Showing posts with label Rocks. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Rocks. Show all posts

MP Diaries: Bhimbetka, A gateway to Ancient Civilisation

Long ago, during one of our visits to Hampi, we were fortunate to visit the pre-historic site of Anegundi (Koppal district), Karnataka. Ever since then, our interest with regards to pre-historic cave paintings only grew and any search relevant to pre-historic cave paintings in India would lead us first to the site of Bhimbetka in Madhya Pradesh. Though visiting Bhimbetka did not happen too soon, we have had a chance to visit many such interesting sites in Karnataka. Bhimbetka is India's most renowned pre-historic site  and unlike other sites across India, this place has been very well documented and studied even today. Bhimbetka is the largest pre-historic site in India and the only such to have been inscribed on the list of UNESCO world heritage sites. This place was under continuous human occupation from lower Paleolithic period till the early 19th century AD.
On the 29th of December 2016, we drove down from Mandu to Bhopal, via Indore and Dewas. A good six hour drive brought to us Bhopal. It was around 2 am and our hunt for accommodation at this hour brought us to Hotel Midland. After a hard bargain, we negotiated a good deal and settled down for the night. We woke up considerably late the next morning after getting the much needed rest. We were ready to hit the road again after a quick Poha and Sev for breakfast. In an hour we reached Midway Retreat, located 3 km away from Bhimbetka. A cup of hot tea was only thing in between us and the cave paintings. The book of Bhimbetka-World Heritage Series quotes, "Bhimbetka's uniqueness lies not only in the concentration of its antiquity and art, and the wealth that it conceals, but that it has not remained frozen in time and space. Elements of this continuity are manifest in the creative expressions that show affinity to great antiquity in the traditional lifestyles of the adivasis of the area integral to Bhimbetka and the surrounding region". There are over 1400 rock shelters here, of which about 700 carry cave paintings, while only 15 among them are open to the public. The rest are located inside the Ratapani Wildlife Sanctuary. The 15 rock shelters are prefect representatives of Bhimbetka.
Welcome to Bhimbetka
Rock Shelter No.1 - This shelter has a few paintings mostly of historic period. Here we can see the paintings of two elephants and a bull, wounded by the arrow of a hunter.
Paintings in Rock Shelter No.1
Rock Shelter No.3 - This cave is also called as the 'auditorium cave' due to this long shape. This shelter has paintings of bull, buffaloes, deer, peacock, left hand print of a child and many such. There are many cupules (depressions) on stone, probably associated with Paleolithic period.
Pre historic paintings Bhimbetka
Paintings in Auditorium Cave
Left Hand Print of a Child
Rock Shelter No.4 - This shelter is known as the 'zoo rock' and is the most important rock shelter here. There are 453 figures here, comprising of 252 animals of 16 species. The paintings here belong to the Mesolithic, Chalcolithic and historic periods. There are as many as ten layers of super-imposed paintings which is a unique and the most important feature of this cave.
Cave Paintings Bhimbetka
Zoo Rock 
Rock Shelter No.6 - This shelter contains beautifully depicted, natural looking animal drawings, group of dancers, drummers and horse riders in white color. An interesting drawing is that of a group of dancers in a line, shown with interlocking hands.
Row of Dancers 
Rock Shelter No.7 - This shelter contains paintings of horse riders and a row of deers in stylized form, belonging to historic period.
Men Riding Horse and Carrying Weapons
Rock Shelter No.8 - This is one of the important shelters here and the only one comprising  drawings of scorpions, fowls and other insects. This is a two storeyed cave with paintings all across its ceilings. There is a scene depicting seven cavaliers accompanied by three foot soldiers, a horse, an old woman, a panther, a jungle fowl, two chicks and insects. Other paintings here exhibit various scenes of hunting, dancing,  and other daily rituals.
Paintings of Rock Shelter No.8
Rock Shelter No.9 - The only shelter here having paintings depicted in green and yellow colors. Most of the paintings here belong historic period. There are paintings of a horse, an elephant and a flower pot.
Horse Painting
 Flower Pot Painted in Yellow
 Rock Shelter Nos.2,5,10 - These shelters carry only one painting each.
Painting in Rock Shelter No.2
Rock Shelter No.11 - The paintings of this shelter depict scenes from war, most of them showing men on horses carrying swords or spades.
War Scenes
Rock Shelter No.12 - This is another interesting shelter with an attractive composition of 38 animals drawn, along with various other paintings.
Paintings of Rock Shelter no.12 
Rock Shelter No.13 - There are a few paintings here depicting humans engrossed in there daily activities.
Humans Engrossed in Their Daily Activities
Rock Shelter No.14 - There are few paintings of animals, the most beautiful of them is that of a horse painted in white and decorated with a honeycombed pattern.
Horse Decorated With Honeycombed Pattern
Rock Shelter No.15 - This shelter is also called as the 'boar rock' due to the presence of a huge painting of a mythical boar like animal chasing a human. Apart from this, many other animals and humans are depicted in the shelter here.
Mythical Boar Like Animal Chasing a Human
Entrance Fee: Rs.50/- per head for Indian Citizens and Rs.200/- per head for others. Rs.250/- for car entry including parking.
Distance from nearby major town: 45 km from Bhopal.
Accommodation: The only option for accommodation at Bhimbetka is Midway Retreat maintained by MPSTDC. A better idea would be to plan for an overnight stay at Bhopal.
Where to eat: Midway Retreat is the only closest option here for food and drinks. There are a few eateries after we reach the highway which is about 4 km from Bhimbetka rock shelter. Carry enough water as there are no facilities for the same once you enter the rock shelter.
1. Bhimbetka - World Heritage Series by ASI.

