Oct 2, 2013

Birappa Rock Shelter, Kappagallu

March 7, 2013
Beerappa rock shelter as seen from Dolerite dyke at Hiregudda, 1.7 km straight line distance. It was our host Ramadasa's suggestion to visit the rock shelter to see prehistoric rock paintings.

Evidence of quarrying sticks out. I wonder why quarrying happens mostly at or near important historical sites.

The journey from Hiregudda to Birappa rock shelter was rather a long one with the route passing through Kappagallu village where we had a brief stop. We bought some bananas and a dry snack. Also we found a tap with running water, we cooled ourselves.. what a relief from the heat! We must have traveled 8 km. And here we are looking at Beerappa rock and part of Hiregudda in the background. The tall rock on the right is damaged.

 We go clockwise around the rocks. The entrance to the shelter is in the middle.

The shelter is formed by two slanting faces, though it looks small in the picture it's quite spacious inside. The two paintings seen here are huge, the largest I've ever seen.

That's Rama Dasa our host from Sanganakallu. This rock painting is at least 5' high however, we have no idea what it depicts.

The other painting is equally large in terms of area. Local folks perform rituals here including slaughtering chicken to appease the Gods.

 We go around the rocks, it was no easy task of dodging thorny bushes and loose soil.

These rocks are covered with faded and damaged paintings depicting mostly animals including fishes. We are looking at one of the boards having several paintings (click on image to enlarge it).

This seems to be an ox or a cow. The head looks like a goat's.. no it's a cow. What do you say?

This must be a peacock, I'm not sure.

Paintings disfigured by stains.

This is another board with many paintings. As you see part of the rock is missing. I guess some of the paintings have been lost here.

This is one of the larger drawings in good condition but I have no clue what it depicts.

Clueless again.

Quoting abstract of Metanarratives and the (re)invention of the Neolithic, a case study in rock-art from Birappa Rock Shelter and Hiregudda Hill by David W. Robinson, Ravi Korisettar, and
Jinu Koshy: Rock-art reflects cultural narratives and is influential as a medium in the invention of narratives. Images found in South-Central Indian rock-art are particularly useful in considering archaeological transitions. Rock-art here shows a chronology spanning the Mesolithic, Neolithic, Megalithic, Historic, and Modern times. Imagery reflects changing human/animal relationships, from `agile' hunted animals to cattle and its domestication, with rock-art an active medium in the creation of new metanarratives focused obsessively upon bulls. While bulls in the singular appear early, later compositional elements imply a growing concern with ideas of herds as interconnecting communities. Through time, panels were focal points for the addition of subsequent anthropomorphic imagery, further reinventing the Neolithic. A Historic period efflorescence of densely applied rock-art perhaps reflects an appropriation of a locality redolent with the past as new mythologies were invented in the ancestral association with the now millennia-old Neolithic rock-art.

Here's a video by Malatesh-


It was sad to see an important site being damaged this way. Anyway.. we head back to Sanganakallu. We thank Rama Dasa for his time and leave for Bellary. Today's tour was just a preview of Sangankal-Kapgul neolithic site. It's my wish to come back and spend couple of days and explore the hills from morning to evening.. spend time where our ancestors lived. They were much smarter than what we are.

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