Reblogged from My Travelogue,

By Bhushavali

I’ve been to tree parks and I’ve been to national parks. But National Fossil Wood Park? Yup, there is one, and I recently ventured there.

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Well, Thiruvakkarai houses two things. One, a temple, the Chandramouliswarar temple, and another, the Fossil Wood Park. This time I went to the park.

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What exactly is a fossil wood park? Long, long ago, once a upon a time, about two million years ago, our great great grandparents, as stone age men, chopped wood. Wood means not branches and twigs, I’m talking about huge, wide, tree trunks! Some which were even 30meters long and 1.5 meters in diameter. I dunno what they used it for. But then, along the river, these tree trunks got buried in the course of time.

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Over time, the organic matter inside them got replaced by silica and they got fossilized. They retained their color and shape and texture, but got rock solid! Some were very interesting. See the above photo. Doesn’t the texture look like the ‘Om’ symbol?

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The best part is that you can still see the annular rings, the texture, colors of the layers, nodes, everything… It looks so much like wood, but feels like stone!

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In technical terms, they are the Mio-Pliocene Sedimentary rocks. These rocks here are called Cuddalore sandstone formations. Around 200 such tree trunks have been found in this region in an area that covers 247 acres. All such fossil woods have been collected from various places in the surroundings and placed here in an open air museum kinda set up.

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The European naturalist M. Sonneret was the first one to document the existence of such trees here in this region in 1781. Presently, this is maintained by GSI, the Geological Survey of India!

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Think of it, it’s two million years ago. The trees that were there at that point of time may not even exist today. It’s like a treasury! A particular variety of tree resembled today’s tamarind! Trees were of both Gymnosperm and Angiosperm varieties, meaning that the trees had seeds were of both open and closed varieties.

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The place also has a huge central banyan tree which is 300 years old. No, it was not as big as the Sivaranthagam banyan.

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But this one too had a little village deity beneath it and some votive figures of horses dedicated to it as well! Also there is a little inhouse gallery that has posters that explain to you all about this natural occurrence!

To reach there is not very easy! The last leg of the journey was rather painful with a very bad road and non-working gps! But thank God for a very helpful local man who was taking his granddaughter on a walk, thanks to the cloudy weather, who actually knew exactly where the park was located. Also thanks to the GSI, from the main road, there were pointers placed approaching the location…

TO GET THERE:

From Pondicherry Railway Station: 28.5km on SH 203.

Its a road parallel to the Pondy -> Villupuram Road. Go straight for about 24 kilometers and then turn right. After 4 kilometers is the destination.

Just before reaching Thiruvakkarai village, a right turn leads to the fossil park. A left turn, a hike up the hill, takes you to the temple.

On Google Maps: 

Dedicated to Venkat