Fusion of Rock Art

Screenshot 2023 07 20 at 3.00.23 PM

Rudragiri hillock located in the Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh, boasts a celebrated historical past and remarkable archaeological monuments. This site unveils a fascinating combination of prehistoric rock paintings from the Mesolithic period and exquisite artwork from the Kakatiya dynasty. 


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  • At the foothills of Rudragiri, five naturally formed rock shelters have been uncovered.
  • These shelters served as dwellings for people during the Mesolithic age approximately around 5000 B.C. They contain striking rock paintings from that era, which provide a fascinating glimpse into the past.
  • Two of these natural caves display remarkable murals dating back to the renowned Kakatiya dynasty. Despite being affected by the forces of nature over time, fragments of these paintings offer valuable insights into their creation during the 13th century A.D.
  • The paintings are adorned with a variety of colors derived from white kaolin and various pigments. They vividly depict captivating scenes from the epic Ramayana.
  • In the first cave, there is a narrative mural portraying the intense battle between the Vanara brothers – Vali and Sugriva.
  • The middle cave features a grand sketch of Hanuman, accompanied by sacred symbols such as the conch (Sankha) and the fire altar (Yagna Vedi).
  • Additionally, the third cave houses prehistoric rock paintings dating back to the Mesolithic era, providing a glimpse of the ancient artistic expressions from that time.

Early Rock Paintings in India

  • India boasts some of the earliest rock paintings dating back to the Upper Palaeolithic times. 
  • The first discovery of rock paintings in India was made by archaeologist Archibold Carlleyle
  • Remnants of these ancient paintings have been found on cave walls in several districts of Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Bihar, and even the Kumaon hills in Uttarakhand, particularly at Lakhudiyar, where the rock shelters along the River Suyal preserve these prehistoric artworks.

The Spectacular Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka

  • One of the most remarkable sites of rock paintings in India is Bhimbetka, located in the Vindhya hills of Madhya Pradesh.
  • Discovered by archaeologist V.S. Wakankar
  • The paintings at Bhimbetka depict a diverse range of themes, including daily life events, sacred and royal images, hunting scenes, dancing, music, horse and elephant riders, animal fights, honey collection, body decoration, and household scenes.

Classification of Bhimbetka Rock Art

  • The rock art at Bhimbetka has been categorized into various groups based on style, technique, and superimposition.
  • The drawings and paintings are classified into three historical periods: Period I (Upper Palaeolithic), Period II (Mesolithic), and Period III (Chalcolithic).
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Mesolithic Paintings

  • During the Mesolithic period (Period II), the rock paintings at Bhimbetka feature a variety of themes, with hunting scenes being predominant.
  • The paintings depict groups of primitive men hunting animals with barbed spears, pointed sticks, arrows, and bows.
  • Some paintings show the hunters using traps and snares to catch animals. The hunters are depicted wearing simple clothes and ornaments, occasionally adorned with elaborate headdresses or masks. 
  • The Mesolithic artists showed a mix of fear and tenderness for animals in their artwork.

Daily Life Depictions

  • The rock paintings at Bhimbetka also depict various aspects of daily life during the Mesolithic era.
  • Scenes of community dances, people gathering fruits or honey from trees, and women grinding and preparing food are common themes.
  • The artists painted men, women, and children engaged in various activities, giving a glimpse of what life was like for these ancient people.

Techniques and Colours

  • The artists at Bhimbetka used a wide range of colors, including white, yellow, orange, red ochre, purple, brown, green, and black.
  • White and red were particularly favored colors.
  • The paints were made by grinding various rocks and minerals, such as haematite for red and chalcedony for green.
  • The artists used plant fiber brushes for their artwork.
  • Surprisingly, these colors have survived thousands of years due to the presence of oxide on the rock surface, which helped preserve the paintings despite adverse weather conditions. 

Location and Purpose of Paintings

  • The paintings were made on the walls and ceilings of rock shelters, with some found in places where people lived and others in areas with potential religious significance.
  • The elevated locations of some paintings suggest they were meant to be visible from a distance.
  • The paintings display pictorial quality and provide insights into the lives and beliefs of early human beings, showing a passion for storytelling and a portrayal of humans and animals engaged in the struggle for survival.

A Glimpse into Prehistoric Life

  • These prehistoric paintings offer valuable information about early human beings, their lifestyle, food habits, and daily activities.
  • They provide a glimpse into the minds of these ancient artists, reflecting their thoughts and perceptions.
  • The remains from the prehistoric period, including rock weapons, tools, ceramics, and bones, serve as witnesses to the evolution of human civilization, with the rock paintings being among the most significant legacies left behind by the primitive humans of that time.

About Kakatiya Dynasty


Early Kakatiya Dynasty rulers

  • The Kakatiya dynasty, known for ruling the eastern Deccan region from the 12th to the 14th centuries, had its roots traced back to Venna, who reigned from 800 to 815 AD.
  • Venna was believed to be a descendant of Durjaya, a legendary chieftain of the Andhra kingdom.
  • The Kakatiya lineage continued with Gunda I and Gunda II, about whom little information is available except for their rule from 815 to 865 AD.
  • During the early days, the Kakatiyas served as vassals to the powerful Rashtrakuta, which held significant influence over much of India during the 6th to 10th centuries AD.

Rise to Power and Independence

  • After the collapse of the Rashtrakuta kingdom, Gunda IV saw an opportunity to establish his family’s independent rule.
  • He declared Kuravi as an independent principality, leading the Kakatiya dynasty towards self-governance.

Consolidation and Expansion 

  • Ganapati, who ruled from around 1199 to 1262, focused on consolidating the kingdom and expanding its territories.
  • He led successful campaigns, bringing Telugu-speaking lowland deltas around the Godavari and Krishna rivers under his control.
  • The capital of Kakatiyas was Orugallu, now known as Warangal.

Rudrama Devi: A Remarkable Female Ruler

  • Rudrama Devi, succeeding Ganapati, was one of the few female rulers in Indian history.
  • She continued her predecessor’s fortification efforts and repelled an attempted invasion by the Seuna dynasty (Yadava Dynasty). 
  • She married an Eastern Chalukyan prince, Virabhadra, and later handed over the throne to her grandson, Prataparudra II.

Decline of the Kakatiya Dynasty

  • Prataparudra II faced challenges from the Delhi Sultanate under Alauddin Khalji, who saw the wealth and potential of the Kakatiya lands.
  • Prataparudra II initially submitted to Alauddin but later asserted his kingdom’s independence.
  • The subsequent conflicts with the Delhi Sultanate led to the fall of the Kakatiya dynasty.

Mains Practice Question

Q. Discuss the significance of Mesolithic paintings as a means to gain valuable insights into the lives and beliefs of prehistoric communities. (150 words; 10 marks).

Previous Year Question (2017)

Q. Which one of the following was a very important seaport in the Kakatiya kingdom?

(a) Kakinada

(b) Motupalli

(c) Machilipatnam (Masulipatnam)

(d) Nelluru

Scroll down for answer










Answer: (b)


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