Bhimbetka Rock Shelters

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, takes you back from where we really started.

Bhimbetka - The Unusual Rock Shelters

Madhya Pradesh has a rich history which dates back to the pre-historic era. 

Bhimbetka is surely one of them.

Hidden in the rocky terrains of the Vindhyas, amidst the thick forests and rugged formations, lie the rock shelters of Bhimbetka, around 50 kms from Bhopal on the NH 46 which connects Bhopal with Hoshangabad. An archaeological site of incredible value, it is dated from the Paleolithic period (Paleolithic : denoting the early phase of the Stone Age, lasting about 2.5 million years, when primitive stone implements were used ).

Over 600 rock shelters have actually been discovered in this complex, which points out to evidences from early human habitations that existed millions of years back, in the then existing form of cave art. The vibrant paintings on the walls of these rock shelters portray as well as illustrate the lives of ancient Indian early occupants who lived in the caves and are an immensely precious chronicle of the history of man. It might appear that this site is implied purely for the historical connoisseurs, however even a commoner will be delighted to be here, for it is difficult to stay unsusceptible to the sheer appeal of the spectacular artwork} which transmits back to those times.

The paintings are basically categorized under seven different periods of time, varying from the Upper Paleolithic and Mesolithic age, to the early historic and medieval ages. Safeguarded, secured and preserved by the Archeological Survey of India, Bhimbetka is one of the three UNESCO World Heritage sites in Madhya Pradesh, the other two being Sanchi & Khajuraho.


Bhimbetka refers to “Bhima’s sitting place”. Bhima was a heroic God from Mahabharata. The rock shelters of Bhimbetka in Madhya Pradesh are considered to be the Paleolithic archeological site. They exhibit the erstwhile traces of humanity from the inception of Stone Age in Indian Subcontinent.


Bhimbetka is located in Dist.Raisen in Madhya Pradesh. Bhimbetka Rock Shelters were occupied around 300,000 years ago by the Homo erectus. In these rock shelters, some of the rock paintings of South Asian Stone Age are around 30000 years old. You can also find the earliest evidences of dance in Bhimbetka Cave. In 2003, Bhimbetka Caves were announced as UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Moving around Bhimbhetka is very well defined by extremely well placed arrows for directions to complete the circuit of all ther caves which are easily understandable. There are also display screens & motifs showcasing relevant information about the paintings. These really assist a visitor offering a fantastic understanding of the historical & archeological perquisite theses caves and paintings offer. The paintings at Bhimbhetka are amongst one of the earliest transcribed exhibition of human expressions, creativity and imagination. Worth appreciating is the fact that the paintings were specifically drawn in the crevices, walls and the sheltered hollow spaces so that they endured the test of time. This forth sightedness ensured these drawings and paintings were not exposed to the weather and the rains which would have surely damaged them by now.
The paintings have actuall been carried out primarily in red and white colours, with the periodic usage of green and yellow. The colours were infact prepared by integrating locally available manganese, redstone and even the fat of animals sometimes. Apart from human figures, animals such as bisons, tiger, wild boars, dogs, elephants and crocodiles have actually been frequently replicated. Of the primary groups of shelters, the one on Bhimbetka hill on the top is quickly assessable and even noticeable from the national highway 46 running close to it. One of the very first noticeable painting is that of a child’s handprint in red inside a cave. You might have to strain your eyes a bit up until you see it,however it will captivate you – just because, for the visitor, this is the very first evidence of human existence at the shelters. In reality, there is even a trench here in which human skeletal remains were apparently discovered.
As you venture ahead, you will see representations of numerous scenes from the lives, dreams and creativity of the cave inhabitants who painted these brilliant images. Common practices during those times, events such as community dancing, animals & human fight engagements and battles are depicted. Remarkably, there are a couple of symbols that are frequently depicted more often in the paintings. The very first of these are of human figures participating in various activities. The most fascinating specimen is a display of a painting of a celebratory scene – stick figure dancing around a main figure, who is playing a musical sort of instrument. Animal images has been frequently used in almost all the paintings. Despite the fact that a few of the paintings are a little faded, one still acknowledges the showcasing of numerous species of animals used extensively — deer, Bull, ox,tiger and elephants.
Another most prominent amongst these is a painting on a mushroom shaped rock which exhibits a figure of an animal that resembles a huge boar with a big snout, which literally appears to be a legendary animal. Just across the snout of the boar, there is a relatively tiny drawn figure of a human, probably depicting the huge size of the boar, and in front of this figure is a crab – an diverting drawing undoubtedly. Symbols of individual and community hunting as well as combat scenes are frequented enough in the drawings. A brilliant example of this is the graphic illustration of an elephant and a bull, injured by the arrow of a Hunter. These figures have actually been superimposed on an earlier drawn illustration of a horse rider coming face to face with a soldier. This can be interpreted as how the same locations were utilized by various individuals at different time zones. Paintings of royals, soldiers and horse and elephant riders are all evidences of combat scenes. Painting number 7 reveals 2 riders participating in a battle.


Bhim Baithaka or Bhimbetaka rock shelters are located at the southernmost part of Vindhyachal Mountain Ranges and around 45 km south of Bhopal. Dense green vegetation covers the entire area of Bhimbetaka. The rich flora and fauna, natural shelters, perennial water supplies, and natural resources are found here because of its recurrent supplies of water.

It stunningly resembles the Kakadu National Park and several rock art sites in Australia, paintings in Lascaux Upper Paleolithic cave in France and Bushmen paintings in Kalahari Desert.


Come meet us up close

Ancient tales etched in unfinished monuments

Climate & Best time to visit Bhimbetka

Bhimbhetka Rock Shelters, the Prehistoric Picture Gallery of the World.

Best Places to stay at Bhimbetka

MPT Highway Treat, Bhimbhetka is a recommended place to stopover for refreshments or lunch while visiting Bhimbhetka, even if one does not stay there.

How to reach Bhimbetka

Bhimbhetka Rock Shelters is a 1.5 hrs drive from Bhopal & can be visited as a day trip from Bhopal. Tourists can also visit Bhimbhetka while going to Satpura National Park from Bhopal or Sanchi.

Discovery of Bhimbetka

Bhimbetka Rock Shelters was discovered by Mr V. S. Vakankar, a renowned archeologist in Madhya Pradesh

Rock Paintings of Bhimbetka Rock Shelters

Bhimbetka Rock Shelters are a UNESCO World Heritage site showcases one of the finest collections of Prehistoric Rock Paintings.

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