Agra, November 7
Union culture minister Prahlad Singh Patel has assured to initiate measures to protect the precious pre-historic heritage of cave paintings in the Fatehpur Sikri area.
A delegation of conservationists from Agra met the minister on Saturday and raised the issue of these paintings. The delegation presented a memorandum demanding restoration of the caves, conservation of the paintings, and promotion of the whole area as a tourist spot.
Environmentalist Devashish Bhattacharya, who was also a part of the delegation, told IANS that the Minister evinced keen interest and promised to visit the area soon to discuss conservation efforts.
In its memorandum, the delegation said a large number of rock paintings of the pre-historic era were under threat due to negligence in the Aravali hills bordering Fatehpur Sikri, the deserted capital of Mughal emperor Akbar.
Conservationists in Agra have demanded that the Archaeological Survey of India should take over the whole area and take steps for their conservation, as these were valuable heritage assets.
The area around Fatehpur Sikri was once a thriving and prosperous urban cluster, inhabited by Kshatriyas and Jains who built numerous structures that are now in a shambles.
Conservationists have in fact been voicing their concern and repeatedly asking for large-scale excavations in the area which they claim is full of ruined ancient structures.
A group has now launched a campaign to draw attention to the negligence towards these pre-historic cave paintings in the hills around half a dozen villages. They say several sites of the Mesolithic period containing rock shelters of the pre-historic era are exposed to the vagaries of nature.
The villages where these paintings are still visible include Jajauli, Bandrauli, Patsal, Madanpura, Rasulpur, and Churyari.
Researchers and conservationists say these rock shelters (rock art) date back to more than 3000 years and can in fact be up to 5000 years old.
As they lay as unprotected relics of the past in the Aravali ranges, infamous for illegal stone mining, the threat of major destruction and losses looms large.
Devashish Bhattacharya said: “These six identified villages in the Fatehpur Sikri area are most backward since there is hardly any infrastructural growth, as funds and focus had been on the world heritage site Fatehpur Sikri, barely four centuries old. The fort of Fatehpur Sikri is itself built upon an ancient Jain temple and needs further excavation.” IANS