The image above is that of an antelope in a forest, next to a trap waiting to catapult it to its death. Nope. This is not somewhere in the interiors of France or Spain, more commonly associated with prehistoric art, or even in Bhimbetka where India’s prized rock art collection lies.
It is instead on the insides of a cave lining a tributary of the river Chambal in Gararda, Rajasthan, 35 kilometres from Bundi, my base a fortnight ago.
Painted 15,000 years ago in mineral colours, very few people know of it. Just a handful come from the far corners of the world to marvel at its beauty, and timelessness.
And if it were not for a local sweetmeat-shop-owner-turned-archaeologist, we would not know of it either. He discovered the site in 1997 and has passionately been creating awareness of it ever since, unearthing 101 caves festooned with prehistoric art to-date. His name is Kukkiji.
Perched atop his motorbike and off to the primordial caves of Gararda, we sliced through glistening emerald green rice paddies, sun-baked Savannah grasslands and a placid grey river, past local Bhil [the local Adivasi tribals] going about their daily chores. Our destination fell somewhere in the middle of the site spread over a distance of 30 kilometres from Bijolia to Banki.
Did I mention timelessness?
Because that’s what it is. The shamanistic rituals once celebrated within these caves live on in the Bhil lives. Those who once had their homes in the caves now have their descendants on the banks of the river. Nothing has changed. And that’s what makes it more beautiful.
Have you explored Bundi’s rock art? What was your experience like? Do share if you were one of those handful. 🙂