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Origins of Kerala People

Man came late to Kerala even though Kerala today is the most heavily over-populated region of India --4% of all Indians live on 1% of India's land. It seems that Stone-Age people deliberately avoided the forests of Kerala infested by Malaria-bearing mosquitoes and man-eating tigers. No relic of the Stone Age, not a single authentic Neolithic implement, has been discovered in any parts of Kerala. Mankind appeared on Kerala soil as an Iron-Age builder of megaliths.

Megaliths or huge burial stones carved by iron implements are scattered all along the ghats of Wynad in the north to Trivandrum in the south. My research shows a pattern of distribution for these stones extending all the way from Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh along the Nepal Valley down through the Vindhya Mountains to Tamil Nadu and the High Ranges of Kerala. This pattern indicates that Kerala'searly people were originally from the Northwest of India.

The megalithic types of Kerala -- similar to those of Brittany and Cornwall--are isolated and multiple dolmens, port-hole cists, menhirs, kudakallus or umbrella stones, topikallus or cap stones, and rock-cut caves. In many caves archeologists have found, especially during the Varkala Tunnel construction, old pots of the "black-and-red-ware" variety and human bones. At some sites even terra cotta figurines have been discovered. Topikallu and kudakallu are sepulchral monuments under which are found burial urns in pits. The remarkable thing about the Kerala megaliths is that they are not as old as the Harappan culture (2500-1500 B.C.). According to Sir Mortimer Wheeler and many historians, the megalith culture was introduced into Kerala between 300 B.C. and 50 A.D. Megalithic evidence shows that the builders came originally from Northwestern India and entered Kerala's High Ranges around 200 B.C.

Though we are unable to identify these early inhabitants of Kerala with any certainty, we can be certain that their descendants are alive and well in Kerala today. These people, Keralites of Kerala and elsewhere, are, in the view of anthropologists, "an ethnological museum." Several racial strains are easily recognized in the racial composition of the Keralites of different communities. There are still a number of "white" or fair-skinned Brahmins of the Aryan stock; according to the Kannada tradition. King MayuraVarma sent Brahmin families to Kerala from Ahichatra in North India.

Some point out the Negrito element as representing the earliest inhabitants of Kerala; some members of the hill tribes of Kadar, Kanikkar, Uralis, and Paniyar have curly to frizzy hair, black skin, broad noses, thick lips, and round heads that are characteristic of the Negroes of the Andaman Islands, Malay Peninsula, and Africa. However, the Australoids also have similar features; the Australoid group is the major racial element in the Munda or Kolarian population of North and Central India and in the Dravidian population of South India. Some anthropologists even notice distinctive Mongoloid features in Kerala Dravidians.

Race Mixing

It is a truism to say that to a greater or lesser extent mankind is a mixture of races. But it is true. Pure races do not exist in the human species. Everywhere racial mixing is taking place just as sex-mixing is taking place among different breeds of cows and dogs. All human races cross easily and produce normal, healthy progeny with generally improved physical and mental qualities.



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