Taking the freshly cut road of NH129A to visit the mystical monoliths at Willong Khullen, a small village on the border of Manipur and Nagaland on 29th October, 2022, with 63 students was not in vain as we reached the village we were greeted with rows of stones in irregular shapes and sizes. It stands just at the entrance of the village. It took us around 2 hours to reach Maram from Kohima for the less taken road to Willong Khullen because of the heavy trucks. As mentioned, the freshly cut road, inhaling the dust in a closed windows in that hot weather was not easy but the difficult journey was paid off as we were amazed by the vertical stone slabs of Willong Khullen located at a distance of 39 to 40 kilometers from Maram.
After seeing those massive stones there were thousands of questions drifted in our minds. The first was how did they manage to carry such a massive stones, many has a height over 7 meters and 1 meter wide? What was the significance of erecting such a massive stones? Why people has takentrouble to erect such a massive stones? But there was no written records to clear our doubts about the monoliths how, when, what and why the stones were erected apart from the tale narrated to us by the villagers. The stones numbered around 135 which is of different shape and size. The total number of the stones keeps on changing as you always miss count it because of their odd placement but the villagers believe that a spirit confuse us from counting it. According to the villagers, the stone talks to each other at night calling each others name and as a consequence, people do not venture out to the sitebefore sunrise and after sunset. The spirit of the stone could invade bad dreams. Each stones has a name and unique stories and it keeps on growing. Women are not allowed to climb the stones as it bring misfortune to the village or the stone falls down. The villagers believe that only a man of extra ordinary strength and power can think of erecting such a stones. Rituals are performed followed by a code of conduct. Some of the code of conducts include that a husband should not cohabit with his wife before he venture out to find the perfect stone or misfortune may occur. To find a perfect stone and drag the stone from a far distant a person has to fast the whole night and perform a ritual offering a local wine to the stone. The villagers would assist him in dragging the stone and if he finds it difficult to lift the stone the villagers would sing a special folk song in bringing the stone to the village. The villagers believe that the stones were erected by an individual, clan or a family to commemorate their victory in wars, some villagers believe that the stones were erected to show their wealth, some believe that the monoliths were built in honour of the ancient war heroes. The villagers also said some stones are still laying at the outskirt of the village which could not be dragged to the place where the other stones are erected.
Most of the villagers and also many of us are unaware of the monoliths. The villagers are ignorant of the importance of the monoliths and no people or organization has taken steps to preserve the monumental site.As mentioned earlier, since there was no written record about the monoliths we came back with thousands of questions in our mind and also questioning ourselves whether the narrated tale about the monoliths are true. The intention of writing this is to educate or inform the world about the glorious past of our ancestors and to bring more attention to both the state governments to take steps and promote such a monumental site as some people have started encroaching towards the site and also some have made the site a picnic spot or for some gathering, making the site just as an ordinary place and in the near future the entire monument and the site might go invisible.
The writer is an Assistant Professor in the Department of History, SJC