Dec 22, 2012

Kutkankeri, a prehistoric site - part 1

While searching for prehistoric paintings in Karnataka I stumbled on Kutkankeri in a very informative prehistoric web-portal The Megalithic Portal. The prehistoric paintings posted by an Israeli explorer were amazing. My mind was made up to visit Kutkankeri. I made inquiries and confirmed the location on Google Maps and also with my friend Ranganath at Badami. Kutkankeri is about 7 kms from Badami on Guledgudda road.

September 15, 2012
Raju the cab driver, Malatesh and I started early. We reached Badami by 7-45. We were supposed to meet a retired ASI employee who had seen Kutkankeri paintings on duty with a well known archaeologist of Karnataka. I tried to contact him through my friend Ranganath but there was no response. Perhaps, Ranganth was in his class already. I decided to go ahead and find a guide. Before that we had a good breakfast- upit, the power food.
We found Kutkankeri easily. I took out the print outs of the paintings, showed them to people so that they are clear about intentions. Few of them did recognize the drawings but some how no one was interested in coming. I was wondering how to convince.. a pleasent surprise; a man did come forward to take us :) Fakirappa was our guide. Few elderly men and Fakirappa discussed and decided  a route to cover all spots. However, he wanted to be back by 11 because of his job at a bank. I said fine, we'll make it quick. We took our bags and a water bottle. About half kilometer from the village square was our starting point.
We started with this head and neck stone formation. The climb was steep but the step like stones made the climb easy. Until now I had such formations only in pictures. It was a great feeling to be seeing one for real and touch it. This spot is called Shigipadi.
Amazing rock formation. The more I see it the more I feel it can rotate.
We climb back to the summit and walk along the edge of the plateau. We meet Fakirappa's uncle. He's a goatherd and he brings his herd here for grazing almost everyday. The rocks in the background seem like a stack of cookies.
Our guide knew our interest now, in fact he was not rushing at all. With every step we would see something interesting, especially the pebbles embedded in larger rocks. Pebbles were different colors- red, rust color, brown, white. Fakirappa told us about wild life on these hills. Fakirappa would mention the local names for animals and I would ask him to describe them and tell him the name we knew. One of the names mentioned was Kattekiraba. Fakirappa described the animal with ears like donkey's, size of a dog, hind legs are short.. hmmm.. got it, that's a hyena. I never there were hyenas in Karnataka. Other animals found on this hill are rabbits, porcupines, wild pigs, and wolves. Wild pigs are known as mika in North Karnataka..

After a 10 minute walk we reach Anipadi; the word can be split into Ani and Padi; the words translates to elephant and rock. That's Anipadi-
On Aniphadi are several prehistoric paintings, mostly in ocher. Overall I have no idea what the drawing means but within it a drawing of a striped animal which we thought as a tiger but realized our mistake; its a hyena. Later at home home, we learn that its correct name is Striped Indian Hyena. Back to the painting here, on the top right corner is a deer like animal.
A closer view of the maze; large patches enclosed in a thick outline. Zigzag patterns is surely hyena skin.
The deer.
We move to the other side of the rock. most paintings have faded or some places rain water stains have covered the paint. Here we can see three individual paintings, marked in circles.
I could not identify what this depicts.
A hyena, to be precise a striped Indian hyena.
The smaller circle is just a hyena leg. On the same side of the rock are more paintings but unidentifiable. In the vicinity is a small painting of a human like creature; a think body with half-raised arms, and legs bent at knee. The creature has a pointed head and it seems to be male. My opinion is that this is not intended to be a human. Perhaps this is a depiction of some extraterrestrial life form.
The next group of paintings is also faded, few lines are visible clearly. To the right is a painting of a palm, just three fingers are visible. Fakirappa's hand fit into neatly.
Malatesh makes a video, to watch them visit this link- Anipadi paintings.
Now Fakirappa wanted to show us the hill in detail. He called his office and asked for leave. Back the summit, we explored these sandstone mounds similar to the ones seen near Badami.South fort. I remember seeing about 15 such mounds.
Notice the X-cut on the rock. Wonder how it got formed.
Fakirappa is a patient man, he would wait until I and Malatesh finished shooting. The path went a 3 feet wide gap. This seemed like an ancient path, stone slabs were laid into the path. We are going to climb down.
Notice the stones forming a stairway. Malatesh I discuss it; we felt its an old creation, perhaps thousands of years ago. Behind me are agricultural plots belonging to Fakirappa's family members.
Soil is sandy, you need extra effort to walk on this soil. The standing crop is Sajji. Fields are well maintained. I guess in this soil type and weather, weeds are not a problem. We take a short break here, have Britannia multi-grain cookies and  water.
Half kilometer walk we reach two thatched roof huts, belonging to Fakirappa's brothers. His sisters-in-law and their children were home. We have some more water. Cattle are tied below a Neem tree. The place was very silent and felt peaceful I felt we should spend few days here. If we do that may be we'll get a better idea how man lived here in prehistoric times. Also, agricultural activity here must have been going on for few thousand years.
Fakirappa points at a large stone formation about half kilometer away. We'll be going there to see few more rock paintings.

This article will continue in the following post - Kutkankeri, a prehistoric site - part 2.


Leena said...

Great Find. Thanks.

Team G Square said...

Wow ,nice to know about this place . One more place added to list to visit .