Photos: Ancient India through a geologist’s eyes

The secrets to how we got here lurk all around us. Finding and deciphering them takes time and a bit

Updated on Sep 19, 2021 04:37 PM IST 7 Photos

3.2 billion years Before Present: The Aravallis, India’s oldest mountain range, begin to take shape, as tectonic plates push against one another. Erosion over the next 2 billion years will mould them into the shape you see today. The mountains stretch 692 km, from Gujarat to Delhi, passing through Rajasthan and Haryana. The name comes from the Sanskrit words ‘ara’ and ‘vali’, which means line of peaks. (Wikimedia Commons)

65 million years Before Present: The Rajasaurus, a fierce dinosaur native to the Narmada valley, goes extinct. This carnivore with a horned crest probably even ate other dinosaurs. The Rajasaurus was probably one of the last dinosaur species to survive on the subcontinent, as around the world too, the age of the dinosaurs drew to a close. In the photo is a replica of the skull of a Rajasaurus, at the Regional Museum of Natural History in Bhopal.(Swapnil Karambelkar via Wikimedia Commons)

47 million years Before Present: The birth of the Himalayas. As the Indian Plate collides with the Eurasian Plate at the astonishing speed of 15 cm per year, the world’s highest peaks are formed. The plates continue to collide to this day, causing the Himalayas, including Mount Everest, to grow ever higher.(Landsat 7 Satellite / NASA)


1.5 million - 385,000 years Before Present: At Attirampakkam near present-day Chennai in Tamil Nadu, early man leaves behind hand-axes and cleavers. Over the next million years, things progress to the middle stone age, when tools become smaller, sleeker, sharper.(Courtesy Sharma Centre for Heritage Education)

500,000 - 600,000 years Before Present: The Narmada human dies. Geologist Arun Sonakia finds just a skull cap on the banks of the Narmada at Hathnora, a village in Madhya Pradesh, in 1982. It is the only early human (Homo erectus) fossil found in India. From it we know that India was a home, even before the Homo sapiens.  (Photo by Arun Sonakia)