Prehistoric Pakri Barwadih Megalithic Observatory Site

Hey, friends! Have you ever heard of Pakri Barwadih megalithic site? It’s a place near Hazaribagh in Jharkhand, India, where ancient people erected huge stones for astronomical purposes. Yes, you read that right. These stones are not just random rocks, but they are aligned with the sun and the hills in a precise way.

Pakri Barwadih megalithic site is one of the oldest and most unique sites of its kind in India. It dates back to at least 3000 years ago, and it was used by the people of that time to observe the equinoxes, when the day and night are equal. The site has two prominent menhirs, or standing stones, that form a V shape. On the equinox days, the sun rises exactly between these two stones, creating a spectacular sight.

Megalithic monuments are among the earliest and most permanent of archaeological structures, and so many of them were used, or more properly, have been used and reused for thousands of years. Their original intent is likely lost to the ages, but they may have had multiple functions as they were used by different cultural groups over the centuries and millennia. In addition, a few probably retain their original configuration, having been eroded or vandalized or quarried or added to or simply modified for reuse by subsequent generations.

Megalith (Mahapashan) have played a major role in the development of the first stage of Human civilization. Humans have cut down mountains (Mother Hills) into various shapes of Stones for different purposes (Worshipping, Astronomy & Cosmology and Funeral Rituals). Though, this culture is extinct in many parts of the world, but it is still alive in Jharkhand and North-Eastern States.

But what’s even more fascinating is that Pakri Barwadih megalithic site is not just a simple observatory, but also a calendar. The site has other stones that mark different seasons and festivals of the year. For example, there is a stone that points to the direction of Makar Sankranti, a harvest festival celebrated in January. There is another stone that indicates the direction of Chhath Puja, a festival dedicated to the sun god in November. Pakri Barwadih is a rare megalithic site having no known parallels in the state and is unlike other tribal megalithic burials.

We, Judhajit, Tania, and I, were returning home after visiting the Isko caves, famous for its prehistoric rock art. Mr. Das advised me to visit the archaeo-astronomical site at Pakri Barwadih, a few kilometers from Barkagaon. He told us that there is a signage on the road. We missed this site while going to the Isko caves as there was no signage on the road. It might have been removed by miscreants. The site is very close to the NTPC Power plant. While on our return, we used Google Maps and a few local inquiries to reach this site.

Punkri Megalith
Sun rises on vernal equinox between two menhirs at Pakri, Barwadih, Hazaribagh | Photo: Subhashis Das
Megalithic Observatory at Pankari Barwadih, Barkagaon, Hazaribagh explained by Mr, Subhashis Das. Video by Multiple Eye

On every 21st March and 23rd September, many villagers, tourists and researchers visit this place to observe the Equinoxes. The observation takes place for 30 minutes. It is also known to offer great views of the sunrise and sunset throughout the annual Solstices. The scientists and researchers, who study the movements of the Sun, verify with these megaliths, as observatories from the prehistoric times.

A small stone has been made to function as a pointer, is arranged in a North-South position to the west of a larger menhir. This stone is placed in such a manner that it is linear to the crevice between the two larger menhirs which faces the mid-winter sunrise. Advanced research is needed to explore many hidden facts about these sites. Also, these sites need protection and popularity.

Pakri Barwadih megalithic site is a living testimony of the ancient knowledge and wisdom of the people who built it. It shows how they were aware of the movements of the sun and the stars, and how they used them to organize their lives and rituals. It also shows how they respected and worshipped nature, and how they created a harmony between themselves and their environment.

Belying their historical significance, megalithic sites today are found in various states of neglect. There are no plans for preservation of this feat of monumental architecture. These historic and cultural monuments are found in various states of neglect. While some are still intact, many have been damaged by entrepreneurial folks carrying away the stone slabs for construction purposes.

Unfortunately, Pakri Barwadih megalithic site is under threat from coal mining and urbanization. The hills that surround the site have been cut down and altered, disrupting the alignment of the stones. The site itself has been neglected and vandalized by locals and visitors. There is an urgent need to protect and preserve this priceless heritage of India, before it is lost forever.

Megalith sites across the world
Images of Equinox sunrises in a few megaliths and other monuments across the world.

