Bhimbetka caves and Mesolithic rock paintings, Photo journal
Bhimbetaka has 243 caves. We couldn't see them all in a day, but what we did see was amazing…
At home in caves…
This cave shelter at Bhimbetka got my imagination flowing… How could anyone live here given the sloping floor and the high, slippery wall one needed to climb in order to reach this cave otherwise made welcome by wall paintings some millennia old!
Bhimbetka caves: a UNESCO World heritage site
My imagination seemed stunted in this prehistoric cave colony which is a UNESCO World heritage site. On our way to Bhopal from Pachmarhi hill-station in Madhya Pradesh, we stopped at Bhimbetka, about 45 km from Bhopal.
While Pachmarhi had Pandav caves, Bhimbetka is also said to get its name from the third Pandav brother Bhim. Bhim was a huge man, it is said, and some caves at Bhimbetka are large enough to accommodate giants. In the local dialect, Bhimbetka means, 'Bhim's drawing room'.
The entrance cave, named 'auditorium' is where research scholars like to camp. It can hold a hundred visitors in one go. Well, our group of 100 was not enough to fill the massive cave.
Finding our way around Bhimbetka cave shelters
Bhimbetka caves lie in district Raisen of Madhya Pradesh, at the southern edge of the forested Vindhya range. The site has 243 caves. We couldn't see them all in a day, but what we did see was amazing…
Exploring pathways in the Bhimbetka jungle
A cave colony!
People lived here, since Paleolithic times it is said, but the paintings are from the Mesolithic period and later.
Here's our guide introducing us to a protected cave. We weren't allowed to touch the rocks. The place is some thousands of years old and time has played its part :-(
Rock shelters, Bhimbetka
Time to see the paintings :-)
The earliest paintings on the cave walls are believed to be of the Mesolithic period. Hunting scenes, community scenes, animals such as bison, deer, rhino, and horse (horse is considered a more recent addition) painted in vegetable colours blended with animal fat, wood coal, etc. give a glimpse of the aesthetic sensibilities of Bhimbetka's inhabitants.
That's a tortoise formation rock, a petroform?
This rock looks like a tortoise perched as security guard overlooking the heritage caves. Do you see the expanse of sky and earth behind the tortoise? This is the heritage site's buffer zone!
Incidentally, the toilets here are true to the stone age. Check them out when you get there ;-)
How to reach Bhimbetka
Bhopal airport is 40 km from Bhimbetka.
Bhopal's railway station is on the Delhi-Chennai and Delhi-Mumbai mainline and easy to reach.
Bhimbetka is connected by bus with Bhopal, and other destination in Madhya Pradesh.
Photo credits: Anisha Sharma