Rocking in the Konkan

Updated: Jul 18, 2019, 22:28 IST | Dalreen Ramos

Ahead of a talk that deep dives into petroglyphs from the coastal region, here are five spots outside the city where you can spot them

Rocking in the Konkan
At Kasheli you can spot an 18 x 13 metres elephant carving How to reach: Hail an MSRTC bus stand for Kasheli. It's 30 kilometers away from both places. Pic/Amar Reddy

Can a word that's self-explanatory possibly be surprising? Turns out, in the case of "petroglyph" that literally translates to stone carving, there's so much to offer — and that too close to home.

Since the 1990s, locals in the Konkan spotted carvings on structures and viewed them as objects of worship or incorporated them in modern rituals. They, and the world at large, knew little about its significance until Maharashtra state government's department of archaeology and museums was alerted about it in 2017. And a talk at the Asiatic Society this evening by Dr Tejas Garge, the director of the body, will let you in on this adventure.

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A petroglyph of a monkey at Goval. HOW TO REACH: The village is in the Rajapur Taluka and its approximately 79 kilometres from Ratnagiri

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Petroglyphs have also leaned towards intricate patterns and abstraction, as observed in Devihasol. HOW TO REACH: ST buses to  Devihasol are available from Ratnagiri or else take an autorickshaw from Rajapur Road.

What stood before Garge was a wealth of history and the body then decided to conduct a systematic exploration of 91 villages, resulting in the discovery of 1,200 petroglyphs. "In other parts of the world, they exist on a very small scale. In the Konkan we were seeing life-sized carvings of humans and those of animals, which were larger than life. Even with technique, it's done by chipping of patina on the rock elsewhere while here the figures have been carved deep into the laterite," Garge explains.

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Another elephant engraving can be spotted at Ukshi and is guarded by fencing. HOW TO REACH: Ukshi is a 20 km ride from Ratnagiri city and even has its own railway station on the Konkan Railway.

He estimates the dating to be between 10,000 BC and 1,000 BC. The patterns to be discovered inside the villages of Ratnagiri district are diverse ranging from elephants, monkeys, birds, a sea turtle with some even leaning towards abstraction. "They're locally known as jamba and there are some similarities with respect to the design and shapes. So, it looks like these artists might have known each other," says Dr Kurush Dalal, assistant professor of archaeology at Mumbai University, who will be presiding over the talk. Research on the subject in the state, Garge asserts is still ongoing, especially as these carvings are under threat due to laterite mining and sheer ignorance. So, a starting point to spreading awareness is perhaps witness this phenomenon for yourself and educating others about it and its preservation. For all you know, along with the scenic route, it might make for a good trip.

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Kurush Dalal and Dr. Tejas Garge

ON Today, 5 pm to 6.30 pm
AT Durbar Hall, The Asiatic Society of Mumbai, Fort.
CALL 22660956

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