BOUNTY BEYOND VARANASI (Unpublished)
by Dr. Gautam
‘Benaras is older than history, older than tradition, even older than
legend and looks twice as old as all of them put together’ Thus spake Mark
Twain. Today Varanasi remains one of the most sacred center for ‘Spiritual
Tourism’. Taking a hind side view of this sacred city one can also
traverse back to the natural world of pre-historic era. This natural world
is just 113 Kms away from Varanasi and provides you a rare view of natural
interplay like water falls, rare tree rock fossils and historic and
pre-historic rock arts in cave and rock shelters in Eastern Vindhya range.
Destination Robert Ganj;
Start your journey at early hour. Enjoying the morning breeze one passes
through Adal Hat where the famous sculpturers who built Chunar fort resided.
Little ahead one finds a valley Ahraur Ghati. Those road-side hamlet within
the puncturation of greenary one finds small hillock. Important occupation
is querrying and manufacturing Sil Bhatta or hand operated Grinding Stone
which is very special in every Indian ktchen. After some more kilometer Adwa
Bandh is another hamlets within the hillocks. It is said there were some
ancient quila has submerged and some portion is visible.
Just after travelling 55 Kms
from Varanasi one reaches the Lakhania Dari or a water fall. Soothing Water
falls emerges from Vindhya and runs through pebbles and stone mounds. The
unique sound of gushing water flows beneath the bridge and on the otherside
silence befall. If you are adventerous then you can walk upto the caves
nearby where one can find ancient rock paintings of historic times. The
aesthetic autobiography of ancient people about their life style and the
then world would make an awe feelings for the onlookers. Another 24 Kms of
motoring would take you to Sonbhadra. This is a belt of traditional people
like Kol Koewa, Panika,Gonr etc. tribes. Farming rice is one of the major
agricultural activities of this area.
From the world of traditional
people one reaches chowk Mohani or Robert Ganj,the center of Natural World
of Eastern Vindhya. From Chowk Mohani a 25 minutes drive one reaches the
Awai Gram or Village. On the road side Dhaba Ragunath Prasad can be your
guide who would take you to this pride of the Vindhya hills. One has to walk
for twenty minutes across the field to reach a hill-top where an amaging
natural beauty awaits you. ‘Patthare ke Perh’ Stone Trees as local people
refer it. Local aboriginals narrates people (perhaps Geologists)do come from
the city and say ‘these are precious treasure of India’.
An old signboard of Forest
Department declares it is ‘Pride of Salankhan’ which is akin to the US
Yellow park,fossils of trees found in this area dated to be 1100 million
year old. There are some thousands of trees turned into rock fossils reminds
us of our rich natural heritage.
There are numerous trunk of
black colours can be seen all around,but when you touch them you would
realise those are hard stones. You can see the stub with rings within which
tell the age of the trees. Thus unique remnants of yesteryears would remind
us that once our earth was full of green vegetation.
From era of million years one
can come to the era of c. 10,000 to 25,000 when early man used to live in
caves and rock shelters. And those primitive people while resting in those
shelters created various drawings on the walls of those shelters/caves.
Those rock arts interestingly contain the record of ‘pre-historic’ to
‘historic’ times and today we get an unification at some level which creates
confustion to ascertain the date.
Dr Arjun Das Kesri,a local
well respected teacher of Robert Ganj actually found these sites some twenty
years back and written a book as well. Though he remains ‘silent’ about not
getting recognistion said that these palces are treasure hills. He found out
many pre-historic stone age tools of early years of human origin. I found a
friend and a reserach scholar of immense potentiality who took me around
various rock shelters of the area.
There are hundreds of such
rock art sites in eastern Vindhyachal region. One can have a quick glimpse
if one travels to Panchmukhi rock art sites which is some eight kms south of
Robertganj town. There is a small village road which is the landmark of this
elegant natural rock shelters of yester years.
There is a very ancient
Panchmukhi Temple of Shiva. The dates cannot be ascertained however the
bricks do indicate that it might have been part of some ancient Baudh Vihar.
There are some unique sculptures which are lying uncared for leaning on
those historic stones. Some 200 mt southern side of this temple one can find
the ‘rock art’ where Rhino, Camel, Goat and Pigs are found. There are some
human hunting figures available. This indicate once upon a time here Rhino
and Camels were found which cannot be traced today. Just 25 mts towards
south from this site there is another cave. Here also one can find various
drawings of hunter gatheres’ era. Around it there are four five sites can be
seen even ‘unknown’ script is found on the walls and on the surface rocks.
There are scenes of entertainment such as drumming, dancing and coupling as
well. There are all kinds of superimposed motifs available starting from
animal hunting to the world of Gods and Demigods. This site has references
of domestication of animal, war fare techniques, rhino huntint to
agriculture in short.
Thus Panchmukhi is a natural
library of ancient world and provides an unique peeping opptortunity to have
an hind side view of the gone by era. If one is interested in the ‘Natural
World’ then this is a nice hide out from the hustle bustle of the city.