7 Must-See Palaeolithic Sites of India 102
Monuments, Gastronomy, and Diversity. What else is left to explore in this country of more than a billion people? The answer to this question would be the lesser-known and mind-boggling Palaeolithic sites in India. The study of human evolution and society is one of the most sought-after and intriguing topics one can come across. It helps us to understand the primal ways through which pre-evolved humans sustained their lives. Being home to countless dynasties before and after Vedic times, India has always been fortunate in terms of historical remains, artifacts, and monuments. With the popularity of Indus Valley Civilisation that draws millions of tourists and history fanatics to the Indian subcontinent, it is important to mention the long list of Palaeolithic sites gracing the landscape of this country.
The Palaeolithic Age or Old Stone Age in India spanned from 500,000 B.C. to 10,000 B.C in the Pleistocene Period of the Ice Age. The term Palaeolithic was coined by archaeologist John Lubbock in 1865. Discoveries from a couple of decades not only unearthed remnants belonging to the Palaeolithic era but also cemented the name of India in the list of very few destinations in the world that are home to pre-historic human settlements far before the existence of the Harappan civilization. Although the research regarding these excavations is still in progress, it is good enough to attract archaeological aficionados to India from all across the globe. The period is divided into three periods - lower Palaeolithic, Middle Palaeolithic, and Upper Palaeolithic ages.
From old rugged stone tool to enigmatic rock paintings, here we have collected an incredible list of notable Palaeolithic archaeological sites in India:
1. Pahalgam Valley in Jammu-Kashmir
Who knew that a fascinating and popular tourist destination like the Pahalgam Valley would be hiding beneath it one of the most notable pieces of evidence of the Palaeolithic era? The iconic landscape of lush dense forest and serene Lidder river became the canter of attraction when an excavation was carried out by the Archaeological Survey of India. In 1969, under the supervision of H.D. Sankalia, a massive flake and a crude hand axe belonging to the old pre-historic era were discovered. This led to massive influx of archaeologists and history fanatics from all across the world. Later in 1970, another excavation led to the discovery of nine more such tools. Since then the site has become a prominent tourist attraction not only in terms of a remote wilderness but the breath-taking discoveries related to old humans. You may go and explore this place by yourself. Who knows you might come across something sensational.
2. Bhimbetka Shelters and Cave Paintings in Madhya Pradesh
Amidst the pristine beaches, iconic monuments and the scrumptious dosas, the state of Tamil Nadu is home to a village that houses the oldest known stone tools in India. Attirampakkam is a small village lying about 60 km from the city of Chennai, which is believed to have preserved the remnants of the Middle Palaeolithic culture. A large number of stone tools were excavated near the banks of river Kortallaiyar by the Sharma Centre for Heritage Education in India and other Indian institutions over the last 20 years. This magnificent site was first discovered by Robert Bruce Foote and his colleague William King in 1863. Since then the site is considered as a hotbed for archaeological artifact discovery belonging to the Palaeolithic era. Dating back to more than 60,000 years, these hominin remains of tools are categorized as a part of the Madrasian culture of pre-historic archaeological type site due to its location in Madras (Present-day Chennai city). The intricate and spellbinding artifacts include flake tools, microliths, and other chopping tools. A popular tourist attraction, excavations at the site are still in progress for further research.
3. Attirampakkam near Chennai in Tamil Nadu
Amidst the pristine beaches, iconic monuments and the scrumptious dosas, the state of Tamil Nadu is home to a village that houses the oldest known stone tools in India. Attirampakkam is a small village lying about 60 km from the city of Chennai, which is believed to have preserved the remnants of the Middle Paleolithic culture. A large number of stone tools were excavated near the banks of river Kortallaiyar by the Sharma Centre for Heritage Education in India and other Indian institutions over the last 20 years. This magnificent site was first discovered by Robert Bruce Foote and his colleague William King in 1863. Since then the site is considered as a hotbed for archaeological artifact discovery belonging to the Paleolithic era. Dating back to more than 60,000 years, these hominin remains of tools are categorized as a part of the Madrasian culture of pre-historic archaeological type site due to its location in Madras (Present-day Chennai city). The intricate and spellbinding artifacts include flake tools, microliths, and other chopping tools. A popular tourist attraction, excavations at the site are still in progress for further research.
4. Didwana near Nagaur District in Rajasthan
The land of royals, majestic forts and breath-taking palaces, Rajasthan boasts an incredible set of cultural aspects while contributing towards the progress of the tourism industry. What is less known, is its contribution to leaving a notable mark in the history of archaeology. In the Nagaur District of Rajasthan, stands the popular town of Didwana. Home to numerous religious places and monuments it also has a best-kept secret in the form of a Palaeolithic site. The region of the evolutionary Acheulian culture, Didwana houses about 301 hand axes in 10 different localities dating back to the Middle Pleistocene period. Compared with other pre-historic sites in India, this place is believed to be dating back to early Acheulian and very late Acheulian or even early middle Palaeolithic.
5. Belan Valley in Uttar Pradesh
Pre-historic sediments and artifacts are usually found near valleys and river basins. This is due to the fact that the deposition of soil buries the ancient remains by preserving them for years. One such incredible site is the Belan Valley in the state of Uttar Pradesh. Located near the banks of Belan River, the excavations at these sites led to the discovery of Palaeolithic to Neolithic artifacts and provided the first known evidence for rice cultivation. These artifacts include boring stones and slabs date between 50,000 to 80,000 years ago. Relating to the lower and middle old stone ages, this site lies at the foothills of the Vindhya hill ranges. Housing the age-old fossils of cattle and deer, the tools found here are made up of basalt, chert, and quartz. One of the most significant archaeological sites in India, it is believed that this region faces harsh and semi-arid climate which affected the food sources of the group living there.
6. Hunasagi Village in Karnataka
In the state that already houses the remnants of the Vijayanagara empire, Karnataka also offers a significant pre-historic site near the village of Hunasagi. In the Shorapura Taluka lies the evidence of Palaeolithic settlements. It is the only paleolithic site in India with pre-historic tools majorly made of limestone. Other longish tools and sharp blades were made up of reddish-brown chert. A notable site from an archaeological point of view, about 15,000 tools of different sizes and shapes are found in Hunasagi till now. These weapons were solely used for the purpose of hunting and cutting. According to archaeologists, this place was used as a habitation-cum factory site. Along with the monuments and archaeological structures based in Hampi, Hunasagi truly decorates the entire landscape of Karnataka in terms of both the history of human evolution and its culture through various times.
7. Ketavaram Rock Paintings in Kurnool district of Andhra Pradesh
Modern-day Graffiti may or may not influence you as much as ancient pre-historic rock-art might do. These captivating artistic remnants of our ancient ancestors can be found all across the globe. But one such site graces the landscape of Andhra Pradesh in the Kurnool district. Part of the world’s longest rock art sequence, Ketavaram Rock paintings are the most prominent rock-art sites belonging to the late Palaeolithic era. These pictographic murals include human-like figures, animals, birds, and everyday activities like hunting and gathering. Dating back to more than 10,000 years ago, these faded scriptures are believed to be made from natural juices of various fruits, berries, and other abundant vegetation. An extremely intriguing and breath-taking showcase, these paintings have been affected by recent human activity but still, valiantly strive to reflect the art form carried through thousands of generations.