Prehistoric paintings at Onake Kindi

It was my wish to see prehistoric paintings for many years. Search for rock paintings during my visit to Sidlaphadi and Badami went in vain, inquiries for the locations did not yield any useful information. While researching information in and around Anegundi I learnt about Onake Kindi from Anuradha Shankar's blog. I tried to find the location on Wikimapia but couldn't get it. I decided to inquire at Anegundi.

June 23, 2012
Ravi, Malatesh and I started our day with the search for Ashokan Edict of Palki Gundu near Koppal. Next was Ashokan edict near Gavimath and we also visited Gavimath. By noon we were at Vijayalakshmi temple near Anegundi. Next we headed towards Anegundi where we hoped to find the location of Onake Kindi, the prehistoric site near Anegundi with rock paintings.

I knew Onake Kindi was close to Chikkarampur. At Chikkarampur, Malatesh spotted a painted stone slab with the text "Rock Paintings". The narrow road winded through barren paddy fields and rocky hillocks. We saw an old man sitting peacefully under a clump of trees in his fields. We stopped to ask for Onake Kindi, he pointed at a coconut tree and said its there. The coconut tree was close to a fork; right or left? We stopped a passer by on a bike, he had no idea what we were after. We took right and drove about half kilometer and saw a man sitting under a shrub besides the road. Our man though deaf and mute knew what we wanted and pointed us to go little further. I asked him to come with us and he obliged. Barely 100 meters further, our man asked to stop and pointed left. We saw a group of people having lunch under a tree. We got off the car, walked 100 feet through a barren paddy field and our friend introduced us to Narasimhalu.
Narasimhalu has just finished his lunch. We spoke about paddy fields and cultivation for some time. Narasimhalu manages agricultural activities for his landlord who lives in Mumbai. In fact the rock paintings are in the same owner's land. We walked about hundred feet through a narrow footpath and came to a locked metal gate. Narasimhalu unlocked and let us in. I asked what would his charged. The quoted price was reasonable for what were about to see. I agreed. The narrow path opened up to a wide open field. To our left was this rock formation which looked like a helicopter.

Here's a bird's eye-view of Onake Kindi. Thanks to Google Maps and Wikimapia. The place is a natural fortress. Ideal for prehistoric humans to inhabit. The place has a narrow entrance, has plenty of open space, rock shelters and rain water ponds. Of course the terrain would be a different from what we see now.

Few points are marked for reference-
A - Entrance to field
B - Helicopter rock
C - Cave with paintings
D - Rock shelters with paintings
E - Painting of a human figure

We start with the little cave, marked C. I asked Narasimhalu how old are these paintings are. 5000 years. Straight ahead is a shelter under the large rock. The front yard is a wide rock-bed. I was trying to imagine the scene thousands of years ago. Men sitting in groups making stone weapons. Groups of  women & children picking fruits and berries or digging for tubers. Humans must have inhabited this place a thousand years before they started painting- that's my guess.

Here we are looking at 5000 year old paintings.

Looks like our ancestors used this rock like a white board. Call it a 5000 year old blog :)

Starting from the left top corner, it seems like a man chasing an ox.
Panning to the right, I see mainly ox. The smaller animal could be a dog or a sheep. These are monochrome paintings- red. The three white paintings are recent, some shepherds' have mimicked the prehistoric artists with sunna; a man (obviously one of the shepherds), a lamb and a dog.
Lets zoom in and take a closer look at the figures.

The large animal could be a cow (1) and the smaller animal next to it could be a calf (2). The figure close to the cow's horns is a bird (3). The animal close to the bottom edge of this picture looks like a sheep (4) and the animal above it looks like a dog (5).The other animals are cattle, either cows or oxen.

Panning to the top right of the rockboard.

Starting at the top left, it seems like a man holding a bird's tail tail feathers (6). Looking at the shape of the bird, it could be a peacock. Two more peacock like bird can be seen, one in full and the other partly (7). Coming to the center of the picture, its a man holding a rope tied to an ox (8). The figure to extreme right is a double lined square with looped corners enclosing a man and a woman (9). Wonder what it depicts; wedding ceremony or a couple at home.

Panning to the top right corner; figures seem like human. The three figures in the center seem like women. No idea what the large figure on the right is. Towards the bottom edge are animals, one of them seems like a hunting dog.

Now we are looking at a not-so-simple art.

