Prehistoric cave art and tribes of Vindhyachal, India

Anisha Sharma
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Mahua flowers are very sweet and substitute for sugar in tribal Vindhyachal.

Vindhyachal jungleFootsteps in time

Other than the famous temples of Vindhyavasini, Ashtbhuja and Kalikhoh, the region of Vindhyachal remains a quiet, unheard of travel destination in Eastern Uttar Pradesh. AnandWay explores this tract of history and culture.

Vindhya's treasure - Prehistoric cave art, tribes and natural resources

Mesolithic, Neolithic and Chalcolithic age evidence of man’s struggle at civilization stand unveiled at the 250 caves amidst dense forests in the Vindhya area. The Imperial Gazetteer classified the cave-treasure of Vindhyachal in the year 9 as Middle Stone Age, New Stone age and Copper-stone age remains.

The earliest cave-paintings (2040-2000 BC), predominantly deep brown and light yellow, line figures of hunting scenes are found in caves at Mathava, Kauva Khoh, Hathwani, Ghoramangar and Lakhma.

These paintings on walls and ceilings of cave-shelters tell mute stories of evolution in emotions, psychology, lifestyle and environment of early man here.

The Neolithic and Chalcolithic age paintings use a rich variety in natural colours. Animal blood, naturally available ores such as black Manganese Oxide and brown Hematite, white limestone, extracts from plants, resin and animal fat seem to make up the colour-pallette which stirs the imagination of these ancient cave-dwellers. X-ray style drawings along with double outlined figures of men carrying burdens, herding cattle, rowing boats and fighting battles with bows arrows, spears and helmets transport you back in time in their company! Stringed musical instruments, horse-riders, rhinos, camels, bullock-carts, traditional Alpana designs and Brahmi script are stamps of gradual change over a long period of time. Caves at Kerwa, Panchmukhi, Lakhania, Sidhnath ki Dari and Amda are happy reminders of this historic-cultural evolution.

Tribals in this green haven still use natural materials like sindoor, oil, plant extracts, limestone, and hematite to decorate their huts.

Tribal culture - Vindhyachal

Tribal culture at its pulsating best is experienced at fairs at Shiv Dwar, Agori, Kaimoor, Kurari and festive celebrations in their own villages.

Life in the jungle

Khairwa is the chief tribe here. They were hunters and still live largely on forest produce, though they also cultivate crops now. Mahua tree is as staple to tribal life here as food-grains are in other geographic regions. Mahua flowers are eaten in many mouth-watering concoctions along with Mahua wine, which is one of the original Indian wines.

Mahua flowers are very sweet and substitute for sugar in tribal Vindhyachal. You must check it out! Mahua and chironji grow wild in Vindhyachal, which birds, bees, monkeys, squirrels, deer and humans profess an equal right to.

Tribes of Vindhyachal

Kol, Khairwa, Baiga, Majhi, Kewar, Baswa, Gond, Bhuihar, Dhangar and Ghasiya tribes are some of the living legends of culturally rich Vindhyachal.

Tree worship

Kadamb tree flower

The villages are quiet sanctuaries of a bygone era, while change brought in by formal education and media is also visible. Dances are still the favoured expression of collective joy in tribal culture. Karma dancers in rustic dress and jewellery revel in joy that celebrates life. Kadam and Dharua trees are worshipped as symbols of longevity and life. The Jhoomar is a harvest dance and Kol-Dhaki another agile dance form of the tribals.

Tribal metal handicraft, boxSimple folk, tribals make innovative articles of daily use, using available natural resources like stone, bamboo and mud. Their pottery, wicker baskets, caps, sil-batta, (grinding stone for the kitchen) and other kitchen utensils along with silver and iron jewellery are sweet souvenirs from the indigenous people of Vindhyachal.

Travel guide

Map


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Distances

Kurari is 4km from Agori across River Son.
Shiv Dwar is 46 km from Robertsganj.
Agori is 35 km from Robertganj.
Salkhan Fossil Park is 5 km from Robertsganj-Renukoot Road.
Kaimoor Wildlife Sanctuary is 3 km from Robertsganj.
Chandraprabha Wildlife Sanctuary is 70 km from Varanasi.
Varanasi-Vindhyachal: 80 km
Allahabad-Vindhyachal: 95 km
Varanasi-Chunar: 40 km
Mirzapur-Chunar:45 km
Chunar-Shakteshgarh fort: 25 km
Varanasi-Vijaigarh fort: 70 km
Robertsganj-Vijaigarh fort: 20 km
Robertsganj-Agori fort: 35 km

More from Vindhyachal

Forts of Vindhyachal, India




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