Historical story

Chapter-40 - Rock Paintings of India

Painting is the highest of the arts in which Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha are attained. Therefore, the presence of Mars is always considered in the house where the prestige of the pictures is high.

– Vishnudharmottara Purana.

The earliest evidence of painting in India comes from primitive caves. Primitive humans have depicted scenes of animals, birds, insects, lizards and human figures as well as dance, hunting, agriculture, animal husbandry etc. in caves from Ocher, Ramraj and Khadiya etc.

These paintings have been found at hundreds of places in different provinces of India. Located in the Vindhyachal hills of Madhya Pradesh, there is a cup-like painting in the Bhimbetka rock shelters, which is believed to be one lakh years old. In some places, paintings of Palaeolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic period have been found together in the same cave.

Rock paintings from Jammu and Kashmir province

In the Madani Mosque of Srinagar, 5000 years old rock paintings have been found on a piece of rock in which stars are made on one side and dragon-like head on the other end. The original fresco of this place has become blurred but a copy of it is kept in the University of Kashmir.

A rare phenomenon of Indian astronomy is depicted in this mural and two suns are shown together. The second Sun visible in this image is actually a supernova, which is the energy produced by the collapse of an older star. After a massive explosion, it appears bright for several days, which looks like another Sun. To show the Sun with the stars in this picture means that this supernova was still shining when the stars were shining at night.

Rock paintings from Uttar Pradesh

More than a hundred painted caves have been found in the valley of the Son river in the hills of Kaimur, 30 km from Mirzapur. In a hill, anthropomorphic figures with costumes made of feathers have been found, which are built on rough stone. In the Mirzapur region, Ghodmangar near Vijaygarh has been depicted hunting rhinoceros in complementary style. Pictures of 5000 BC have been found from places like Kohwar, Vijaygarh, Sauhriroup, Soorhoghat, Bhaldaria, Likhuniyan, Kandakot, Ghodmangar, Khodhwa etc.

Ancient rock paintings are also present in the hills named Mohrapathri, Bagapathri, Sahwaiyapathri, Lakhatpathri. Porcupine hunting, hand prints, human figures and animal paintings are present in the Soorhoghat area. The painting of a boar made of ocher in a cave is very famous. In this, the half-open mouth of the boar expresses its suffering. In the hills of Likhuniyan, beautiful rock paintings of primitive dance and playing are made. Some horsemen with long spears are shown trying to capture an elephant.

In Manikpur of Banda district, three horses have been depicted vigorously in rock paintings found from places like Sarhat, Karpariya and Kariyakund etc. A beaked man is seated at a furnished door, from which it is inferred that it must have been a tantra-mantra school. Kariyakund depicts stunners chasing a reindeer.

A cart without wheels is depicted in the rubble. In this one person is seated and two acolytes stand on either side of him holding bow and arrow and stick. In another picture, three cavalry equestrians are walking in the same direction holding their respective horses. From this it is inferred that this rock painting dates back to the time when the post-Vedic Aryans had spread to the hills of Mirzapur and the state system had become clear in them and powerful kings had come into existence.

Rock paintings from South India

Rock paintings of prehistoric age have been unearthed from Raichur, Kuppagallu (Bellary), Vasanavgudi (Bangalore), Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Chota Nagpur in South India. The time of the pictures obtained from the Ramayana period near the Rishyamook mountain, located near Raichur in Karnataka, dates back to BC. 3000 is assumed. Artistic boulders of the pre-stone age have been unearthed near Madras.

Rock paintings from Maharashtra

Paintings from the caves of Narsinghgarh in Maharashtra show the skins of Pied Deer drying up.

Rock paintings from Orissa

Stone paintings of prehistoric age have also been unearthed from Orissa.

Rock paintings from Madhya Pradesh

A large number of painted rock shelters have been found from places like Adamgarh, Raigarh, Chakradharpur, Hoshangabad, Singhanpur etc. of Madhya Pradesh. The cave paintings found from Chakradharpur are believed to be of 3000 BC. Prehistoric rock paintings have been found in about 50 caves in a radius of 5 miles near Pachmarhi. It is here that the scene of the hunting of Sambhar in the Tamarind cave near the Mahadev mountain, the scene of the lion hunting on the roof of the Bhaddev cave and the picture of a giant goat in the Mahadev market have been found.

Rock shelters containing rock paintings have also been found from places like Lashkaria Khoh, Sonbhadra, Jambudweep, Nimbu Bhoj, Baniya Beri, Madadeo, Nakia and Jhalai etc. Apart from animal and hunting pictures, pictures of arms-war, dance and playing have been found from here, scenes of daily life are also inscribed. The rock paintings here can be divided into three categories-

(1.) In the first level, plank-shaped and damrun-shaped human figures have been made, whose physical formation is shown by wavy lines. There is abundance of red (ocher) and yellow in them.

