There is a World Heritage Site named Bhimbetka on the Bhopal-Hoshangabad highway, 45 kilometers south of Bhopal, the capital of Madhya Pradesh. When you are going from Bhopal towards Hoshangabad then you will see a special rock group on a small hill on your right. In the first view these rock groups appear to be very unique. This is the site of the famous rock paintings of Bhimbetka. When you turn on the route leading to these caves from the main road, then a train gate will come in the way which is closed most of the time. You may have to wait a few moments here. This gate is opened for a few moments as soon as enough trains are assembled and there is no time for the arrival of the train.
At this place, while waiting for the gate to open, you can spend some time refreshing in Madhya Pradesh Tourism’s refreshments, because after that you will not have anything to eat. Neither drinking water. This place is a suitable place for photographers to take pictures of Bhimbetka Shailasraya from a distance.
Bhimbetka – the most ancient human heritage
Bhimbetka caves are the oldest archaic human heritage of India, which is about 10,000 years old. These rocks are presumably dating back to the period when the region was probably an ocean. The smooth and circular shapes of the rocks are believed to be formed by the waves of the ocean.
More than 450 rock shelters have been discovered in the forests here. There are cave paintings in more than 400 of them, out of which only 20 caves are available for public viewing. The paintings in these caves are of different times when there must have been a prehistoric heritage of that period.
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Originally red and white colors have been used in Bhimbetka cave paintings. Green and yellow colors are also visible in some places. The red color is best preserved in these colors. The reason for this is probably the red color density. White colors appear to have the most blur. They may be the most ancient.
Bhimbetka cave paintings – prehistoric rock paintings
Many pictures have been painted on a picture in many places. This indicates that painters of different ages have repainted at the same place. It could also mean a ritualistic painting that was regularly repeated.
The style of painting here seems to be at par with Warli painting and Madhubani painting. Geometric drawings have been used prominently to represent human figures. Only one place showed the absence of geometric graphs to display the human figure. It was probably the image of Shiva or a meditated sage. Some of the pictures were so bright as if they were painted a few days ago. It becomes hard to believe that they are prehistoric paintings. There is a desire to remove doubts by touching them. Some images also appear to be untouched by dust particles surrounding them.
Prehistoric art themes
Human figures, animals, birds, flowers, trees etc.
Cave paintings of Bhimbetka have predominance of animal figures. After this, the human figures respectively and occasionally the shapes of trees and flowers become visible. One of the most popular rocks here is the Animal Garden. All types of animals have been painted on this rock using red and white colors. Finding various animals in those pictures can be an exciting exercise for young tourists.
The rock paintings of Bhimbetka have many battle scenes depicting kings and soldiers riding horses. In these paintings, the kings can be identified by their ornate horse and occasionally by the canopy painted on them. In these pictures you can also identify the sword and other weapons of that period. It is difficult to say whether these pictures portrayed the victory of victory in a war or depicted a depiction of a war.
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There are many scenes in these paintings in which the community lifestyle of humans of that period is depicted. In these pictures you can see groups of people eating and drinking together, dancing, playing musical instruments, performing various rituals and enjoying life. Couple couples have also been shown at many places. Most of these paintings are painted on the roof of the cave.
Our tourism visitor told us that for the painting of these paintings, the painters had specifically selected the places where the rainwater did not reach. My conscience was telling me that once upon a time, the entire surface of the caves must have been painted, but the same picture has remained safe where the rainwater has not reached. You can see that the pictures of the outer parts of the caves are relatively blurred than the pictures of the inner parts.
In addition to rock formations, there is a courtyard-like structure. According to our explorer this may be a free-standing. Community gatherings may have been held here. The shilakhand in the middle of the courtyard may be the seat of the head of the community or the king. But all these are our thoughts. There are no references available to certify them.
There is a cave temple about 100 meters away from the face of the cave, which is still a lively temple. We were told that this temple was established by the Pandavas when they came here in their unknown abode. In fact, the name Bhimbetka refers to Bhima which means the meeting of Bhima.
Bhimbetka discovery of Madhya Pradesh
In this way, many important caves and forgotten ancient structures of India were discovered by the nomadic British officers. But, on the contrary, Bhimbetka caves were discovered by an Indian. Bhimbetka caves were discovered by Dr. Vishnu Sridhar Wakankar in 1958. He did a detailed study of this site for Vikram University in Ujjain.
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They classified different types of rocks and rock formations. Subsequently, the Archaeological Survey of India excavated the site. Prior to the discovery of prehistoric caves at this place, this area was considered a Buddhist area full of stupas. But these caves point to the continuous presence of human life from prehistoric times to the medieval period, that is, from ages to ages.
Bhimbetka Caves Visited
Before coming here, I had read many reviews about this place. Many tourists who had visited here earlier also gave the same review that you cannot spend more than 2 hours here. Most tourists spend about half an hour here on an average. But after coming here, it seemed to me that I should visit this place more closely. Spend more and more time here. Apart from this, I wished that I also got permission to visit the caves which are closed for tourists. I saw only one guide here ie guide who was trying to cover the entire philosophy in 10 to 12 minutes. It would be appropriate if you also carry the guide book issued by the Archaeological Survey of India Department. From this you can visit the caves in sequence and get detailed information about the pictures.
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Looking at these caves, a thought arises in my mind that the painters of that period would have been only hopeful that this one day art of theirs would prove to be a good way to understand their lifestyle and lifestyle. Looking at these caves, an idea also arises that to live a blissful life, is there any need other than a roof and two loaves of bread?
After seeing Bhimbetka caves, I would say that this place is an excellent and indispensable tourist destination for those interested in human history.
When you come here to visit Bhimbetka Caves near Bhopal, then also visit Bhojpur Shiva Temple (Bhojeshwar Temple) near it. The stupas of Sanchi are also not far from here.
Translation: Madhumita Tamhane