Tag Archives: kukki

Visit to the Bhimlat Prehistoric Rock Painting Site @Bundi

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I had never been to a rock / cave shelter before (and read somewhere that how some are not easy to reach) so was a little apprehensive about its accessibility and my physical fitness 😀  I kept telling my husband that he might have to go down into the ravine cave without me. Ultimately we left it for the final moment to decide, amen!

Rock Art / Cave Painting is a vast specialized subject and every now and then newer theories emerge basis on going research and studies. I had to do a lot of study and references before penning it down in the best possible way 🙂

Hence, before we go to the Bhimlat rock art,  we will try and understand cave rock paintings briefly as a layman so that its easier for us to relate to them.

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Cave paintings are painted drawings on cave walls or ceilings primarily of prehistoric origin. The rock art is prehistoric man-made markings on natural stone. Both belong to the wider Parietal art, the archaeological term for artwork done on cave walls or large blocks of stone. Its interesting to note that paintings / drawings were the oldest art forms used by human beings to express themselves with cave wall as the canvas.

Why did prehistoric people draw these pictures?

  • They may be beautifying their homes
  • They may be keeping a visual record of their day-to-day life (like modern day diary)
  • They may be educating their people / children through these paintings
  • They may be communicating with each other through these drawings
  • They may be Shamanic art or expressions. There is a school of firm believers that the artwork of the caves are depictions of what our ancestors witnessed in their visions. The shamanistic element in the cave decorations is getting even more widely (though not universally) accepted

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What are a few salient features of such paintings?

  • They are the greatest wealth the primitive humans have left behind
  • The paintings are mostly around social activities such as hunting and group activities – dancing, day to day activity depiction. So one can say they emphasize community and the importance of group activities.
  • Animal figures are more prevalent than human figures stating the significant role of animals in the life people of those time. Early man was of a nomadic nature which meant moving from place to place in search of food thus they had to secure themselves from predator animals. At the same time animals were their main source of food besides wild fruits/ plants (agriculture was not a part of their lifestyle yet)
  • Colors used are mainly white, yellow, orange, red, ochre, purple, brown, green and black. White and red being the most used. These colors were made from various rock stone like red from haematite (known in India as Geru); green from chalcedony stone;  white in all probability from limestone. The stone must have been ground into a powder and mixed with water and some sticky substance like animal fat, gum or resin from trees. Brushes would have been from twigs
  • At many rock painting sites there are layers of paintings one on top of the other. Either they were redrawn or people from different area, generation, time inhabited the same place
  • These prehistoric paintings help us to understand about early human beings — their lifestyle, food habits, daily activities and thought process
  • Caves were used for ceremonial or magical rituals, which reflects in the art. It also might explain how religion originated

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Understanding the Prehistoric Ages
The drawings / paintings belong to 7 historical periods namely Period I or Upper Palaeolithic/Stone Age; Period II or Mesolithic; and Period III or Chalcolithic and thereafter Period IV & V  of the Early historic and Period VI & VIl of the Medieval. Our focus will be on Prehistoric era art or rock paintings of Period I-III.  (Also please remember that stone age is divided into 3 phases — lower, middle and upper Palaeolithic age. Rock art came into existence only during the upper phase)

Upper Palaeolithic or Stone Age

  • In this phase of the stone age we get the first sign of artistic expressions
  • The three main art forms were cave painting, rock engraving and miniature figurative carvings
  • The drawings were mainly of human figures, their activities, some geometric designs & symbols
  • Paintings were in dark red of huge animal figures like bison, tiger, elephant, rhino and boar beside stick-like human figures
  • It also marks the acceptance of rituals and ceremonies which was shamanistic in nature

Mesolithic Age

  • Is the transitional age between the ice affected hunter/gatherer culture of the Upper Paleolithic and the farming culture of the Neolithic
  • Largest number of paintings belongs to this period
  • Though the subjects in paintings increased the size became smaller
  • Hunting scenes predominate along with images of trap / snares they used to catch animals. Hunters are seen in groups armed with barbed spears, pointed sticks, arrows and bows. In some drawings animals are chasing men and in others they are being chased by hunters.
  • It is characterized by more advanced hunter-gathering, fishing and rudimentary forms of cultivation.
  • Many rock/cave sites in India belong to this period

Chalcolithic or Copper Age

  • The Copper age art begins
  • Paintings of this period reveal the communication between the cave dwellers with settled communities
  • Pottery and metal tools find a place in the drawings. Painted pottery is a mark of the Chalcolithic period.

