Photo essay – The Bhimbetka Caves….. and no, you are not in Northern Australia

Winding the ‘A Passenger through India’ narrative back to Post 1 I should remind that the blog is crafted in the form of a road trip by a somewhat quirky Australian biologist (obviously I’ve exaggerated the character just a little). And so there is an Australian perspective that emerges throughout the text posts.

But when I arrived at the Bhimbetka Caves World Heritage (see Posts 47, 48), located south of Bhopal, it was actually as if I had been transported to Northern Australia. Though of a different style, and featuring different animals, the artwork could have been anywhere on the rock uplifts and overhangs of Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory, or the Kimberleys in Western Australia. Different hands and different cultures are responsible for each, but in impact they are the same. Even the vegetation conveys a sense of sameness. The respective pigmented works are as if points along a cultural gradient, depicting their own but interrelated ‘Dreamings’. Only the Indian Ocean intercedes as a barrier. Yet for a time India and Australia were one, parts of the same Gondwana supercontinent that millions of years ago went their own ways.

Posts 47 and 48 tell one facet of the story of the Bhimbetka Caves, but this photo essay is meant to give a broader visual exposure, both of the individual pictographs and of the landscape context in which they survive. They speak to us across thousands of years, and they sing the dreaming songs of their makers.

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