Hampi- Dolmens and Cave paintings

Dolmens, considered to be megalithic tombs, abound the area of Hirebenakal, near Hampi.

Dolmens were used to commemorate the dead and it is believed that ceremonies were also conducted around them. I had first learnt of Dolmens from the comics of Asterix ( I think it was Asterix and the Golden Sickle), and associated them with Gaul and that part of the world. Never knew there were dolmens in India.

After a trek of approximately 2 km up rocky terrain, we turned round the corner and into an area that is completely filled with dolmens, some of which are partially buried. There is a vague feeling of being in a ghost town and walking through quiet empty streets lined with abandoned houses.

The Dolmens are about 3 Metres high and roughly 2.5 mts square on the ground. They are covered on 2 or 3 sides with stone slabs with a horizontal portal like slab above. At a considerable height near the dolmens is a rock cut in the shape of a drum. Was this used as a part of the burial ritual? Were the slabs cut near the site, or were they transported? Were any rituals conducted? No tombs have been unearthed. There are no answers yet.

Evidence of the neolithic era exists all across the hill. Halfway up, a detour leads us to caves with extremely well preserved ancient cave paintings. They are well within the cave or on the underside and hence, are well preserved from the elements. A few have faded, probably on account of weathering. Red ochre in colour, they depict animals such as deer, men and women, hunting scenes and various geometric shapes.

Onake Kindi, near Anegundi is another site where we saw cave paintings. Set within a private property where cultivation of date palms is happening, we trekked upto a plateau with two hills. Both had caves facing each other and both had beautiful paintings depicting similar characters. Most of these illustrations are on the underside of the cave roof. It is a glorious feeling to lie down in a cave and look at illustrations that are more than 3000 years old.

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