Prehistoric Rock Art

When we spent a few hours at Wayanad…

Wayanad conjures up images of lush green hills, terrace cultivation, tea gardens, and fresh spices. It’s a tiny little getaway located in the north-east of Kerala. We were at Kōḻikōḍ one weekend, when we decided to drop by Wayanad on our way back to Bangalore. Wayanad would anyway fall on the way and that very conveniently suited us. Our intention of stopping by Wayanad wasn’t the lush greenery though. It was the prehistoric rock engravings of Edakkal Caves, believed to have been incised between 4000 BC and 1000 BC, that interested us.

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At the mouth of Edakkal Cave

Situated about 4000 ft. above sea level Edakkal Caves can be reached through a flight of very steep man-made stairs. Edakkal literally means ‘stone in between’ as the cave is believed to have been formed by a big stone that fell in between two giant rocks. The flight of stairs up to the cave wasn’t easy and left us completely breathless. It was a Sunday and the place was exceedingly crowded, which only added to the difficulty.

Moreover, vehicles are not allowed near the cave entrance and one needs to walk uphill for about 30-45 mins to arrive at the cave entrance. The steep stairs start at the entrance.

The petroglyphs, however, made the climb worthwhile. There were human figures, animals, trees, wheels, geometrical symbols, etc. Such amazing creative expressions of man left us spellbound. We wondered what a test of patience and perseverance it must have been! All these figures haven’t been completely deciphered yet and are invaluable assets to archaeologists.

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As we drove away from Edakkal, we went to another place nearby, called Phantom Rock. It’s a metamorphic rock that supposedly resembles a human skull. We didn’t quite find the rock, instead landed on a tiny little lake that appeared to be cut out of the rocky surroundings. Needless to say, the lake with it’s stillness and moss-green water made us more than happy.

On our way back to Bangalore, we passed through Bandipur National Park, which falls in NH 766. It’s a stretch of about 10-15 Km. (just assuming, I don’t know the exact distance). As one might expect it was a beautiful stretch with jungle on either side of a straight tarred road. No vehicle is allowed to stop in the forest. If you’re lucky you may spot an elephant. We weren’t lucky enough but monkeys, spotted deer, bisons, and wild boars delighted us sufficiently.

We had crossed Bandipur on our way to Kōḻikōḍ too but that was early morning and we hadn’t seen any animals then. Moreover, we were really sleepy after having to wait for 2-3 hours in the car as vehicles are not allowed between 9 PM and 6 AM through the forest.
[So engrossed we were looking out for animals that we clicked no pictures.]

 

 

Author: neelstoria

Traveling, Gardening, Trekking, Hiking, Storytelling, Writing, Nature, Outdoors, Yoga, DIY

33 thoughts on “Prehistoric Rock Art”

    1. Yes IJK, you’re right about the uniqueness of Edakkal engravings. We did not spend any time at Wayanad. Our only interest was the cave for its petroglyphs. So no Wildlife Sanctuary this time. Also, we wanted to reach Mysore before 8.00 PM to see the lights at Mysore Palace, which is lit up only on Sundays for an hour. Have you seen that? It’s spectacular.

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  1. Thanks for sharing these stunning rock-art photos. The question is what will be left of our rapid digital culture in 5,000 years? So this ancient technique of stone carvings seems to be not primitive at all because visible till today.

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    1. So true, Ulli! We will have stuff on ‘cloud’, if at all and whatever that looks like and such a lot of it, that no one will care.
      It’s intriguing to think how much time would have gone into engraving even a small portion and the place is high up, even the stairs to reach were super steep. How they would have climbed up!

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      1. In 2004 I have seen a similar place in Italy called “Val Camonica” with 200,000 registered stone carvings (biggest place of such in the world) to be found also in the mountains. Here you find an example of it

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    1. Bhimbetka is also pretty famous for the prehistoric paintings. Please do share, would be interested to read your experience. Thanks so much for reading and leaving behind your thought.

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  2. Your post reminded me of the famous Bhimbetka Caves in MP, which also contains Stone Age rock paintings. I loved that experience as cave paintings are something found in very few places. Though there aren’t any steps to climb there. And now read about this.

    Had no idea that Kerala too has prehistoric cave paintings. Not seen any Kerala tourism ad on this, or read about it. Mostly the backwaters are advertised, and Munnar’s tea plantations. Anyway, nice to read that you had a wonderful time. I too love such places. And the location of that lake too makes for a great view – a lake cut in the rocks.

    You wrote about tea in Wayanad, but did you know that Wayanad is also famous for its coffee? In fact, about 90% of Kerala’s coffee is grown in Wayanad district. And this coffee also received a GI tag (certification) recently for its uniqueness.

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    1. Bhimbetka has rock paintings while Edakkal has rock inscriptions and that’s what makes it so unique. I believe rock engravings are rarer than paintings. It’s amazing to think about the instruments they might have used and also I wonder how they would have climbed up that steep hill.

      It’s true when you think of Kerala, its the green that you see – the green tea plantations of Munnar, the lush green backwaters, and also the sea and coconut trees. They should provide information of these petroglyphs as well. Many people aren’t aware.

      I am aware about the coffee, just missed mentioning. Didn’t know about the GI though. So, what is GI?

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        1. Yes, there were writings as well as engravings of various things like wheels, people, etc. A friend had bought a booklet being sold at the site, which mentions that the inscriptions are of a later period and are in Sanskrit and Brahmi script.

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      1. GI stands for ‘geographical inscription’. It is product and place-specific, and many countries have GI certifying authorities. Certifying a food or traditional work of art or sculpture or clothing, etc. as GI-certified or GI-tagged (‘GI tag’ is the term commonly used) legally recognises it’s unique value and that makes it illegal for someone from some other place to copy it and sell its as that same thing. Hence having a GI tag helps people traditionally associated with making something market the product as something unique and therefore profit from it in a legal manner.

        India’s GI certifying authority (a govt organisation) is based in Chennai. Here is the official link to Indian GI products: http://ipindia.nic.in/registered-gls.htm (¢lick on the PDF link)

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  3. I thought wayanad dotted with only lush green forests. Edakkal rocks which contain ancient petroglyphs is real surprise to me. Enjoyed the beautiful snaps. Though I visited Kerala, I missed Wayanad. Hope to visit soon!

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    1. I am happy to be able to bring something new to you. Next time you go to Kerala, do visit Wayanad and also Edakkal caves, if possible. Thank you so much for visiting and reading.

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