photo essay: in search of bundi’s prehistoric rock paintings

Destination, or the journey? In travel, it is often hard put to distinguish between the two.

When I went to Bundi in Rajasthan a fortnight ago, I had no clue that merely 30 kilometres south of the town were 101 sites of prehistoric rock art painted 15,000 years ago. They were discovered by a one Mr. Kukkiji in 1997, who was to take me to the sites himself. What I knew less of was the charms of the paintings’ backdropβ€”the insides of caves lining tranquil wide rivers, on whose lush shores the Bhil, an Indian Adivasi tribal had made their homes.

Suspended in time, the Bhil lives are not much different from their ancestors who lived here before themβ€”millennia old cultures and rituals live on untouched in their everyday routines. In perfect harmony, and distinct in form and style, meanwhile, are the nomadic Rabari herders, draped in dazzling colours and jewels.

Throw in the warmth of these indigenous people, Savannah grasslands devoid of modern plastic, and the chirping of birds the only sound for miles, the journey becomes as mesmerising as the rock shelters of primordial man and woman in north-west India.

A photo essay on my journey and destination on a day of travel in Bundi. πŸ™‚


Traffic jam on the way to Gararda, my destination, 35 kilometres away from Bundi. Gararda falls midway in the prehistoric site.


Lunch at a tea-stall in Namana village. One of the most mouth-watering kachodis I have ever ever had in my entire life!


Almost like a painting. A Bhil woman with her laundry on the shores of the Chambal River tributary.


The chilled-out life. ❀


Tucked away on the insides of the caves hemming the tributary of the Chambal River are 101 sites filled with rock paintings, spanning a distance of 30 kilometres from Bijolia to Banki.


Painted in mineral colours, the rock paintings are 15,000 years old.


With deer, bison, and humans prodding their domestic animals on, they provide a vivid picture of daily life during the Mesolithic period.


The view that many a prehistoric man and woman would have looked out at from their homes.


The rock paintings of Bundi are strikingly similar, in content and technique, to those found in other Mesolithic cultures. It leads one to question if these cultures were perhaps in contact with each other across disparate continents.


Splash. I thought these two young men were paddling over the surface of the water. They were in fact walking over a low dam that stretched across the river.


Digital India in the Savannah grasslands of rural India. A Rabari nomadic herder with his sheep. Yup, he is on his cell-phone negotiating business deals. I went close enough to overhear. πŸ˜€


Happiness. Not the best of pictures because of the lighting, but god, the sheer joy on the faces of these Bhil children! The two in the beige shirts go to the local government school. The rest don’t.


And lastly, the Rabari woman I had tea with on my way back. Isn’t she beautiful?

– – –

Travel tips:

  • Guide: Kukkiji at Kukki’s World. His passion and knowledge of Bundi’s history and heritage is unmatched. Cell no. +91 98 2840 4527.
  • Staying there: I stayed at Hotel Bundi Haveli, a 300-year-old haveli converted into a hotel, through makemytrip.com. The rooms are gorgeous, the food in the in-house restaurant delicious, and the staff get my 5 stars for professionalism and warmth.
  • Getting to Bundi: I took the train from Delhi to Kotah, and a local bus from Kotah to Bundi.
  • Getting around: Auto rickshaws are plentiful. The city itself, however, is tiny enough to explore on foot. For the excursions, I was ferried around on Kukkiji’s motorbike.

29 thoughts on “photo essay: in search of bundi’s prehistoric rock paintings

    • Thank you! Nope, not long walks once you reach Gararda, but yeah, one needs to walk through shale to reach the caves. When I went 2 weeks ago it was pretty hot and I got BADLY burnt. The ultraviolet rays are strong in this area because of the clean air. A better time would be November-December, but it would also be more crowded as Bundi is popular with international tourists. When I went it was deserted. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Doreen, thank you for stopping by! πŸ™‚ How wonderful that you got to see the caves with Kukkiji as well. There is something pretty special about discovering the caves when you hear their story straight from the horse’s mouth.

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    • Yeah, I thought so too! It just doesn’t look real … But then all of that day had felt unreal. In fact when I was writing my journal once back in the hotel room, the first word I scribbled was “Surreal.” πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Pingback: 5 best kept secrets of bundi, india’s best kept secret | rama arya's blog

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