Prehistoric Painted Rock Shelter or Chalukyan Workshop? New Discovery of a Rock Art Site near Aihole and Its Examination in Context

Publication Type:

Journal Articles


Heritage: Journal of Multidisciplinary Studies in Archaeology , Volume 6, p.529‐554 (2018)



Aihole, Badami Chalukyas, Early Temples, Megaliths, Painted Inscriptions, Pictograph, Rock Art


We report the discovery of a hitherto unreported rock art site in the neighbourhood of a recently uncovered single‐celled shrine at Benakanawari, near Aihole. The shrine is located deep inside a cleft of the sandstone ranges near Benakanawari, between Pattadakal and Aihole, at the foot of an escarpment. The painted rock shelter, which is roughly at a height of 25m in the cliffs above the temple, is formed by two large slabs of sandstone, collapsed and resting against a natural overhang, and contains a painted image as well as painted inscriptions in ochre and white. The inscriptions are in 8th century Kannada script as well as modern Kannada script, the former being definitely of Early Chalukyan provenance. In this paper, we describe the newly discovered site as well as the context in which it is located, and attempt to understand the possible use(s) it might have been put to.