 

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Understanding Shamanism

  • A shaman is a person who can connect/communicate with the “spirit” world
  • They gain knowledge and the power to heal by entering into the spiritual world in a trance state
  • Most shamans get dreams or visions that convey certain messages in form of symbol and images
  • There is a growing belief that a high percentage of rock art is of a shamanic origin i.e. shamanic experiences led to the sudden development of art, symbolic thinking, and early civilization


About Bhimlat rock painting

While planning the trip I looked up for these cave rock paintings (a fellow travel blogger had mentioned them) and it lead me to Om Prakash Sharma, popularly known as Kukki. The Bhimlat site is just one of the 100+ rock art sites, discovered in the Bundi-Bhilwara-Tonk area of Rajasthan, by this simple 8th Std dropout Bundi resident.

Mr Sharma has, perhaps, also discovered the longest rock painting stretch of 35 kms. Commendable. right!

All this has been done by him without any support or funding. The driving force being an inexplicable “mad passion“or “fitoor” or “junoon“.  The rock paintings discovered by him are from different ages like mesolithic, chalcolithic, metal ages and even prehistoric. The exact period / age of these paintings can only be accurately deciphered once excavation is carried out and carbon dating is done. As of now, it is said that some belong to an era more than 15000 years ago. These rock paintings are mainly found in hilltops, cavities in rocks and small caves along the Chambal river.

Coming back to the Bhimlat rock painting, we were on this long informative walk through the dry plateau forest area of Bhimlat bordered by deep rocky canyons. We stopped to see a demonstration on making of different colors from different stones; making of a brush to paint and making of images like those found in rock painting.


Unedited video on Rock Painting Tools
as demonstrated by Mr Om Prakash Sharma (Kukki ji)

We continued our walk and then halted at a spot, which could be easily missed by any passer by. There was a pile of branches / twigs lying on what seemed the edge of the plateau. To our surprise, Mr. Sharma started to remove them to reveal a rocky opening to the ‘site’. It took me sometime to gather my strength to get down that opening. Once I did it, all was fine  …. the rock shelter in the 200+ ft deep seemed pretty adventurous and interesting.

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In the rock shelter we had the first experience of seeing prehistoric rock art! The gyaan shared above will now help you all decode / understand the paintingsI have numbered some drawings to ease figuring it out basis the description shared (some drawings are now very light so may not be easily recognizable)

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Om Prakash Sharma (Kukki) with one of his many discoveries, the Bhimlat Rock Painting site

Kukkiji shared with us the interesting way he discovered this shelter way back in 2003. He kept seeing this place in his dreams and one fine day he went back again to this spot. There was nothing visible on the rocks but something about the dream did not let him give up. He took water from a bottle he and his friend were carrying and tried cleaning a portion of the rock. Lo and behold it revealed some drawings which at that point neither understood!

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This drawing shows two Neelgai /Asian antelope (Drawing 1&2) back to back. A leg of one of the antelopes (Drawing 2) is caught in a mesh/trap (Drawing 3). The Hunter in a joyous mood (Drawing 4)

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In Drawing 1, a tall man (maybe of an African origin basis height) is seen along with a humped bull. Drawing 2 is of a fishing net. In Drawing 3 we can see people in clothes probably dancing. Drawing 4 (three of them) are those of daggers. This might be the Chalcolithic stage and thereafter (ref clothing, metal daggers etc)

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In this set Drawing 1 depicts a probable hunting scene or depiction of art of hunting. There is a man with bow and arrow along with a man with lasso trying to hunt an animal. There is another man trying to scare off an animal.

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Another aspect about the man with the bow an arrow (Drawing 2), as shared by Mr Sharma, is that he is scared as his legs are shaking. Drawing 1 throws a light on the practice of shamanism by the prehistoric man. The image is probably of a shaman holding a staff /spear, a bow-arrow and a bag that may be having ritual ingredients / magic potion.

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This painting is the clearest. Drawing 3 is of a dead / hunted animal which both the people (drawing 2) and tigress (drawing 1) want to eat. Their pose may be interpreted in two ways – one, they are dancing with joy after the hunt which means food; two, trying to scare off the tigress who has come to eat the hunted animal  Again note the height and body structure of the woman right in front of the tigress. She is probably of an African origin. Another thing that reflects in drawing 2, is a couple of human figures perhaps wearing some animal skin over their shoulder. Drawing 5 shows the huntsmen probably chasing the tigress to kill her.

