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Bikramkhol Cave: A Cave Hidden and Preserved in the Arms of Mother Nature

Bikramkhol is a historic site situated in the Jharsuguda district of Odisha, India, and is located in the Belpahar Range Reserved Forest.

In the village known as Banjari, the ancient cave of Bikramkhol bears the evidence of the evolution of human civilization and a script established by them, back in 4000 B.C.

It is a crescent shaped rock shelter at the foothill. The huge rock shelter is 37 metres long, 5.65 metres wide and 8 metres tall. The main interest of the Bikramkhol cave is the depiction of various geometric and weird characters such as animal paintings, circular holes dug in the wall where arms, clothes and other objects of use were held suspended, the floors where circular holes were dug to pound the grains etc.

In a natural rock-shelter, the inscription is cited. This stone is rough sandstone. Around 35 feet by 7 feet is the inscribed section. Some letters are cut sharply.

Bikramkhol 1
Bikramkhol 2
courtesy Odishatourismplaces.com

An iron chisel seems not to have been used. Some of the letters are partially cut and partially painted, while some of the letters are just painted, and during the Brahmi inscription period it was the method used regularly.

The colour of the painting is red ochre, common to us in India’s prehistoric and historic caves and cave-buildings. The ravages of time have been resisted by drawing in monochromatic and polychromatic floral patterns. This proto-historical inscription is popularly known as the Vikramkhol inscription, which is believed to have been etched in 1500 BC.

It faces north east. Some of the letters are harshly cut, but most incision marks do not exhibit sharp cutting. An iron chisel seems not to have been used. Some of the letters are partially cut and partially painted, while some of the letters are just painted, but most of them are entirely cut.

A Fortuitous Discovery

An learned Sadhu, Swami Jnamananda, discovered the inscription. An inspection of the letters, giving the impression of having Brahmi forms at first sight, showed that the writing was a mixture of Brahmi forms and the Mohenjodaro script’s formed type. Because of that the inscription is linked to some historians as an intermediary between Harappan and earliest Brahmi. A tourist spot has been declared in Bikramkhol and visitors, historians and researchers from all over the country and from abroad come here to visit this place every year.

Despite meagre footfalls, the cave and its surroundings have been designated a ‘tourist spot’ due to a lack of basic facilities such as communication and infrastructure. However the cave at times attracts researchers and tourists due to its historical significance.

Bikramkhol 3
courtesy Odishatourismplaces.com

Surrounded by trees and other foliage, the Bikramkhol cave is 25 kilometres from the district headquarters and is situated close to the Belpahar-Sundargarh road.

The cave is 115 feet long and 27.7 feet high. The inscriptions are yet to be deciphered accurately, though many researchers and epigraphists have attempted to do so.

Getting There

The shelter is located about 26 km west of Jharsuguda. Take the Jharsuguda-Belpahar road, then the Belpahar route to Grindola. You can see a small temple called Manikeswari Temple at Grindola. Take a left turn on that road in a forest kutcha road towards Bikramkhol, a two-line footpath goes towards Bikramkhol on near Village Teteyabahal.

Jharsuguda is well connected by State Highway 10 and National Highway with other nearby cities. In town, rickshaws are available. The town has a range of reasonably priced hotels.

On the Tatanagar-Bilaspur section of the Howrah-Nagpur-Mumbai line and the Jharsuguda-Vizianagaram line, Jharsuguda is an important railway junction. The train station is part of the South Eastern Railway.

Jharsuguda has its own Jharsuguda Airport, which is located 5 km northeast of the city. Air Odisha is launching charter services from its main hub at Biju Patnaik International Airport, Bhubaneswar, to Jharsuguda Airport.

Swami Vivekananda International Airport, located in Raipur, 310 km southwest of Jharsuguda, is the nearest domestic / international airport. It’s about five hours by car from Jharsuguda to Swami Vivekananda International Airport. Contact one of the taxi operators and travel agents that have a counter at the airport to make arrangements for a taxi from the airport to Jharsuguda.

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