DHARMAPURI: A team of researchers here recently discovered a hero stone, recognising a warrior’s meritorious service, estimated to date back to 12th century CE.The team, comprising research students led by History professor Chandrasekhar of Dharmapuri Arts and Science College, discovered the hero stone in Vathalmalai tribal hamlet. The stone depicts image of a warrior with one foot raised, carrying a knife and a shield, signifying a battle stance.
According to Chandrasekhar, the hero stone, called ‘Anirai Meetal Nadukal’ (‘A’ refers to cow, ‘nirai’ translates to herd, and ‘meetal’ meaning rescue), was set up to honour the life of warriors who protected the herd belonging to a small tribe in the kingdom.Details in the stone including earrings and hairstyle allowed the team to roughly estimate the stone’s vintage to 12th Century CE. Additional information from the stone may have been lost as it has suffered damage due to passage of time.
“In the 12th and 13th centuries, there was a lot of conflicts between two minor kingdoms preceding a war. The war involved stealing cattle from each other’s kingdoms. In one such minor war, this warrior could have died while accomplishing a meritorious deed,” he explained. Further, he claimed that the warrior depicted in the stone may belong to the Malayali tribe currently living in the Vathalmali area, who came as refugees from Thanjavur to escape war and to preserve their culture. Chandrasekhar added that Dharmapuri and Krishnagiri districts are a treasure trove for historians and enthusiasts, as the region was convergence point of three ancient kingdoms.