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Drawing of a spotted deer

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Probable drawing of a bovine (tail portion is clear) using white colour

This experience not only introduced me to rock art but also enriched my knowledge about it. I hope to see more such sites in India belonging to different era !

Om Prakash ji is doing his bit to keep the place safe from human interference (remember camouflaging of the entrance shared earlier?) so that the drawings remain intact for a longer time. Unfortunately, owing to its easy accessibility more often than not one can see signs of people visiting and shamanism being practiced. If you refer to the bovine figure in white, the rock roof is covered in soot. We found the remains of bonfire and earthen diyas there. While talking about his rock paintings on the whole, he shared that some paintings are clear as they are well sheltered naturally and safe from human interference. Then there are some that are pretty faded and you may need to strain your eyes to see them. This is because the natural vegetation coverage is no longer there and there is proof of people visiting these shelters as its accessible.

Important to note is, though these sites have been shared / visited and documented with the relevant organizations there is still no conservation being done.


Unedited video on Bhimlat Rock Paintings
as explained by its ‘discoverer‘ Om Prakash Sharma (Kukki ji)

 

Kukkiji has been awarded by, the then President of India, Mrs. Pratibha Patil for his contribution in discovering more than 76 rock painting sites. The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is said to have given him the status of an ‘honorary archaeologist‘ for all his pursuits and priceless discoveries.

He has also been recognized by National Center for the Arts, New Delhi & World Rock Art Society from France for his work. His findings / discoveries are documented by the Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts, the Indian Rock Art and Research Centre, Nasik, and the State Archaeological Department, Jaipur. There are numerous coverage of his rock paintings shelters in the print media. In fact, it is said that the well known rock painting expert, Mr Ervin Neumayer from Austria, had verified the sites at Bundi.

 

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HAPPY  TRAVELLING!
Monika Ohson / TravelerInMe

 

The Hidden Jewel of Rajasthan, Blue City Bundi!

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A panoramic view of the blue city Bundi with Garh Palace and Taragarh Fort in the backdrop!

He: I need a break! Let’s go somewhere
She: (super excited) How many days? (the mind saying –do not waste time, grab the opportunity and plan)
This is a typical scenario that is so relatable to working people 🙂 and this is also how it all began.

This time around I wanted to travel to some less or unexplored places. With a little bit of research (read forts & palaces being the selection criteria) I narrowed down to Bundi and Jhalawar! A few may have heard about Bundi but Jhalawar is least known. Once you read my posts on them you will understand why I chose them 🙂

About Bundi
The city is part of the Hadoti region of Rajasthan. The Hadoti region comprises of Kota, Bundi, Jhalawar and Baran. In earlier days this was known as the Bundi Kingdom. Geographically this region is well placed with the Marwar & Malwa plateau and Aravallis hills surrounding it. River Chambal and many of its tributaries flow into this region making the soil fertile, making it the green region of Rajasthan.

In ancient times Bundi and its surrounding places was inhabited by many local tribes, of which the Meena tribe was the most prominent. In fact the city was named after the Meena tribal king Bunda Meena. Later on, in mid 1300s Rao Deva Hada of the Hada Rajput took Bundi from Jaita Meena and renamed the area as Haravati or Haroti.

Coming back to our trip, we had reached Bundi in the wee hours of morning and found the place safe to commute. Tuk Tuks are easily available and you will find stationed policemen at regular distance.

Below is a brief peak into what all one can do in Bundi. An individual post on most of them shall follow soon, one by one, so remain glued 😀


Explore Bundi

The city retains its old world charm, simplicity and slow pace. Narrow lanes, blue houses, colorful turbans and bright attires of women adding splashes of colors here and there. It is a less visited place by the domestic tourists (unlike to a few predictable places of Rajasthan) though quite popular with the foreign tourists.

The place has some fantastic architectural as well as artistic delights like the Garh or Bundi Palace; Chitrashala; Taragarh Fort; over 50 baoris or step well among which Rani ji ki baori is the most well maintained and visited; Dabhai ka Kund. Other attractions are the Nawal & Jait sagar; Sukh Mahal & Museum; 84 pillared centopah and some other monuments like Phool Sagar, Kshar Bagh & Shikhar Burj which are personal property of the descendants of the royal family thus out of touristy domain.


