- Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh
Best Time To Visit
- September to February
Today artists look for air-conditioned art galleries to display their art
forms. But long ago there was an art gallery of a different sort -
Bhimbetka. Bhimbetka was where man expressed his artistic yearnings some
10,000 years ago. The rock shelters are located about 45 km from Bhopal in
Madhya Pradesh. The place has a treasure of hundreds of paintings that
depict the pre-historic way of life. Bhimbetka is believed to have had
continuous habitation. Bhimbetka is a breathtaking site. It is incredible in
terms of locale and the longevity of occupation. One can say that there are
multiple histories immortalized here.
The rock shelters of Bhimbetka has been named after Bhim Vatika or garden
of Bhima, the Pandava prince in Mahabharata. The site is spread over 10 km
in length and about 3 km in width. There are over 700 rock shelters, of
which over 400 have paintings that date back to 5,500-1,000 BC. The
paintings range from the Upper Palaeolithic, Mesolithic Age to the
proto-historic, early historic and medieval periods.
Rock Art and Paintings
The paintings of Bhimbetka are very inspiring and artistic. The main ones ,
named the Auditorium Rock Shelters, Zoo Rock and Boar Rock depict animals
such as elephant, sambhar, bison, deer, tiger, lion, lizard and crocodile.
Everyday activities like hunting, dancing and drinking are also depicted.
Scenes of childbirth, religious rites and burials can also be found among
the paintings. The works have been done mainly in red and white with the
occasional use of green and yellow. The paintings have not lost their charm
and still look very much lively because the colours were probably prepared
by combining manganese, hematite, soft red stone and wooden charcoal, mixed
with animal fat and extracts of leaves.
Most of the paintings have been done on the walls, some can also be seen on
the ceilings. The shelters have been made by massive sandstone outcrops
within a forest. They were hidden from visitors for hundreds of years till
archaeologist VS Wakankar saw them from train in 1957 and revisited to study
them in detail. Continuous discoveries have been done here which has made
the place a treasure trove for archeology enthusiasts even today. Bhimbetka
was first mentioned in Indian archaeological records in 1888 as a Buddhist
site. Around fifteen caves of Bhimbetka are open to the public.
Feather to the Cap
The rock shelters of Bhimbetka have been designated as a UNESCO World
Heritage Site in 2003. These caves are being preserved for posterity as they
are a treasure trove of history and art from time. Bhimbetka is said to be
the oldest human settlement in India and one of the oldest sites in the
world where petroglyphs were found.