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Guardians of Palau's Ancient Legacy


Nestled in the heart of Ngarchelong, on the hill slopes at the northernmost point of Babeldaob Island, lies an archaeological treasure shrouded in enigma. This sacred ground is home to 52 ancient basalt megaliths lined up in two rows. These silent sentinels, known locally as Badrulchau, or stone monoliths, have witnessed the ebb and flow of history. According to traditional Palauan belief, these monoliths were revered as sacred prayer grounds, a place where earth met the divine.


Whispers from the Past

Dating back to 161 CE, during Palau's Earthwork Era, these stone monoliths stand as monumental testaments to a bygone era. Legend weaves tales of gods crafting these pillars as foundations for their celestial meetings and could house thousands of people at one time. In all likelihood, these majestic stones may have stood tall as pillars supporting a bai, an ancient Palauan meeting-house. If this proves true, these monoliths could be the vestiges of the grandest bai ever constructed. 


Others suggest a more worldly origin, hinting at Portuguese hands sculpting these magnificent sentinels. The lore even whispers of a Portuguese shipwreck near Kayangel, its survivors settling on Babeldaob island, where Badrulchau now stands.


But our favorite version among Palau’s cherished oral traditions is this captivating story of how Badrulchau unfolds amidst the shadows of a dark universe. From Lukes, a shallow expanse nestled between Peleliu and Angaur, every element of this enigmatic site was meticulously sourced. It was a time when the gods toiled in obscurity, each entrusted with a distinct facet of crafting the Bai, Badrulchau's heart and soul.


In the midst of this divine endeavor, Medechii Belau, a playful trickster among the gods, found himself lagging in his task. Fueled by determination, he conjured a wondrous spell with a humble coconut husk. The husk ignited, transforming into a rooster whose crow heralded the imminent dawn. With the first light's approach, the gods, despite their fervent labor, departed, leaving their work behind. Thus, remnants of the Bai are said to echo across various corners of Palau, even reaching Ngerudechong of Ngerbau in Ngarchelong, near the revered Badrulchau. Since that fateful crow, illumination has graced the cosmos, and light has reigned ever since. In the realm of legend, a rooster of burnt coconut husk hue stands testament to this extraordinary tale.


While much remains veiled in the mists of time, explorations by archaeologists hint at a legacy reaching back to 150 A.D. Intriguingly, radiocarbon dating and other intriguing findings have suggested that the stones weren't hewn from the island itself, but imported, symbolizing the might of the ruling elites of that time. Similar artifacts have been discovered in distant lands like Yap and Tonga, with their origins tracing back to the distant shores of Fiji and Samoa.


Guardians of History

Recognizing its profound historical significance, Badrulchau earned its rightful place on the Palau Register of Historic Places in 1989. This site, spanning five acres, hosts over 24 monolith columns, etching a legacy between Ollei and Mengellang hamlets, standing sentinel over 500 yards from the shoreline. The Ngarchelong State Government, devoted custodians of this ancient realm, ensure its periodic upkeep, preserving its sanctity for generations to come.

Today, Badrulchau stands as a revered testament to a heritage that transcends time, a place untouched by contemporary pursuits.

Immerse yourself in the echoes of ancient Palau at Badrulchau, where every stone whispers a tale of a bygone era. Journey with us, as we uncover the enigma of these silent sentinels, and pay homage to the guardians of Palau's timeless legacy.

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