Most of us are quite familiar with the Stonehenge in Wiltshire, England, which are the remains of a ring of standing stones set within earthworks.
But you’d be surprised to know that India also has its own version of a historic Stonehenge.
Located thirty-nine kilometres away from Maram village in Manipur, Willong Khullen is marked by several stone pillar erections just like the Stonehenge in the UK.
The tallest of the pillars is seven feet high and about a meter thick. Located on the slopes of a valley, it not only offers a mesmerising scenic view but also brings in a sense of pride and nostalgia about the rich cultural heritage of Manipur.
The locals believe that one cannot count the number of stone pillars as a spirit haunts the place and makes the person forgets the counting.
Known as the Katak Tukhum, the locals narrate a story of a Japanese who challenged to count the number of pillars. As soon as he started to count, a white bear appeared from nowhere and chased the Japanese away.
According to the villagers, the site was built by their forefathers and the monoliths have a connection with the mythology of the area. With each pillar having a unique story, it is believed that these pillars speak to each other at night by called each other with names like ‘Kala’, ‘Kanga’, ‘Hila’ etc.
Villagers also believe that a person of God-like strength lifted these heavy stones from a suitable site and brought them to Katak Tukhum.
Further explaining the folklore, villagers say that the man had to fast for one day before he could lift the giant stones. The rituals included offering wine to the stones and singing special songs to get a yes from the stone before lifting it.
The village limit is marked by a massive stone which is believed to be sent from God.
However, the historically important site is being neglected by the government and the new generation.
The advent of Christianity in Manipur has added another bruise to the depleting popularity of such beliefs and traditions. Only a handful of aged villagers who know the folk songs and the new generation doesn’t seem to care. The villagers have now taken upon themselves to preserve the rich cultural heritage after realising that the government does not seem to listen to their requests of turning this place into a preserved site and building a museum.
A similar site with more number of monoliths and in a bigger size is located near Shillong in Meghalaya.
It is high time that this beautiful site is recognised and preserved by the government or else it will just become a remembrance of the by-gone era.