(2.) In the paintings of the second level, the morphology of the figures is unformed, vigorous and unbalanced. Only the hunter is depicted in these.

(3.) The figures in the third level are somewhat natural. There are pictures of domestic life in them. Going out for hunting, collecting honey, mounted warriors, players playing musical instruments, armed soldiers etc. have been depicted. In these pictures, the figures are made with red lines and they are filled with black and white colors.

Depictions of insects, animals, birds, humans and demon figures made of red-yellow colors have been found from Jogimara in the princely state of Surguja. Rock paintings from about 10,000 BC to 100 BC have been found in a valley on the banks of the river Asan near Pahargarh in Morena district, 150 km from Gwalior. In these pictures of humans, horses, warriors riding elephants, spears, bows and arrows have been found.

The rock paintings of Botalda caves near Raigarh in Madhya Pradesh depict deer, lizards, wild buffaloes etc. In one scene a group of humans are standing around a buffalo hunting it. Some of the paintings are of domesticated animals, warring humans and dancing humans. These paintings are made of brown colors like ocher and Ramraj.

In the Vindhyachal hills at a place called Bhimbetka, more than 200 caves have been found in pre-stone age rock paintings made by humans. The number of these paintings is several thousand. Their period is believed to be up to one lakh years ago. Deer, reindeer, boar, bear, wild buffalo, elephant, horse and equestrians have been marked in the caves of Bhimbetka.

In one picture, humans are shown dancing around a wild buffalo called 'hunting-dance' has been named. In some caves, paintings have also been found from the period when humans learned farming. In these, hunters, farmers and herders have been depicted.

In the paintings found from 30 caves found at a place called Mori in Mandsaur district, the markings of Surya, Chakra, Swastik, Sarbatobhadra, Ashtadal-lotus and Peepal leaves have been found, which is clear that religious rituals must have been performed in these caves and these paintings were done at that time. BC when the civilization had made substantial development and the settlements of the post-Vedic Aryans had reached here. Some of the paintings are of bamboo carts, dancing humans and shepherds.

In Hoshangabad district, two and a half kilometers from the Narmada river on the Adamgarh hill, more than a dozen rock shelters have been marked with wild buffaloes, horses, armed cavalrymen, elephant riders, etc. A group of giraffes and four archers are shown, which have been numbered by the method of interpolation. That is, after cutting the figures on a wooden plank and adjoining them to the wall of the cave, paint has been applied from above, due to which those figures have been inscribed on the wall.

In a cave in Adamgarh, a man mounted on an elephant is shown hunting a wild buffalo. In another picture, a reindeer is made leaping out of the deep yellow plinths. Rock paintings have been found from many places in Raisen, Rewa, Panna, Chhatarpur, Katni, Sagar, Narsinghpur, Bastar, Gwalior and Chambal valley of Madhya Pradesh. Primitive paintings have also been found in Dharampuri Guha temple, Shimlaril, Barkheda Sanchi, Udaygiri etc. in Bhopal region. Rock paintings have also been found near Shivpuri.

Fifty painted caves have been found from a village named Singhanpur on the banks of river Manth. An animal like a kangaroo has been marked at the entrance of a cave. Pictures of horse, deer, reindeer, wild buffalo, bull, trunk-lifted elephant, rabbit etc. have also been found from here. On the wall of a cave there is a scene of a wild bull being caught. Some animals are thrown in the air and some have fallen on the ground. Another painting on the same wall shows an injured buffalo tied with many arrows. Around him stands a group of spear hunters.

Picture obtained from rock shelters of Rajasthan

Rock paintings have been received from places like Ajitgarh, Dokan, Sohanpura, Gudhagaurji etc. of Shekhawati region in Rajasthan. Rock paintings of prehistoric times have been found at a place called Tiptiya in the Dara Sanctuary, 33 kilometers away from Rawatbhata. There is a three-storey rock shelter about 500 feet high above the earth, whose second and third floors are painted. Paintings of bulls, cows, deer, pigs and imaginary animals have been depicted in these rock paintings painted by the people of the Late Stone Age.

These paintings are dark brown and red in color and are drawn through lines. On top of many pictures of prehistoric times, pictures of historical period have also been made. Deities, warriors, horsemen and camel riders are prominent in the paintings of this period. These are made of yellow color and ocher. In the paintings of this period, scenes of cows grazing cows, Kahars carrying bride's dolls and dancing by a dancer are also mentioned, which clearly shows that human civilization had progressed a lot during this period.

A number of rock shelters have been discovered near Amjhiri Nala in Jhalawar district on the banks of river Ahu, in which paintings made by stone age humans can be seen. These paintings depict bull, deer, goat, reindeer, nilgai, cheetah, human figures, bow-arrow, animal-hunting scenes etc.