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New Petroglyphs Explored in Sindhudurg District in Maharashtra

The Petroglyphs are an open-air ensemble of prehistoric human expression of rock art

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Raju Vernekar
Raju Vernekar
Raju Vermekar is a senior Mumbai-based journalist who have worked with many daily newspapers. Raju contributes on versatile topics.

INDIA. Mumbai: Over 35 rock arts –petroglyphs or geoglyphs, carved on the open and vast lateritic plateaus at village Khotle in Malwan (Sindhudurg district) in Maharashtra have been recently explored adding to the list of rock carvings dating back to the stone age.

Satish Lalit, a researcher involved exploration of these petroglyphs, tramped from one rock carving to another, pointing out the human figures, animals (two tigers), fish, birds, and “Lajjā Gaurī”, a lotus-headed Hindu goddess associated with abundance and modesty.

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Petroglyphs discovered in India

Petroglyphs are a type of rock art that consists of images created by incising, picking, carving, or abrading a portion of a rock surface on the ground. The carvings are in the form of human beings, animals, and geometric formations, however their shape and scale differ from one site to the next. In local slang, they are referred to as “Katal Shilp.”

The most spectacular open-air ensemble of prehistoric human expression of rock art is the concentration of geoglyphs on laterite plateaus (referred to as’sada’ in the Konkan region).

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Rhinos and elephants, which do not have a natural habitat in the Konkan today, are among the species shown in these petroglyphs. 

The largest petroglyph is an elephant sculpture (18m x 13m) located in Kasheli, Rajapur (in Ratnagiri), arguably the largest in South Asia, while the smallest is a 2cm x 3cm found in Jaigad (Ratnagiri).

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These geoglyphs are thought to have been cut out of laterite rock by prehistoric humans somewhere between 20,000 BC and 2,000 BC (Mesolithic era) (early historic).

Maharashtra contains 72 known geoglyphic sites, totaling over 1,600 sculptures. Nearly 1,200 sculptures may be found in 62 spots in Ratnagiri, and 60 petroglyphs can be found in five areas in Sindhudurg. 

To care for them, the state government has started a Rs 6 crore programme.

The other two Indian sites are Jingkieng Jri, the living root bridge in Meghalaya, and Sri Veerabhadra Temple in Andhra Pradesh’s Lepakshi.

However, most of the rock carvings are in a bad shape due to rampant quarrying of laterite, pitted rock, that is common on the coastal plain that borders the Arabian Sea. Besides the authorities have not taken cognizance of this priceless treasure, Satish Lalit, who is also the founder of an NGO-Ghunghurkathi-Sindhudurg Trust, told the Transcontinental Times.

While Lalit has been in the job of exploration of petroglyphs for the last 21 years, he is ably assisted by his wife Dr. Sai Lalit, and Laxman Babu Jangle and Narayan Rama Modak of Dhanagrwadi in Khotle villages. He’s also the author of a book about petroglyphs.

The carving of Lajjā Gaurī”, found in Khotle Village, is significant because a similar carving was earlier found in Amravati (Maharashtra), some parts of Central India, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh, and it is linked to Sindhu culture, Lalit said. 

On the slope of a hillock, there is a human figure in the bush. Local people describe the figure as “Vetal” (troll). Some people also worship the image. There are also carvings depicting the Pandavas brothers of Ramayana.

In many places, the carvings are filled with mud and surrounded by grass and some of them are worn out. After the area is cleaned one gets a clear view of the image. Besides, there are two caves covered by mud. 

In the meanwhile, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) accepted the proposal for the Stone Age-era petroglyphs from the Konkan region as a ‘tentative nomination’ on March 25. These sites are located at Jambhrun, Ukshi, Kasheli, Rundhetali, Devi Hasol, Devache Gothane, and Kudopi in the Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg districts of Maharashtra. The UNESCO has also included Phansaymal in Goa in its tentative list.

UNESCO has previously included the state’s nomination for ‘Maratha Military Architecture in Maharashtra.’

“Now work is underway to submit a third proposal featuring the state’s famed sea forts. If accepted as world heritage sites, these locations will be in the same league as the Stonehenge in the United Kingdom, Vatican City, the Taj Mahal at Agra, and the Red Fort complex in Delhi, Dr. Tejas Garge, Director, Museums and Archaeology,” Government of Maharashtra said.

The Ajanta caves, Ellora caves, Elephanta caves, Western Ghats, the CSMT railway station complex in Mumbai, and Victorian Gothic and Art Deco ensembles along Marine Drive in south Mumbai are among India’s roughly 40 world heritage sites. The tag helps boost the conservation and protection of these monuments and drives international tourist traffic.

Also Read: With Growing COVID-19 Cases, BMC Chief Asks Officials to Ramp Up Test Facilities


  • Raju Vernekar

    Raju Vermekar is a senior Mumbai-based journalist who have worked with many daily newspapers. Raju contributes on versatile topics.

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