristic pottery of the period.
“The menhir is 11-foot high and planted six feet below the earth; its changing colour in summer is because of its mineral composition. Only 10 burial sites are remaining, and their existence is doubtful if they are not protected now,” Mr Reddy says, visiting the sites on Sunday.
According to him, several burials, made of huge boulders and arranged in a geometric pattern near the Chinna Cheruvu of the village, were destroyed for want of land for agricultural operations and bulldozing works.
Mr. Sivanagi Reddy, a former OSD in the Department of Archaeology & Museums and former director of State Gallery of Arts, Hyderabad, opines that the Department of Heritage, Telangana, should declare the site ‘protected’ under The Telangana Ancient and Historical Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1960. As part of CCVA’s ‘Preserve Heritage for Posterity’ initiative, he said residents of Padurivarigudem and Kandimallavarigudem were being sensitised about the importance of prehistoric relics and monuments.