Pengavan cave paintings, Bhopal

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Rare Cave Paintings at Pengavan
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Rock and cave paintaings at Pengavan near Bhopal

Extremely rare cave paintings have been found at Pengavan near Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh. Pengavan is a village in the Bhopal-Vidisha district road and has a population of just 200 people. Near this area is also the famous Bhimbetka caves, which is home to prehistoric cave paintings and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Pengavan is 50 Km from Madhya Pradesh's capital city Bhopal. It is home to around 35 rock shelters that can be dated back to the Mesolithic Age or the Middle Stone Age from 10,000 to 6,000 B.C. Mostly made of sedimentary rocks, the paintings here here depict the battleground scenes and also the daily lives of people who might have lived there. The scenes depicted are usually simple yet intricate line drawings of cattle (cow, oxen, goat or sheep), wild animals (antelopes, tiger, elephants), religious rites and burials, community dancing and drinking.

The striking thing about Pengavan rock shelters is that they have some paintings in white colour as well, which date back to the Copper Age. The cave paintings at Pengavan also use red colour and they have withstood years of weathering. The red colour is made from the laterite rocks found in abundance in this area.

Some paintings here are said to be extremely rare and it is said that they could not be found even at Bhimbetka or other known rock shelters across India. One such Pengavan cave painting depicts an elaborate drawing of an eagle, in addition to four or five people seated in a circle. The other rare cave painting is that of a chakravyuh or seven concentric circles. What's amazing about this is that similar cave paintings have also been found in Altamira caves in Spain and in some parts of England and France. Another one shows paintings of horsemen and even a chariot, which is again very rare.

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