Megaliths are not protected as heritage monuments, and they are being destroyed constantly by the villagers in the greed of buried treasure. Many ignorant of megaliths, cart away menhirs to their homes, using them as drain covers or as washing stones by their wells. Compare this with the Stonehenge, a world-famous megalithic monument which draws millions of visitors from all over the world. The government should build megalithic parks to help preserve these fast-disappearing monuments.

This is an updated version of my old post on this ancient megalithic observatory after my visit there on 02 Feb 2023.

41 thoughts on “Prehistoric Pakri Barwadih Megalithic Observatory Site

  1. Amazing post. This is really an eye opener. As an ex military guy, we do a lot of map reading and cartography during our service and this is something I had never heard of before, probably one of the most ancient ways one could actually find the true east. With magnetic compasses or lode stones, finding true north is equally a challenge.

    I have bookmarked this post. It is time to point the bearings eastward… 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Sir I also have deep respect for our monuments and strongly think that there is an urgent need to preserve protect and restore them…how can common ppl like us accomplish this….eg. u being a banker is pursuing ur passion by what means ???…how to create awareness among ppl?…

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Thanks, Uday. Heritage awareness is an important component of conservation. One of the basic causes for damage of heritage is due to lack of awareness to the public at large and non-involvement of people in the process of conservation as well. Reaching out to as many people we can is probably a thing that we should undertake in preserving our cultural heritage. We need to create awareness among the general public towards the importance of safeguarding heritage assets by whatever means at our disposal. Increased participation of citizens is needed for the protection of cultural heritage.
          I believe that creating awareness and promotion of the cultural heritage is necessary to make the general public understands the pressing need for conservation of cultural heritage. Let’s join in creating awareness and reaching out to the people.


  2. That’s something new for me. I never knew or heard about these ancient stones. Protection of structures is a big issue in India because people have no understanding of its importance. We have already discussed this in comments on one of my post. Thanks for the share.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s even a news to me. I’ve visited Hazaribagh but nobody ever told me about these sun-aligned megaliths! It’s almost a coincidence that just half an hour ago I read another blog post which focussed on “Astro-tourism”. The name is self-explanatory and according to that post, it’s gaining popularity thick and fast. It’s a pity that while we have such amazing spots in our country, they are getting eroded or ruined due to lack of proper maintenance.

    I’m bookmarking this post too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, it’s a pity that such sites in India are not getting any governmental support and are being allowed to be destroyed, vandalised. I recently read of another such site, a 7,000-year-old megalithic site that served as an astronomical observatory has been found in Muduma village in Telangana. The stones have been placed there in the shape of Ursa Minor (Saptarshi Mandal) constellation. Such sites should be protected and publicised. We can have a good share of astro-tourism, as you mentioned, in India.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. What an informative and enlightening post! I consider myself as widely travelled but what a shame that I had no idea of these ancient megaliths! Thanks for sharing these treasures Indra and those images are superb!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Stonehenge is so famous, but I wonder how many people know about the megaliths of Hazaribagh. I did not know before I read this post. Thank you for sharing such interesting information about these fascinating megaliths. These surely deserve to be protected against vandalism and promoted as well.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Very much, I agree it is a vastly underdeveloped state in terms of tourism.
        If you like , we can join hands in visiting places and showcasing Jharkhand and Bihar, especially the offbeat destinations. I have done a few, want to do more.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Vijay Kumar Das

    झारखंड टूरिज्म एरिया सरकार को इस पर ध्यान देना चाहिए और अच्छे से देखभाल करके पूरे टूरिज्म एरिया को बढ़ावा देना चाहिए ताकि लोग झारखंड के बारे में ज्यादा जानकारी लोगों को मिले डॉक्टर राय चौधरी सर जी को धन्यवाद🙏🙏

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Wonderful narration with information galore… It’s an eye opener to fact that our country is full of exciting stories still to be told… You are doing an excellent job in this issue through your blog… Keep it up bro…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Aro. I feel sad seeing such wonderful heritages getting spoiled due to the government inaction and public apathy. I have seen similar ignorance and inaction in Iraq also. Europe is way ahead in maintaining and projecting their heritages.


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