Dec 26, 2012

Kutkankeri, a prehistoric site - part 2

..article continued from Kutkankeri, a prehistoric site - part 1.

This rock is known by the name Junjunpadi. The word can be split into Junjun + Padi. Junjun is the short form for Junu Junu which is an expression for anything that feels chilly. Fakirappa said weather under this rock is always cool, sometimes cold hence the name Junjunpadi.
The approach ramp is scattered with rocks.. an abandoned plan to make steps like we saw some time back. We climbed about 20 feet to reach the natural rock shelter.
A spacious, comfortable shelter. Fakirappa's nephew Rangappa joins us. He's taken a short break from cultivating his fields with a pair of oxen. Minutes later another relative Basu joins in.
The shelter gave a commanding view of the plains below. Approximately a kilometer from here, beyond the plains, is another hill range. To the right end of the range was a big cave. Fakirappa confirmed the existence of a cave. I asked if we could go there.. Fakirappa said the cave smells bad because of decaying remains of carcasses and bones left over by  Kattekiraba. So that cave is hyenas' den. I said we'll go there some other time... perhaps we should go there in a larger group armed with long sticks for self defense.
At the entrance is one painting of a horse and two men.
The men seems to be wielding swords and shields. The man seems to be standing on the horse back rather than being seated on it.
Ten to fifteen feet into the shelter is another painting. This seems to be a battle scene; men wielding weapons and riding horses
Basu, Rangappa and Fakirappa. The boys are wondering why we wanted to see these paintings.
About 40 meters away is another rock shelter.. now its shrine for local folks. Here we could see the entire surface covered by ocher, most parts have faded and difficult to identify what was depicted. To add to it local people had smeared sunna lime in circles.Fakirappa said that its a smearing lime is a part of the ritual. However, he was not happy about the paintings getting damaged.
One part we could see clearly was here. This seems to be a plant, perhaps a bunch of buds and flowers. The painting on the left seems to be a horse.
Wish I could know what these lines depict.
We decide to on. We climb again, we come here to check out another rock shelter. It was inaccessible.  Fakirappa demonstrates how a cactus' long pointed leathery leaves were used to make rope. He pucks a leaf, peels off the outer layer and thrashes it on a flat surface to separate the fiber in it. But this is not the right procedure., he says. The process involves soaking the leaves overnight, then clear off the pulp from the fiber, dry them and weave them into ropes.
At the summit, a huge mound came into view. This would have been a great watch tower during prehistoric time.
Close to this mound I saw three stones lying close to each other. I felt they were one stone; Malatesh and Fakirappa placed them in position. Yes, it was one stone measuring about 6 feet long and a feet wide, tapering at one end.

A mini shelter. Right besides Malatesh, you can see vertical and horizontal crack lines perpendicular to each other. They seem to be have been drawn.. but no they are natural.
What came next was unexpected. Fakirappa showed us remains of a vandalized megalithic burial chambers. There were three of them within a 150' diameter circle.
Fakirappa said that people believe these to be Muslim graves. I told him the fact that these graves are made two to three thousand years ago, they cannot be Muslim graves.
A recently dug pit.. treasure seekers' deed. The graves are completely damaged :(
We start climbing again. I could see Malatesh was struggling, I guessed hot weather was affecting him.   This part of the hill was littered with stones... no where on these hills had I seen anything like this. Was this a quarry?
At the hill top was another plateau. Another surprise; ruins of ancient stone structures. I remember seeing three or four such ruins in the close vicinity. So these stones must be from the place I suspected to be a quarry (see previous picture). There was evidence of recent digging, obviously treasure seekers work.
Fakirappa is proving to be one resourceful guide; so far he's shown us an amazing rock formations, prehistoric rock paintings, megalithic burial sites, and ruins of ancient houses. Now we are standing in front of a shrine where newly weds come and make a wish. During a particular festivals families come here with pooja and food items, perform pooja at the shrine and have food. Now the interesting part is how food is eaten. Plates or leaves are not used. A flat spot on the ground with a slight depression is selected (see inset). The spot is washed clean with water. Food, usually anna, saaru, palya, uppinkayi are served on that spot and eaten. Down to Earth custom. Some different, right? We scoured the surroundings and identified many such spots which served the purpose.
Kutkankeri is surprising us so often now.We are looking at underground fresh water pond; it is called as Aryara Baavi. Fakirappa explains that people believe that Aryans once lived on these hills and this was one of the main sources of drinking water. Hence it is called Aryara (Aryans) Baavi (well). Below  the ground we are standing on is hollow. Water is available through out the year, even during drought. I noticed a big patch of lush green grass about twenty feet away. Grass is green where there's water, right?
Fakirappa bends down and checks the water, tastes it and then drinks some. I too tasted Aryara Baavi water, it was fine but did not swallow it. Surely my tummy is not as strong as Fakirappa's.
We meet Fakirappa's uncle again; perched on his seat high up he watches his herd grazing peacefully. In a way this hill is his kingdom. Malatesh cools off his head with this water. Notice stones on the left? It's a micro dam, it stops rain water from running off and creates a small pond.
Now we start climbing down, I was kind of relieved that it would be easy for Malatesh. Fakirappa shows more sources of fresh water close by. Water is stored on cracks and crevices in rocks. Here, I see something very strange; a circle in stone. This 2½' diameter ring's rim is 2" wide x.5" high. This doesn't seem man-made. Then how is possible to have formed naturally? Fakirappa has no idea what this is or how this was formed.
A closer look at the ring. This looks like a stone ring was welded to the rock.
One megalithic burial chamber. On these hills we saw totally eight burial chambers.
Our tour was coming to a close. Last on the itinerary was ruins of a fort and few rock paintings. This picture is just outside the fort, close to the fort entrance. It's a very small fort, the perimeter could be less than a kilometer.
Inside the fort are these two massive rocks. Malatesh and Fakirappa are inspecting paintings, sadly they are vandalized by some college boys.
 
Painting depict a human form and an animal which looks like a tiger. Those vandals did not find any other place to post a love message for their girls.. GRRR One consolation, it wan't paint but lime. We tried to wash the lime off with water. After emptying on bottle we realized we'll need buckets of water and a soft tooth brush. perhaps we'll go back there one day and remove the lime. I hope those vandals realize the damage they have done.
Another angle of the rock. Behind me was a rock shelter, it was cool inside. We rested there for a while, had cookies and water. The village was in view now, we'll have to walk a kilometer to reach the village square.
The rout to cillage passed through fields, we walked through standing Sajji crop. We stopped at a field being watered by sprinklers to quench our thirst. Fakirappa picked up fresh Alsandikayi, we munched as we walked back towards Kutkankeri village. Back at the village square, we realized it was 2-30, we had explored five and half hours. Not a minute was wasted, we got to see more than we expected. Thanks to Fakirappa :) Oh one last thing, we had not seen two paintings from our print out. Fakirappa suggests us to check out Gund-Hanumappa a minute's drive from where we stood. We ask Fakirappa to join us for lunch but he declines. We exchange numbers and said bye. We head towards Gundu Hanumappa.
A Neem tree with hollow trunk.
Gund-Hanumappa is a 50 feet high.rock with a natural shelter at the base. The shelter is a shrine dedicated to Lord Hanuman. The shrine walls have been whitewashed with lime.. if at all any painting existed, they are nicely tucked under a thick layer of Sunna. Disappointed we move on in search of a nice shady spot for our lunch break.

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