Experts in bid to uncover a Great mystery
By Dean Nelson in London
Saturday August 08 2009
A road being built in a remote part of the Himalayas is putting researchers on course to study descendants of Alexander the Great's army.
According to legend, the fair-haired and blue-eyed inhabitants of Malana are descended from Alexander's soldiers.
A team of anthropologists has set out to unravel a mystery that has fascinated historians for centuries. Scientists from Sweden and India have joined forces to establish the origins of the culture and language.
The village boasts what is believed to be the oldest experiment in democracy. Its people operate their own republic, with an elected upper and lower house. The village has a judicial system with a court to resolve disputes among 200 families.
According to the legend, Alexander stopped in Malana, part of Himachal Pradesh, in 326BC when he defeated King Porus. The battle sapped his army's confidence and some settled with local women.
Professor PK Vaid, of the Institute of Tribal Studies, Shimla, said DNA testing could determine any links to people in Macedonia.
"Their features appear to be European," he said. "They have blue eyes and fair hair. Their democratic system could have its roots in Greece. It's unique."
Such a long journey
by Nimi Kurian
The legend of Alexander the Great lives on. In Himachal Pradesh’s sleepy Malana, a cluster of 12 villages comprising eight clans, the mystique comes alive when its inhabitants proclaim themselves as descendants of the Greek king and speak a language only they can understand.
This may be unravelled soon: a Swedish university is in talks with the Institute of Tribal Studies of Himachal University is to launch a research to understand the mysterious but small population.
Uppsala University, one of the oldest institutions Nordic countries founded in 1477, and named after the town where it is located, boasts of preserving a large number of ancient symbols that have survived even today.
The Institute of Tribal Studies director P. K. Vaid says that the project had been broadly divided into two parts — trace the origin of the language that the people of Malana speak and trace the origin of the people. Alexander the Great had defeated the Indian king Porus along the banks of the Beas. After a series of campaigns on India, his soldiers felt tired and wanted to return home. Alexander, too, is said to have gone back home. Lore has it that some of his soldiers, too tired to return, preferred to settle down along the banks of the Beas and it is said residents of Malana may be their descendants.