Discovery of prehistoric cave paintings has given an interesting twist to the antiquity of rock art found in India. Located near the famous Mangar Bani sacred grove lying between New Delhi and Gurgaon, these paintings have been found among a warren of shelters in the quartzite rocks in the Aravalli hills. Although archaeologists plan to make a detailed study of the rocks and try to ascertain the actual age of the paintings, by all appearances the paintings belong to the Palaeolithic Age.
According to reports, the villagers from Mangar knew about these paintings for a long time. However, the presence of the drawings was confirmed after a fact finding team from Haryana government&rsquos Department of Museum and Archaeology visited the area. The media quoted Banani Bhattacharyya, deputy director of the department, as saying that some of the paintings may likely belong to the Upper Palaeolithic Age.
If archaeologists are able to establish that some of the paintings are from the Upper Palaeolithic Age (40,000 years ago till almost 10,000 years ago), it will be the oldest such finding in the country. As of now, the rock art of Bhimbetka in Madhya Pradesh is India&rsquos oldest, dating back to the Mesolithic Age (nearly 10,000 years ago).
According to the team, many of the paintings found in the caves near Mangar Bani have faded with time but those visible depict human and animal figures, plants, and geometric shapes. Most of the paintings were ochre in colour and located on the ceilings of the caves.
Interestingly, the Mangar Bani sacred grove, which likely hid the rock shelters from public view, would have disappeared if it was not for a prolonged battle (from street protests to court cases) waged by the Mangar villagers and a group of concerned environmentalists against real estate pressure.