Monks, Caves and Kings: On eve of International Dance Day, Walkers explore earliest depiction of dance on stone-caves

Bhubaneswar: On the eve of International Dance Day, visitors at the 21st Monks, Caves and Kings Heritage walks over the twin hillocks of Khandagiri and Udayagiri were delighted to explore the earliest depiction of dance forms, in full costume with musicians and other accompanying artistes on the walls of Rani Gumpha (Queens’ caves) rock-cut caves.

These earliest depiction of dance forms believed to be made during the regime of the legendary King Kharavela, shows female dancers with full costumes of dance, performing in group along with a set of musicians playing various instruments like flute and drums, while the adjoining panel shows the royal family watching the performance. As per experts this particular depictions provide evidence to the strong royal patronage for art and dance forms in those days, nearly 2000 years ago. The formal attire of dancers and completeness of the dance forms depicted on these carved entrance panels of the rock-cut caves also hints towards the evolutions of dance forms in this part of the country at that time, which might have contributed further towards development of refined classical dance forms, says experts.

Walkers at today’s heritage walk included a nine year old kid Gayatri Satpathy who had come to the walk with her Grandfather S S Krishnan, apart from a dozen odd young professionals and students. Participants at the heritage walk were engrossed with these artistic marvels on stones accompanied by beautifully narrated stories by guide Satya Swaroop Mishra on these manmade rock-cut caves, regime of King Kharavela, transition and influence of different religions reflecting in the changing sculptures and art forms on the caves and the historic inscriptions.

Delighted at the experience of exploring the caves, sculptures and stories associated with it, the little kid Gayatri Satpathy got many of her spontaneous queries on the kings and use of the different caves answered during the walk, which were also very educative for the other participants. Experiencing her first ever guided heritage walk at the twin hills of Udayagiri and Khandagiri, she expressed keenness to visit it again with her parents and elder sister on another Saturday.

Appreciating the initiative and beautifully curated walk along the twin hills with rich heritage and history, S S Krishnan, a native of God’s own country Kerala and consultant to Oxfam for eastern region, said “The ancient rock-cut caves and beautiful sculptures along with exciting stories associated with each of them makes this one of the best places for tourists, scholars and heritage enthusiast alike.” Children should experience and explore these beautiful creations of our history and involved in the rich storytelling tradition of India, he added, citing that he chose to bring his granddaughter for this walk for this purpose.

It may be mentioned here that on the occasion of International Dance Day, tomorrow (29th April), eminent Odisi exponent Padma Shri Illeana Citaristi will be participating in the Old City heritage walk ‘Ekamra Walks’ sharing insights on the depiction of various dance forms and mudras on temple wall in the heritage rich old town are of Bhubaneswar.