Sunday 27 January 2013

The petrified fossil park

This is one of the few fossil parks in India, It is also the oldest such park in India. It is situated just 20 kilometres from the beautiful town of Pondicherry. Yet, it is relatively unknown and very few tourists head for the park.
The reasons for the lack of footfalls becomes obvious when you head to the park. The approach road is none too impressive and the surroundings need a facelift.
This is the National Fossil Wood Park  of  Tiruvakkarai  geological park, in Tamil Nadu. It is maintained by the Geological Survey of India (GSI)  and it is just a kilometer east of the small village of  Tiruvakkarai.
Tiruvakkarai is on the road between Tindivanam and Pondicherry and it is 155 kms from Chennai. This park is huge-it is spread over 247 acres and it has several wood fossils dating back to 20 million tears or more.
The wood fossils, mostly belonging to coniferous trees, are fenced within nine separate enclaves. These are generally known geologically as Cuddalore series. However, only  a small portion of the fossil park is open to the public. But even this is enough to inspire awe and amazement at Nature’s art.
There are more than 200 fossil trees of various shapes and sizes. The fossils are between three to 15 metres in length and some of them are five metres  in girth. Almost all the fossils are buried in the earth. They belong to the Mio-Pilocene period and the park gives us a glimpse of the state of the flora that existed in that age.
Geologists say that the trees did not fossil here. They were brought here and planted in the area. It was the flooding of the area that could have brought these trees here.
This magnificent park was first discovered by a European naturalist Sonneret, who provided a fairly comprehensive account of the fossils in 1781.
These fossils look so much like tree trunks with algae growth. These trunks even have growth circles, which can tell us the age of  these fossils. Some of the fossils belong to Mesembrioxylon Schmidianum period, while some belong to Angiosperms and  modern families like Guttiferae.
They are actually called Petrified fossils.  Any materials turning into stone (fossil) is by a process called petrification. Since these trees were embalmed in a layer of rock, stone or silica , they are called petrified. The process may take thousands of years.
However, all fossils are not petrified fossils.   
Though the fossil park in Tiruvakkarai is fenced and maintained by the GSI, it is not on any tourist map or route. Some of the wood fossils have been transported to other areas. Lalbagh in Bangalore, Karnataka, has one fossil, while there is another placed for display at the Botanical Gardens in Ooty. There is one fossil at the Fossil Museum in London, UK. 
Tiruvakkarai is on the banks of  a small rivulet called Sankaraabarni. The sand banks besides the river is good place for children to play. There is a temple belonging to the Chola period in the village.
By the way, if you are a geologist or a person interested in earth sciences, you can find fossils older than the Tiruvakkarai fossils at Trichy.
The Trichy fossils can be found at Ariyalur and they all belong to the Upper Cretaceous period. The Sriperambadur fossils near Chennai are still older and they are mainly wood and leaf  impressions.
Another fossil park is in Sattanur in Peramblur district of Tamil Nadu. It has many large tree trunks belonging to the Upper Cretaceous period. However, these are coniferous and they were  brought by the ocean millions of years ago which today is more than 120 kms away.
Similar fossil trees were discovered near Varagur, Anaipadi, Alundalipur and Saradamangalam villages , all near water sources.
One of the fossiled trunk at Sattanur is 18 metres in length. Dr. M. S. Krishnan of the Geological Survey of India first reported this fossil tree in 1940.
The Sattanur fossil park is on the Chennai-Trichy road.


  1. Thanks for your grateful informations, this blogs will be really help for Tourism Portal.

  2. Thanks for your appreciation, Mr. Vijay Kumar