Rock Art Hunting in the Himalayas


It was only a century ago that archeologists discovered the rich heritage in rock art scattered across Ladakh. Why not follow your nose and explore the plateau and riversides of the Indus to find your own prehistoric art. What a wonderful way to attend to the land and its history!

Chasing rock art in the Himalayas can be akin to a Dalrymplesque journey into the not-so-recent past of the Mughals. The difference here is that the rock art here takes the viewer into pre-historic times or the Iron Age to be precise. What you get is a glimpse into pre-historic life in Ladhak and a chance to uncover a new petroglyph as most of Ladhak is still to be archeologically discovered.

Petroglyphs as you will realise are a wealth of information about ancient life. Yes, they are mostly reddish but startlingly beautiful like the stag drawing in Domkhar. Study equally intriguing Pictographs on the Tangste Boulders enroute to Pangong Tso behind the Gompa or Monastry here. 

It is interesting that India ranks sixth in the world as a storehouse of petroglyphs and Ladhak ranks high in India. Archeology in Ladhak has been at a slower pace compared to the rest of India, and therefore finding your own rock art may not be a far-fetched idea after all.

Petroglyphs here are mostly in animal themes with even the human figures resembling animals. The historic importance of Ladhak being a pass between India, Pakistan and China is why rock art study here is considered to be intriguing.

Explore the glyphs at Shara village, along the Zanskar River, Dha, Kharu, Zabo Thang and Ledo village along with the Domkhar Sanctuary, which has the finest collection.

Even the stay at Tanjuk Homestay is an experience by itself and it is as close as you will ever get to Ladhaki life. The art found here have the clear stamps of Stone Age to the Buddhist era showing the love for illustration of the ancient people of the place.

Rock art hunting in the summers can be scorching and you will need lots of sun tan lotion. Winters in Ladhak bring in the festivals here and the locals celebrate it with colourful clothes and food. Visitors are adviced to stick to vegetarian meals and stock up on water and purification tablets.

Enjoy the Zanskar valley, which has been the latest entrant among trekking enthusiasts and try white water rafting in the Zanskar River. Both Zanskar and the Indus rivers provide ample whitewater rafting opportunities with rapids from Grade I to Grade V.

Highlights

  • Finding your first piece of rock art.

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