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Apsarakonda Falls and Caves

 Nestled on the edge of a hill and lined by a beautiful beach, this serene waterfall lies hidden amidst thick vegetation in Honnavar taluk of Uttara Kannada district. As we had halted in Honnavar one night, we decided to visit Apsarakonda the next morning. We left early in the morning thinking that the place may get crowded with people and also since early mornings are a good time to sight birds. 'Apsarakonda' means 'Pond of an Angel'.
Ready To Fall
After parking our vehicle, we walked up to reach the park entrance. There were no directions to the waterfall anywhere initially at the park and also since there was nobody to give us any information, we just walked ahead hoping to sight a sign board somewhere along. There were steps that lead us to a beautifully developed park though there were no signs of any waterfall yet. Luckily, the birds at the park kept us busy for quite sometime as the day started to get warmer.  Finding a way out of the park, we reached a point from where there was a way down and another way up! While my partner chose to rest at that point, I decided to go down and check the way out. A few minutes down, I reached a temple from where I could also hear the sound of the waterfall. Excited! I was. Walking a little further , I saw a few steps that led to the waterfall. Quickly backtracking,  I called for my partner who joined me mid-way and both of us reached the waterfall. Equally amazed on seeing such a beauty, we eagerly jumped into the waters and enjoyed the touch of those waters. It was calm and cool with just the nature and us. 
Seat Decorated With Sea Shells 
Steps To Bliss
Pond of  An Angel
Apsarakonda Falls
Hereon, we went on to explore the Pandava caves. We found two such caves, small in size, and guessed there would be many more.
Pandava Caves
Apsarakonda Beach
Paddy Fields
Monsoon Blossom 

