Exploring Goa’s best kept secret – the petroglyphs

On the banks of a river in South Goa, there are a hundred odd rock art carvings, dating back to prehistoric times. Read on to find out more.
Rock carving of labyrinth in Usgalimal

Rock carving of labyrinth in Usgalimal

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In the interiors of Goa, far from city life, is the village of Usgalimal (also called Pansaimol), in Sanguem taluka, that holds a secret of Goa’s prehistoric past. Tucked away in the forest, this place is more like a prehistoric museum.

<div class="paragraphs"><p>The laterite rock bed facing the river</p></div>

The laterite rock bed facing the river

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To reach here, one needs to travel to South of Goa. Usgalimal is located between Rivona and Netravali villages. A couple of signboards of the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) along the roadside will help you locate the protected site.

Closer to the site is another ASI board that guides you along a narrow mud road. The terrain is rocky, therefore, it is advisable that you make this journey on foot. However, you can also take a vehicle up to the spot. When you see the flowing river, you will know that you have reached your destination!

<div class="paragraphs"><p>A quarry close to the site of the petroglyphs&nbsp;</p></div>

A quarry close to the site of the petroglyphs 

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About the rock carvings

Situated on the banks of the River Kushavati (a tributary of the River Zuari) is a laterite rock bed, with over 100 unique rock carvings – petroglyphs. This site is believed to date back 6,000-7,000 years, judging by the stone artifacts found here. However, due to the absence of carbon dating and other scientific studies, the exact timeline is not known. But, historians have placed this site as one of the oldest sites of rock art in Goa, and perhaps in India.

<div class="paragraphs"><p>Rock carvings of animals</p></div>

Rock carvings of animals

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This site lay buried and unknown for years, until it was unearthed and identified by the Directorate of Archives and Archaeology, Goa. They cleared the area and brought to light the petroglyphs.

‘Petroglyphs’ are etchings made on the rock surface using, either, a chisel or a hammerstone. Such petroglyphs and rock art are found all over the world. The oldest rock carving in the country can be found at Bhimbetka, Madhya Pradesh.

<div class="paragraphs"><p>Rock carving of a human figure&nbsp;</p></div>

Rock carving of a human figure 

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Details in the rock carvings

This rock art narrates a story of life in the past. It gives a sense of how people lived, or what people saw, thousands of years ago. It gives an insight into prehistoric times. From the carvings, one can identify animals such as the zebu bull, deer, gaur, etc. Scenes of animals chasing, animals in a sitting posture, hunting scenes can be also identified.

<div class="paragraphs"><p>An animal figure is just one of many rock art forms found in the area</p></div>

An animal figure is just one of many rock art forms found in the area

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Believed to be a labyrinth, one of the oldest symbols can be spotted. It looks more like a maze with several dividing paths and dead ends, meandering to the center; however, the real reason behind its presence there is an enigma. You can easily spot the labyrinth as you head towards the south end of the site. Other engravings in the shape of a human, feet, dog, bull, peacock can be seen at the spot.

<div class="paragraphs"><p>Rock carving depicting a newborn&nbsp;</p></div>

Rock carving depicting a newborn 


Best time to visit

The best time to visit the place is anywhere between 9 am to 6 pm. Post sunset, the place turns pitch dark and it is not advisable to be there. Also, during the monsoon season, the area tends to get flooded with water as the water level rises, making it unsafe.

<div class="paragraphs"><p>A peacock rock carving seen at the site&nbsp;&nbsp;</p></div>

A peacock rock carving seen at the site  

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The river, peaceful ambiance, and more

The river flows adjacent to the rock bed, and during the monsoons, the area is under water. Rivers used to be an important element for early settlers. All their daily activities revolved around the river and that is why historians and archaeologist believe that this site, too, is an important feature of that area.

<div class="paragraphs"><p>Plantations close to the river</p></div>

Plantations close to the river

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Opposite the banks of the river, one can see areca nut plantations, adding to the beauty of the place. The place is like a cradle surrounded by forest, river and tranquility. The main area of the settlement some distance from the site, and therefore, you will find very few people near the site. However, you can spot villagers searching for logs of firewood for their daily activities. The authorities have also appointed a guide to help people locate the carvings.

<div class="paragraphs"><p>Large foot shaped carvings&nbsp;</p></div>

Large foot shaped carvings 

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This place is sure to thrill anyone wanting to explore Goa beyond its beaches, and understand what makes its culture so unique. Besides its historical importance, the place is surrounded with beauty and one can undoubtedly experience a sense of calm and peace here.

A gem of a place, located in the interiors of the forest, it is something one needs to experience. On your return, don’t forget to pick up a variety of fresh, local produce, which is organically grown by the locals.

WHERE: Usgalimal, South Goa

BEST TIME TO VISIT: 9 am to 6 pm. Avoid going after dark & during the monsoons.


- Exclamations Goa: (https://www.facebook.com/exclamationsgoa/)

- Soul Travelling : (https://www.soultravelling.in/)

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