Petraglyphs in Ratnagiri

One of our recent trips to Ratnagiri, Konkan Maharashtra, yielded an unusual discovery. Thousands of years old rock carvings made by early humans. Such carved drawings on rocks are called Petraglyphs, and we must be thankful to Mr Sudhir Risbud, who has painstakingly discovered, documented and made (continues to make) supreme efforts to preserve these and bring some public attention to these.

Our hosts told use as part of “what to do”, to speak to Sudhir Risbud on what we can see around the area and that he has interesting visits in mind. We had no idea we would be seeing rock carvings, made around 20,000 BCE to 2000 BCE! (Mr Sisbud says it is very difficult to accurately time these peraglyphs, but we can get a fair idea from the materials used and the animals portrayed. We find drawings of Rhinocerous, but they have been extinct from this area for 10s of thousands of years. Elephants have been carved as well, which are not found here for many years now).

We fixed a date with Sudhir Risbud he asked us to come to a certain location where he would be bringing other visitors. These locations are as yet not mapped on popular apps (thankfully, since many of these are not yet properly protected), so we kind of lost our way. Weak phone signals further complicated things. Finally we managed to speak to Mr Risbud, waited for him at a village crossing and when his car reached we followed him to the interiors of the plateau region. Walking through the tall grass we saw this spot with a aesthetic brick boundary built around it and a small raised podium where one can stand to get a toppish view of the carvings.

We saw a rather well detailed drawing of a male tusker with 5 toes. I was wondering the person who carved it knew how to count and had remarkable observation.

Mr Risbud and Dhananya Marathe have been searching for and documenting about 1200 such carvings since 2012, when Mr Risbud accidentally came across one site, and rightfully wondered there must be many more. These are carvings from the stone age, when woman (and man, for that matter) was a hunter gather. Most of the drawings art of animals : elephants, rhonocerous (which are no longer found here), deer, fish, birds, wild boar. Some carvings look like human figures. Some are abstract. Were these just observations? Were they meant to convey something to the next bunch of hunter-gatherer teams coming from behind? Will we ever know?

Petroglyphs in Ratnagiri
An Indian Elephant carving in the plateau rocks of Ratnagiri.
Petroglyphs in Ratnagiri
Sudhir Risbud explaining his discovery of the Petroglyphs to us.
Petroglyphs in Ratnagiri
Visitors exploring the Petroglyphs. These are still being worked upon and hopefully soon the visitors won’t be allowed to walk on these carvings.
Petroglyphs in Ratnagiri
The typical Ratnagiri Plateau landscape where the Petroglyphs were discovered.
Petroglyphs in Ratnagiri
What can you see here?
Petroglyphs in Ratnagiri
Moving to another location for more Petroglyphs Sites.
Petroglyphs in Ratnagiri
Work in Progress for a Petroglyphs Information Center.
Petroglyphs in Ratnagiri
Sudhir Risbud explains a giant carving of a Rhinocerous. Rhinos went extinct in this part of the country 10s of thousands of years ago. How old are these carvings?
Petroglyphs in Ratnagiri
Does the larger animal drawing look too much like a Kangaroo? No, the tail is too short. Maybe a deer. The smaller one looks like a Civet Cat?
Petroglyphs in Ratnagiri
The image on the left could be a Striped Hyena, commonly found in this part.
Petroglyphs in Ratnagiri
Much of the Petroglyphs location may e lost forever due to mining for the red Ratnagiri stone bricks used for house constructions. Pity.
Petroglyphs in Ratnagiri
What could this be? A human being>? A monkey?
Petroglyphs in Ratnagiri
A wild boar drawing.

1 thought on “Petraglyphs in Ratnagiri”

  1. What a find! I hope once the excavation has been completed, boardwalks will be built to allow visitors to marvel at those ancient carvings without causing damage to them — just like what they did in Jordan, especially at sites where Roman tiles have been discovered.

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