A circular figure with an array on similar sized circles with dots at their centers. Coming to the core; it looks like some kind of shelter in which a woman is lying on her sides on a bed of rocks. I wonder what this picture depicts.

A man and a woman.with their left hands on their waists.

Moving away from the rock board, we explore the other paintings. The largest painting is a snake spanning almost the entire depth of the cave. Here I'm little confused; is the white paint shepherd's contribution?

Another couple enclosed in a rectangle.
This looks like a line of men standing a closely as though they are posing for a group photo or forming a barricade. The horned animal could be a goat.

It was around 1-30PM and we were famished. Good we were carrying our lunch. Thanks to Malatesh's mother and sister who taken the trouble to cook & pack a full lunch for us. Ravi volunteered to fetch the lunch bag from the car. Narasimhalu offered to get some water. Meanwhile Malatesh and I studied the surroundings. We saw two identical elliptical pits about 10 feet apart. these pits might have been used to prepare the red paint used That's Malatesh and the elliptical pit in front of him.

Coming to the composition of the paint, an online source says it is plant extract while another source says it is red laterite clay. I guess it could be a mix of plant extract and ground minerals.

Ravi and Narasimhalu are back with lunch bag and water bottles. We head for a shady spot large enough to seat us all comfortably. Narasimhalu suggests we sit under this rock shelter because the breeze is pleasant up there.

To our surprise, this rock shelter is another major rockboard; these were mainly paintings of human figures. 
A closer look. To really make sense out of this chaos one needs to spend hours studying these figures. I have plans to visit again.
Lunch was being served; soutekay, moolangi, menthe-palle, jolada rotti, palya, chatni, mosaru & mosaranna. This is truly a unique lunch; at a prehistoric site in a rock shelter besides 5000 year old paintings and having home made adgi. Even though Narasimhalu had had his lunch, we persuade Narasimhalu to join us.

We were almost done with lunch when Davalappa came in. As we packing up Malatesh remembered Yeli-adkee in the car and Ravi had to make another trip to the car and back. With yeli-adkee our lunch was complete. Now back to exploring.

That's our lunch place- under that rock overhang.

A few feet up ahead was another shelter with paintings. Going anti-clockwise from bottom left corner. A man riding a horse. A man aiming an arrow in a bow. Bulls locking horns. A large animal which seems to be a tiger. Bulls locking horns. A man and an ox are partially visible.

On the way down we stopped to shoot this fish shaped rock ...tail fin is missing. I always wonder how rocks got their shapes and how they got arranged in delicately balancing formations.

Our guides want us to see another painting done on the underside of a rock overhang.

A life sized man with solid legs and skinny hands partly raised and bent at elbows. Close to his feet is a small painting of an ox. I wonder what this huge difference in proportion signifies. This painting is about 18 feet above us. Artist who painted this was brave person. I wonder if that artist had more to paint...

Our group pose by a heart-shaped rock. I noticed that edges of one rock matched the edges of the neighboring rock. These rocks formed one huge jigsaw puzzle. Which means this was one rock thousands of years ago. I ask Davalappa what could cause rocks to break. Heat. Right, the cycling of hot and cold weather coupled with effects of wind and rain might have caused rocks to break into smaller pieces. Of course that would be a very long process- tens of thousands of years. Applying the same theory to the rock hills in the background; those hills might have been massive monoliths long long back. Feel free to comment on my theory.

Next our guides showed us Hanuman's foot prints. These rocks are basically pink colored with a layer of black coating. For some reason, on this rock a series of foot shaped clear patches can be seen. The surprising part is how the patches are positioned just like foot marks. Malatesh walked along the 'foot prints' and said yes, they seem like a giant's foot marks. Talking about Hanuman, his birth place Anjanadri Betta is about 1.5 km air distance from here. Amazing!?!

I had fallen in love with Onake Kindi. the place has so much life. We saw a tough looking creeper. Assuming it grew when the paintings were created, they might have been used to make ropes. As we were coming to the end of the tour and walking towards the exit, I felt this was an ideal spot for a painting. Yes, there were two small paintings. In the picture below, just below our guides the paint preparing elliptical pit is seen. The paintings are close to the top right right corner.

Close to the gate, a creeper on a Neem tree caught our attention. Clusters of basket-shaped dry pods hung from the creeper. We plucked some to take home.

The hours we spent here have some of the best moments of my journeys. We were grateful to Narasimhalu for being patient with us. We told him that we'll come back one day. We noted their address and promised to send photos. Yet to send the pictures.

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