Govt. has done little to stop illegal tourism from defacing the 5,000-year-old drawings at Karikiyoor

The rock paintings in Karikiyoor at Kil Kotagiri in the Nilgiri forests have withstood the forces of nature for some 5,000 years, but in just the last few years, close to 40% of the paintings have been destroyed by trekkers, tourists, and vandals.

Members of the Irula tribal community, who have an ancestral link to the site, said they were “extremely angered” and “disturbed” at the damage by illegal trekkers, who have painted over religious symbols using whitener pens and political messages with chalk, while couples have carved their names on the rocks, permanently disfiguring the priceless pre-historic site. They enter the site without permission.1

C. Maheswaran, former director of the Tribal Research Centre in Udhagamandalam, said the society that painted the symbols onto these rocks were contemporaneous with the Indus Valley civilisation.

“The rock paintings in Karikiyoor contain analogous-Indus script, meaning they resemble the script found in Indus civilization sites of northern India,” he said.


  • 1. “The site remained undisturbed till very recently, when a spurt in the number of tourists has led to many people organising illegal treks to the rock art site,” said R. Ranganathan, a youth from Karikiyoor village. Mr Ranganathan and others now plan to set up a group to regulate tourist entry into the reserve forest — the rock paintings are found deep inside.