Break Fast Time

In Search of Bhima's Gym- Tekal Hill Kolar

 We were completely dehydrated and hungry and to top it, time was running out and there was no mobile signal. If it got dark, if we don't find a way out, if nobody hears us when we shout for help!, many such weird thoughts crossed our minds. Our guides had also mentioned about the sightings of panthers and bears in and around after dark. My wife suggested we call the local police and inform them that we were trapped. I told her to relax for a while and think calmly of what could be done. After a few arguments between us, we decided to go back to that 12 feet rock and see if we could do something. No support, no ropes, only the pile of rock visible and very well knowing that it was the only way out for us now, we couldn't lose hope. Somehow, we don't know how, but we had to get to that pile.My wife took my support, climbed over me and got through. I, till today cannot believe I made it to the top, climbing that 12 ft rock.  It was nothing less than a miracle for us. God was on our side. It was the best experience we had. Our clothes were torn, we were dehydrated and hungry, but having no time to think of all that we quickly followed the pile of rocks and moved further.
  At times, the escape route between the rocks were so small, a heavily built person would surely get stuck in between. Now, it hit us why the men initially warned us about exploring the hill. But since we had made it, we could take the credit of going against their advice. The drama was not over yet. Though we missed a few piles in between, we were successful in finding the next that followed and by now gained the knack of moving ahead in the right direction. We were lost many times inside but we managed to get back on track. After all, our few years of experience in trekking and exploring had to favor us. It was around 4 pm and we were still following the pile of rocks. It seemed never ending. We knew we were in the right direction of descent as the temple down seemed to come closer by! A last step outward from the cave lead us to light. Yes, we were out of that scary rocky-terrain now. We had to surpass thorny shrubs and dense outgrowth to reach the temple. Looking back, we figured out the initial point of climb that the tiller had told us about. It would've been impossible for our to trace this point at the start of  climb. And that too, with nobody helping us to the start point, the thought of starting from there never arised. We thanked god for being with us. We almost looked like rag-pickers at the end of the evening. An another adventure that was to follow was to find fuel for our bike!
  Finally we found some food for all of us, including our bike. Thus, we ended our adventure turned misadventure, that taught us much which will be always helpful in all aspects of life and proving many old proverbs right. We also realised our potential and came to know we are no less than Jackie Chan ( a few of jumps across the rocks and crawls beneath the caves definitely matched his caliber).
View of Tekal Hill  
According to the legend, while the Pandavas were in exile, Bhima had chosen this cave as his shelter where he fulfilled his daily chores. One day, it so happened that Bhima on realizing the difficulty of the villagers in removing weeds from their fields,  approached them and promised to de-weed all their fields and in return got a cart full of paddy grains. The husk of these paddy grains can still be seen today at the cave. Unfortunately, we could not witness this place as it was  encroached by innumerous bats.
  Just while we were leaving, a local shop-keeper mentioned about another cave known  as  "Rokkada Gavi" or the 'cave of treasure' in the neighboring hill. So............

