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.
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.
History of Discovery
According to the citation of UNESCO which declares Bhimbetka Rock Shelters as World Heritage Site, the rock caves of Bhimbetka was mentioned first in the archeological records of India as Buddhist site in the year 1888, according to the data collected from locals. Later on, some rock formations were found by V.S. Wakankar when he was traveling by train. They were similar to the rock caves he had seen in France and Spain. In 1957, he gathered an archeologists’ team and visited the site and found a lot of primeval rock shelters.
Meanwhile, over 750 other rock shelters were identified and 178 of them belong to LakhaJuar Group and 243 of them belong to Bhimbetka group. According to the archeological studies, a frequent sequence from the late Mesolithic and Acheulian age was revealed. Some of the oldest stone floors and walls of the world from Stone Age were also found in Bhimbetka.Some of the monoliths found at Bhimbetka have the raw materials which were used at Barkheda.
Rock Paintings and Arts
A lot of paintings are found in the caves and rock shelters of Bhimbetka. Some oldest paintings are believed to be around 30000 years old. But they are estimated to be from mediaeval period as per some geometric figures. They used vegetable colors for paintings and drawings and they are made deep on the inner walls or inside a niche. The paintings and drawings over here are believed to be from 7 individual periods.
Upper Paleolithic (Period 1) : In dark red and green, the linear symbols of animals like tigers, bison and rhinoceroses are from Upper Paleolithic Period.
Mesolithic (Period II) : The stylized figurines are quite smaller in size. These human figures represent the linear decorations. These figures exhibit the hunting scenes and give clear insight of weapons used in Mesolithic period, such as pointed sticks, barbed spears, arrows and bows. You can find rhythmic actions in the form of portrayal of birds, communal dances, children and mothers, musical instruments, men lifting heavy and dead animals, pregnant women etc.
Chalcolithic (Period III) : The Chalcolithic paintings exhibit the relationship between cave dwellers and agriculture-based communities during that period in the Malwa regions. In these paintings, they are bartering goods with each other.
Early Historic (Period IV and V) : In this group, the figures have a decorative and systematic style. They are basically painted in white, red and yellow. They depict the cultural symbols, riders, tunic dresses and scripts from several periods. These figures are believed to be of tree gods, yakshas, and enchanted sky chariots.
Medieval (Period VI and VII) : These paintings are schematic and geometrically linear. They exhibit crudeness and degeneration in artistic manner. The cave dwellers were mixed hematite, manganese and wooden coal to prepare colors to use in these paintings.
The Zoo Rock exhibits several animals like sambar, elephants, deer and bison. On another rock, the paintings of a snake, peacock, deer and the sun were made. In these medieval paintings, some of the structures of arrows, bows, swords, and shield carried by hunters while hunting are depicted.
The best time to visit Bhimbhetka is between Sept to March.
How to Reach Bhimbhetka
Bhimbhetka is just 50 kms from the nearest airport, Bhopal. Pre-paid taxis are available from the airport.
The nearest railhead is at Bhopal which is a major rail junction.
You can easily get regular cabs to Bhimbhetka from Bhopal. It’s advisable to club Bhimbhetka with Bhojpur & Sanchi.
Tour Packages for Bhimbhetka
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