Garh or Bundi Palace,
is built over a side of the hill. If you see it from the fort (higher above) it seems like it is hanging. Rudyard Kipling described it as ‘the work of goblins rather than of men’

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Chitrashila or Ummed Mahal of Bundi  is a beautiful gallery of Rajasthani miniature murals. The walls and the ceiling are covered with murals. This is the only monument under ASI in the fort and palace complex. Seen here L-R Gajendra, the king of the elephants being rescued by Lord Vishnu & the layout map of Nathdwara temple with Shrinath ji

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Taragarh Fort is built on top of a steep hill overlooking the city. Also refereed to as the ‘star’ fort. The trek uphill to the fort can be taxing for those not physically fit 😀

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Dabhai Ka Kund is also known as the ‘jail kund’ and resembles an inverted Egyptian Pyramid. ‘Kund’ means “tank or small reservoir in which rainwater is collected”

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Explore Bhimlat

Bhimlat is ~35 kms from Bundi and lies in the Bhilwara District of Rajasthan. The place is steadily finding its way up as an attraction around Bundi for its wetlands, canyons, water falls and cave rock paintings.

Its interesting to note that Hadoti is a second home for the migratory birds from China, Russia, Ladakh and other European countries. During monsoon the Bhimlat Wetlands is fully submerged in water. The migratory birds are seen both during monsoon and winter. We saw pelicans, storks, drongo, Indian Roller and cranes.

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Bhimlat Canyons, is a long stretch of rugged and rocky terrain surrounded by dry plateau forest. We had a long walk along it to the cave & fall – a good mix of information & adventure.

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Bhimlat Cave Rock Painting (Kukki’s site) was an exclusive experience! We saw one of the cave rock paintings site with its ‘discoverer‘. Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is said to have given him the status of an ‘honorary archaeologist‘  Read about it here

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Bhimlat Waterfalls, is a sight to behold in the monsoon. The water to the falls reaches from a dam near a lake. By the time its winter the falls reduce (ref pic: you can see only a small portion of it now)

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Explore Bijolia

Bijolia Group of Hindu Temples namely Mahakaal, Hazareshwar and Undeshwar Temples. These temples dedicated to Lord Shiva are ~800 yrs old (12th century). Bijolia is located ~55 kms from Bundi and comes in the Bhilwara District.

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Bijolia Group of Hindu Temples

 

The Stay

We stayed at Bundi Haveli, a well kept heritage property with close proximity to most of the monuments and impeccable service. Know more about it and our stay here

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One of the rooms (suite style)

 

Others

Nawal Sagar, is an artificial lake that can be seen from the Taragarh Fort. There is a half-submerged temple of Lord Varun Dev in its centre. One can relax at one of the eating joints around it and soak in the view of the city, fort and palace along with their reflection in the sagar.

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A view of the Nawal Sagar. (do you see some garbage floating in the water… its shameful we cannot keep our surroundings clean. Even the less visited places have litter!!)

 

Sukh Mahal is located on the periphery of Jait or Sukh Sagar (Lake) and was built by Umed Singh. Rudyard Kipling had once stayed and written a part of ‘Kim’ here. There is a folklore that states that the old palace and Sukh Mahal are connected through an underground tunnel. It is said that this palace was built for princes’ “indulgences“. Somehow this place did not appeal to me and I guess one can give it a miss if there are better options to utilize time.

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We were unfortunate and highly disappointed to have missed Rani ji ki Baori which was under renovation hence tourists were not allowed. I wish they had planned it in such a way so as to avoid the tourist season. On a positive note, maybe another trip to Bundi is slated haha haha!

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Pic thru’ Google Search

 

Now I will let some photos speak:

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I could not stop clicking and admiring the beautiful sunset enroute to Bundi from Bijolia

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A young school going Bhil boy had decorated his home wall with many such drawings!

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The vast Bhimlat plateau forest….. the amount we walked for a fun experience!

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The blue city with narrow lanes, blue houses and slow paced life

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Every now and then you will come across men with colorful turbans

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The Hadoti region is agrarian based with main source of income being agriculture. Hard to believe its Rajasthan 🙂  Look how green it is!!

 

….and, if you like what you just read, do ‘like it’ & ‘share it’. Non WordPress users please ‘rate’ it to express your appreciation 🙂 Also do not forget to ‘follow the blog’ to remain updated about newer posts ❤ 


HAPPY  TRAVELLING!
Monika Ohson / TravelerInMe