Punkri Burwadih is an ancient megalithic site in Hazaribagh, Jharkhand state, in east India, that features several astronomical alignments to the solstices and equinoxes.
Subhashis Das, a researcher of megaliths in India over the last 20 years, reports that India is home to countless impressive ancient megalithic structures, including menhirs, dolmens, stone sculptures, and ancient stone circles.1 Many of these sites date back to the Iron Age, and some appear to have been built over even older sites yet.2
Interestingly, many of India’s megaliths bear a remarkable similarity to other ancient sacred sites aligned to the sun found throughout the world, for example in places such as Europe, New Zealand, Africa, and the Americas. Punkri Burwadih is no exception — this site could easily blend in as one of the ancient megalithic sites in the UK, for instance.
Punkri Burwadih has been dated to be older than 3000 BC,3 and is reportedly the only site in India where hundreds of people gather at the spring and autumn equinoxes each year to view the stunning sunrise, seen framed by the “V”-shaped notch between two standing stones.4
Subhashis studied this site’s alignments and concluded that:
“Punkri Burwadih is a wonder… not only because it is a wonderful megalithic site but because it is a megalith which reveals the ancients’ precise understanding of horizon astronomy and also of the transits of the sun.
Each stone here is positioned in alignment to prime peaks or notches of the surrounding hills, mathematical ratios and even to major sunrises and sets.”5
The azimuth, tilt, and incline of the standing stones at Punkri Burwadih, as well as the “V”-shaped notch, pointer stones, and the interaction with the surrounding landscape allow this site to capture a remarkable number of archeoastronomical alignments, including winter solstice sunrise, summer solstice sunset and sunrise, and the sunrise on the equinoxes.6
While Punkri Burwadih hosts tourists on a daily basis throughout the year and attracts hundreds to marvel at the sunrise alignments during the equinoxes, unfortunately, Subhashis reports that this historic sun-aligned site is currently in danger of being destroyed due to a lack of protection from the authorities. Several other sites in the region have already been spoiled in a similar manner due to expanding industrial activities. It would be a real pity to see this beautiful site and its heritage vanish or become obscured, as has happened with other ancient sites around the world.
Subhashis Das explains more about the dangers this site is facing in his article below:
Das, Subhashish. “Why Indian stone henges are not UNESCO heritage sites.” WION. October 11, 2017. Accessed October 28, 2017. http://www.wionews.com/south-asia/why-indian-stone-henges-are-not-unesco-heritage-sites-21158.
Deogharia, Jaideep, and Tnn. The Times of India. November 28, 2011. Accessed October 29, 2017. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/Barring-the-exception-of-Punkri-Burwadih-megalith-site-of-Hazaribag-which-has-scientifically-been-proven-to-date-back-to-beyond-3000BC-most-of-the-megalith-sites-in-Jharkhand-were-earlier-considered-being-of-the-Iron-Age-Self-styled-megalith-expert-and-author-of-two-books-on-megaliths-Subhashis-Das-said-that-he-got-the-microliths-excavated-from-Punkri-Burwadih-Megalith-site-dated-in-the-Paleolithic-museum-of-Germany-where-the-age-of-microliths-was-established-to-be-beyond-3000BC-/articleshow/10907240.cms.
Das, Subhashis. “GOVERNMENT MUTE ON THE DESTRUCTION OF A FEW MEGALITHIC SITES IN HAZARIBAGH. JHARKHAND. EAST INDIA.” Megaliths of India. June 29, 2017. Accessed October 29, 2017. http://subhashisdas.com/government-mute-on-the-destruction-of-a-few-megalithic-sites-in-hazaribagh-jharkhand-east-india/.
The Megalithic Portal and Megalith Map. “Punkri Burwadih.” Accessed October 29, 2017. http://www.megalithic.co.uk/article.php?sid=31359.
“The restoration of the fallen menhir of Punkri Burwadih.” The Heritage Trust. September 16, 2012. Accessed October 29, 2017. https://theheritagetrust.wordpress.com/2012/09/12/the-restoration-of-the-fallen-menhir-of-punkri-burwadih/.