In Search of Bhima's Gym, Tekal Hill, Kolar

 Bhima's Gym or Bhimana Garadi is a very big cave where Bhima (one of the Pandavas from the epic of Mahabharata) practiced warfare.One Sunday early-morning, we decided to explore this hill, which is located about 17 km from Kolar. We spoke to one of our friends and collected some information about this place. We left to this place early morning so that we could come back early as this seemed a small hill to explore. This time, we chose to bike-ride (motor cycle) as it was close-by and it had been long since we went on a trip with out two-wheeler friend!. On reaching Tekal and inquiring a shop  keeper about the route to Bhima's Gym, he gave us directions and additionally advised us not to explore as he thought it was really difficult to reach there and even though we reached, the lady with  you  will  surely not make it.  For a second, I thought if I can definitely do it,  then my partner in crime can do it better! We came closer to hill and again inquired a person, who was surprised to hear that we wanted to go to Bhima's gym. After a pause, he gave us directions and told us to be cautious and advised us to take a local person along who would be well versed with the routes and the place whereabouts.
Mid-way View of Tekal Hill
Now that we reached the base, our only question was from where to start our trek!? It seemed like there was no said-route to the hill-top. A last and final query lead us to a temple, where we parked our bike (which  unfortunately ran out of fuel just as were riding towards the temple) and looked out for a reasonable starting point.  Last but not the least, another query was enough to lead us into confusion regarding the point of start of climb. We met a person who was tilling his land and told us to go back to the temple as the climb begins near the temple and follow directions based on a  pile of three stones kept  at regular intervals (an intriguing clue it was!)and to take a guide along. Basically, we were being tossed from here-to-there on a regular basis for about 2-3 times between the temple and the tiller's land!! and then Alas!!
 Since we failed badly in getting any guide, we decided to explore the hill on our own, which was partly a really stupid decision, which we realized only later. As it was a small rocky hill, we gauged the level of trek would be medium-difficult and we can make our own way to the cave. As we climbed slowly on the rocks and moved further, we found the rocky terrain quite difficult to trek. The terrain was as though huge boulders of rocks were just placed next to each other and above one another to create deep spaces between them, it was scary to even look down! As we proceeded, we went through the inside of caves, sometimes over the rocks, and as time passed we reached a point from where we could not find a route further.We were lost. As it was quite sunny that day, and the trek itself was tiring enough, we rested a while.  As we discussed how to go about now, we heard two boys chatting and inquired them about the route. Though they were initially not that confident, they decided to join us to the cave. It became a 4 member team exploration now! Jumping over and crawling beneath the rocks and caves, we reached a place full of trees, from where the two boys also were unaware of the route.
We climbed a tree that seemed not climbable at first and what an experience!.  We climbed and passed over the tree and besides, the boys were running out of time since they had go home to take their cattle for grazing. We insisted that they can take leave once we reached  Bhima's gym. They kindly responded and   agreed  and lead us to the cave. On reaching the entrance of the cave, we realized the it was a huge cave and one of boys innocently joked that a big joint family can live here happily (what a thought!). The cave had thousands of bats which proved a hinderance in exploring the cave to the fullest. We saw the marks made by  Bhima while practicing  warfare. Our camera too ran out of battery. As we were busy figuring out the way and following our express guides, our camera did not have much work to do and so we didn't miss it much.
Following our Express Guides
Since the boys were in a real hurry, they bade us good-bye and left without waiting for us! Fair enough, we thought. Also since we had reached that far, we thought the descent would be possible by us. Without any morning break-fast, we were hungry to the core now and had also finished drinking all the water we had carried.  The arrows at the cave directed out towards the exit and following those, we reached up till a certain point , from where we unable to find the way ahead.  We tried all possible paths but in vain. Atlast, somehow by chance, at some corner, we  spotted a pile of three rocks! It struck our minds all of sudden about what the tiller said. It gave a sigh of relief to know  we were somewhere close by to being on the right track. From here, we decided and followed the pile of rocks. We proceeded further and every now and then found the pile. Suddenly, for a long distance the pile seemed missing or we had missed the pile. We did not find the rock pile. We began to run in all directions to find the way out but all our attempts seemed futile.   Finally, we sighted a  pile on top of a rock that seemed impossible to climb (Place A). We tried to find the way to reach that pile of rock using different ways but of no use. We then decided to trace our way back to the gym as there was another route from main cave to reach to the base from the other side. After some time on our way back to the gym,  we stepped inside a cave and then blank! Lost, we were. Neither here, nor there.
Some Marks Inside the Cave Made by Bhima
Inside of the Cave
Bats! Bats!!  Up, Above and Everywhere!

Misadventure continues..................

Pillow Lava-World’s Oldest Rocks – Mardihalli, Chitradurga

 ‘Mardihalli’ is one among the 26 National Geological Monuments of India (GMI), and is being maintained by the Geological Survey of India (GSI). Though we were aware of the existence of this place and have traveled many a times through this route, we had never made an effort to visit this place. This time around, we made a conscious effort to explore this place and drove towards the village of Mardihalli in Chitradurga. We reached the village without any difficulty. A couple of enquiries lead us to a small rocky hillock near the village.  The catch now was to sight, or rather spot the old rocks.  
Welcome To Mardihalli
Pillow Lava
Pillow Lava

Rock Piles
        Though we were directed rightly towards the rocky hillock, there was none who gave us proper directions to the old rocks and we assumed that the rocks we were seeing were the ones we had come in search of, until we found a few sign boards belonging to the GSI confirming the same. The information board reads, “This is one of the best preserved Pillow Lava surviving in the world. The Pillow Lava rocks are formed when hot molten lava erupts under water and solidifies in the form of roughly spherical or rounded pillow-shape. The Lava gets chilled so suddenly that, part of the flow separates into discrete rounded bodies a few feet or less in size. This Pillow Lava has been dated 2500 million years”. The shepherd we met on the hillock also said that occasionally people   visit this rock from foreign countries in order to study it. This being one of the 4 GMI sites in Karnataka, the others are located at Lalbagh (Bangalore), St Mary’s Island (Udupi) and Peddahalli (Kolar).
Pillow Lava Rock
GSI Board
Information Board