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Rock Art of India: First Evidence, Importance and its Types

Context: The first evidence of rock art in Mangaluru city has been discovered near the Boloor Panne Koteda Babbu Swamy shrine.

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  • The rock art consists of a pair of human footprints found on a natural stone boulder near the shrine, possibly created in the first or second century A.D.
  • The discovery is part of an effort to recreate the history of Babbu Swamy, undertaken in collaboration with the Minchinabavi Kordabbu Trust, Padubidri, Udupi district.
  • It suggested a need to search for similar art forms near other Babbu Swamy shrines.
  • The rock art found near the Babbu Swamy shrine in Boloor does not have any relative evidence connecting it to other known sites.

Rock Arts of India

Rock arts are archaic, man-made markings, paintings, or sculptures produced on natural stone.

Types of Rock Art

  • Petroglyphs: Carvings on rock surfaces.
  • Pictographs: Images painted on rock surfaces.
  • Earth Figures: Constructions made on the ground.

Importance of Rock Art

  • Spiritual and Cultural Legacy:
    • Represents humanity’s rich spiritual and cultural heritage.
    • Valued globally, regionally, and locally for its beauty, symbolism, and narrative complexity.
  • Cultural Traditions:
    • Helps societies recognize and learn about diverse cultural traditions and their ancient roots.
    • Tribal tribes use rock art to maintain cultural links through customs inscribed in the art.
  • Source of History:
    • Serves as a historical record, documenting local communities’ hunting habits and ways of life.

Check here for complete details about Prehistoric Rock Paintings.

History of Babbu Swami / Kordabbu Daiva

  • Birth and Early Life:
    • Babbu was born in Kemmannu, near Udupi, in a Dalit family.
    • His mother, Kachhur Maldi, died in an accident shortly after his birth.
  • Adoption:
    • Kodanga Bannara, the owner of the prestigious ‘Kodi kandala’ house, found Babbu alone and took him to his house.
    • Babbu was raised by Kodanga Bannara and his sister Siriginde Ullaldi, who treated him with great care and never discriminated against him.
  • Notable Childhood Feats:
    • Babbu grew into a handsome young man and performed many remarkable feats.
    • Despite being mistreated by upper-caste children, he overcame all obstacles.
  • Famous Incident with Kapila:
    • Enemies forced Kodi Kondala’s famous cow, Kapila, into a lake.
    • Babbu used his magic to dry the lake and rescue the cow.
  • Skills and Recognition:
    • Known for his medicinal skills, earning the title
    • His achievements, despite being a Dalit, caused jealousy and led to plans to end his popularity.
  • Summoned by the King:
    • Babbu was summoned by the King of Katpadi Beedu to resolve an issue with a newly built well.
    • Suspecting trouble, Babbu and Kodanga Bannara went to Katpadi Beedu.
    • Babbu was trapped in the well by the King’s men, who removed the ladder and covered the well with a huge stone.
    • Despite efforts by Rajan Daivas and Koti Chennayya, Babbu remained trapped until Tanniga Maaniga helped him escape by drawing sixteen lines on the stone.
  • Transformation into Daiva:
    • Tanniga Maaniga and Babbu became brother and sister.
    • Babbu’s punishment was to give some blood from his forehead, marking his transformation into a Daiva.
  • Journey and Legacy:
    • Babbu travelled throughout Tulunad, with Kodi Kondala’s house remaining his prime residence.
    • Another significant house for Babbu was Kunju Poojary’s house, where he was well-treated and made it his pride.


It is believed that “Daiva Kordabbu” is an Incarnation of “Lord Shiva”.
Types of Daivas in Tulunad
  • Purposeful Daivas: Those who come to the land with specific objectives, e.g., Panjurli, Jumadi, Pilichamundi.
  • Human-born Daivas: Those who are born as humans and later become Daivas, e.g. Babbu, Kalkuda.

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