On this Sunday the Bulleteers ventured into the rocky region of Pahadgarh to find what is a known to be a large collection of prehistoric cave paintings. This collection of cave paintings which must be several millennia old is largely undiscovered due to the fear of dacoits, the tough terrain, the usual government opposition to doing something good and political rivalry.
There are stories of people trying to invest their own time and money into discovery and conservation work of these paintings and government poking their nose into these efforts to stop them. The result is that most of the caves are still undiscovered and those of which are known, have been sabotaged by retarded ‘tourists’. People are actually even taking the rock paintings home. The situation is that bad, while the ASI just sits there doing nothing.
Enough rant, now to move ahead with the travelogue. We left Gwalior at around 6:45. We were only 4 riders, me, Asif Khan, Nishant Tomar and Manish Satija. We headed straight to Pahadgarh, reaching there at around 8:15. The road is reasonable all through. Once at Pahadgarh, we visited the Pahadgarh police station and requested for 2 policemen to accompany us to the caves. Pahadgarh is known to have the dacoit issue and it is still not safe to go into the remote areas of the village. So, could not have gone ahead without the help of the police.
We had already communicated about this request, so we had no issues in getting the escorts. But overall, I would like to thank the two gentlemen for accompanying us through the hot weather and rocky terrain.
While the policemen got ready, we made a visit to the Pahadgarh fort, where we met Raju ji, who currently resides in the fort. We talked to him about the fort, the village, the caves. We also went to the roof of the fort to look around at the valley. It all looked dry in the hot weather, but I think this should be a great place to visit in winters. Raju ji was kind enough to have a person from his side to accompany us, to show the way.
We then went back to the police station, from where we are accompanied by two policemen. We bought a few more water bottles, some snacks and started the ride ahead. At around 10-12 km from the policestation, we took a right turn, off the road into the forest. We then went into the jungle, off roading for around 4-5 km, till we reached the cliff adjoining the Asan River. This cliff is called Likhichaj. This is the cliff which is known to be the home of some of the cave paintings which are easier to get to.
We had to walk down to the bottom of the cliff, to the bank of the Asan river, which at this time was mostly dried up. There, along the cliff is a a portion of rock which is a curved inwards like a balcony. In this curve several cave paintings are present. The paintings are all in red color. But sadly many have been sabotaged by tourists, who have written their names etc on them.
I walked along the cliff to see if there was any other cave, but there was not. This means that the other caves, which are said to be a much larger collection of paintings must be somewhere else. But we could not have visited them on the same day, as the weather was too hot and my motorcycle was having some issues.
We soon returned towards pahadgarh, but on the way chose to take a diverson towards a Shiva temple which was said to be quite popular in the area. The trail leading to the temple was again very bad. It was very dusty and very uneven. Plus is was around 7 kilometers, one side. In the hot weather, every kilometer seemed very long and by the time we reached the temple, we were very tired.
We rested for a while and then returned. Out of 4, two of our riders got lost on the way out. Actually, there were several trails criss crossing the route and it was easy to take the wrong one. It took them an extra 45 minutes to get out. Once out we went straight to the Police station where we thanked and big farewell to the policemen. It could not have done this without them.
My motorcycle which was having some issues since, morning finally gave up on the the way back. We tried to fix it, but we could not figure out what was wrong. So, we just towed it back to Gwalior. This is a first time since I bought it, that it has given me trouble.
A good ride overall. But we will wait for better weather to come back to find more caves. I will do more research till then so that we can cover all what is left in the next ride.