The word megalith has stemmed from the merger of two Greek terms of "mega" meaning large and "lithic" signifying stone.

Presently the megalithic tribes of India use various structures of stone as burials or memorials of the dead. However in the past megaliths were not only sepulchral/funerary structures but were also used both as memorials of the dead and to commemorate various events of the family and that of the community. Megaliths were found even to be used as boundary markers and also as astronomical structures.

Each passing day numerous ancient megaliths get destroyed in India and we have no record of this disaster. It is sad that no government agencies like the ASI, the State Archaeological Depts and the District Administrations demonstrate any interest in their protection perhaps for their tribal origin and also possibly because megaliths to them do not appear to be significant relics of our land.

In actuality prehistoric megaliths are a significant source of our ancient history and their preservation is imperative as these monuments are evidences that India was indeed a land of the tribals in hoary times. A few of them however suggests that astronomy and geometry was known to the megalithic tribals millennias prior to the emergence of the Brahmanical astronomer/mathematicians. Obliteration of prehistoric megaliths is bound to erase this verity.

To view a few photographs of megaliths of India visit:


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Come let’s celebrate megaliths…




Cupmarks on a natural rock near  the Raja Gosawin menhir. The presence of the cupules near the menhir might suggest that the menhir may have had been a major temple in hoary antiquity.          
   Cupules are a mystery. No one has so far come forth with a suitable elucidation of these tiny hemispherical depressions on stones. These small cavities have been named cupules by the famed archaeologist Roberet G. Bednarik. 
Cupules have been found in all the continents of the world excepting Antarctica. Cupmarks are therefore the oldest surviving rock arts known to human beings. 


         I also agree with Benarik that cupules must have been made for different purposes during different ages. Many associate these features with the symbols of the primeval Great Goddess. Megaliths were the appendages of the now defunct primitive fertility cult, the world over. The ‘yoni’ or vulva of the female was worshipped, as it was through this organ the child took birth. Pregnant wombs and pregnant women became revered entities under this primitive religion of fertility. 

         Therefore, across the world, a specific shape of a hill resembling a reclining female having a pregnant womb began to be worshipped as the Recumbent Mother Goddess form and the female vagina became the emblem of this Great Goddess and it still is in countries like India.Circles are also the symbols of the womb or the vulva of the Great Mother. 

Cupules in a megalithic complex of Napo. Note one inclined stone has the cupules 
   In primitive countries like India, this primordial fertility cult can still be seen mingled with the much later evolved Brahmanical Hindu religion and its Sanskrit rituals. Therefore, circles are drawn in red or ochre on walls during marriages; circles in India are still the symbol of the womb of the Mother.

    It could be that such circular hemispherical engravings made on megaliths known today as cupmarks or cupules, were the symbols of the archaic Mother Goddess. Putting them on megaliths which too were female temples of the Great Goddess was perhaps in a way for the celebration of the glory of the Mother Goddess.

   I have observed two types of cupmarks made on megaliths. One which can be seen made arbitrarily on a specific stone and the other type is a set of two rowed eight in each cupules, rather sixteen cupules in total on a megalith. The second kind I have found to have been made in an east west orientation. Today village children make such cupmarks on stones to play a game with small pebbles in them. The game, I feel is a later alteration of this much primitive arrangement of cupmarks. But do the 16 cupules (two-rowed 8 in each) anything to do with the so-called 16-month megalithic calendar of Alexander Thom?

These two- rowed eight-in-each cupmarks (making a total of 16 cupules) were made in an East-West orientation in most of the horizontal stones, as this recumbent menhir  in Rola. 

   I have found cupmarks on vertical stones in the rock arts India but on megaliths I have always seen them made on horizontal stones and on inclined stone(as in the pic of Napo above) unlike them being found even on vertical stones, abroad (I would however like information on cupmarks on verticals stones in India, if you know of cupulues on vertical megaliths as menhirs or even on dolmens, do inform with a photograph, if possible). The diameters of these depressions range from three cms to a whopping eight inches.


        Just adjacent to the Jaganaath Pahari in  Silwar village in Hazaribagh in Jharkhand is a tall menhir which the villagers revere as the Raja Gosaiwn on whose Northern and western ends surrounding are outcrops which are profusely ornamented with cupules. 

      There are hundreds of them in here.The village women also pour milk in them on Saturdays and Tuesdays, the days assigned to the Mother Goddess.For them the cupules are the Goddesses' vulva hence are objects of veneration.

The cupules at the bottom surface of the Bodhayana Shila in the Jaganaath Pahari
     In the Jaganaath pahari itself there is a polyhedron structure whose bottom surface has about 8 to 10 large sized cupules which does not touch the platform on which the stone rests. These were perhaps sculpted before placing the enormous sized stone upon the platform to work as 'grippers' so that the polyhedron structure does not skid to its front while placing.

   One of the oldest dating of cupmarks has  perhaps come from Australia’s Jinmium province where cupules are found to be about 58,000 to 75,000 years old as dated by Australian scientists according to an article published on " The Sydney Morning Herald News Review of Sep 21, 19996". According to Bednarik  cupmarks appear in India in the Pleistocene, but most are from the Holocene, and they were made from Acheulian to the historic period.

This is a ritualistic implement in a Hindu household. Is this an evolved form of the primitive cupules ?

More Info on cupmarks can be found in megalithsofjharkhand.tripod.com                                                                 or grab  my book :Sacred Stones in Indian Civilization

rajeev said...

good infrmation. I was looking for it.

Anonymous said...

This is really interesting. Megaliths are mystery.

Megaliths of India said...

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