Located around five kilometres to the southern of the city of Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh in India, lies a lovely historical site filled with natural memories. This land called Bhimbetka is a beautiful creation of rocks on small hills. Anyone who first sees the rock shelters of Bhimbetka would be spellbound and rightly so as the entire scene really astounds you. There is a railway crossing here which is always closed and is opened only when there are lot of vehicles near the crossing point. This is one point that is a photographer’s delight, as the entire stretch of land seems to wait for him.
The rock shelters at Bhimbetka are a very ancient formation and go back to around 10,000 years ago. The rocks here are said to be from that time when the areas was a huge ocean and the rocks got this form after incessantly hitting against the sea waves. Bhimbetka is a place where you would find around 750 rock shelters and these have been discovered from the jungles. There are at least 400 painting here and only around 20 caves are open for the tourists. The caves have beautiful paintings dating back to many historical periods. With the majority of them being painted in white and red, there are some in yellow and green too. There is certain richness about the red colour and alongwith the yellow and the green are to be bought. The caves have paintings showing about a period of the past. Paintings here had to re done –and these revealed that there are people who want to see a decorated rock structure.
With predominant style as Warli, there is a lot of Madhubani painting too. With geometrical drawings to depict figures, there is a non geometrical figure that could be meditating either Indian sage or Lord Shiva. Some paintings are very fresh and it is impossible to believe that these are old paintings belonging to a special time.
The paintings have many animals, then of course humans and sometimes small trees. Flowers and rocks are also major features here. War scenes and sights of soldiers on horses are also shown here. The king is easily recognizable as he has a decorated horse. Sometimes artists show a king having an umbrella on top. There are scenes that show a lot of community loving and have people dancing, singing and laughing. This place was chosen by all the artists as the water here could not go anywhere and so the paintings would survive. There is another feeling that paintings were there everywhere but due to the floods and the due to water coming in, these were destroyed. Those, which were not touched, remained intact.
The rock shelters are not the only ones in Bhimbetka. Besides this you also have a potential auditorium like structure. This is the place where the community gatherings were perhaps held in ancient times. There is a rock like structure in the centre. Tis could be the throne. It is believed that maybe the throne was used by a headman or a king.
Thee is a cave temple around 100 metres from the entry point of Bhimbetka. This is a cave temple that was maybe a practicing temple. It is said that this temple was the temple that was set on fired by the Pandavas during the time they wee in exile. IN fact, Bhimbetka means Bheema who used to sit.
The rock shelters at Bhimbetka were discovered by an Indian while most of the ancient Indian structures were found by British Officers. Bhimbetka was discovered by V. S. wakankar. Then the excavations were carried out and today you have the biggest art based cave in India. Before the caves were discovered, it was said to be a Buddhist hill with many stupas. The caves also show how the human life continued here from pre historical to medieval period.
Thus, the Rock shelter of Bhimbetka with its 700 rock shelters is a place that is necessary see in tours here. The paintings here belong to the Mesolithic period and here is a lot of resemblance between the people living in the villages nearby and those shown in the paintings.
The forests surrounding the Bhimbetka caves have actually helped in preserving the paintings. The paintings show hunting, honey collection, animal faiths, dancing, masks, and disguises, beautification of bodies, horse, and elephant riding. There are rhinoceros, tiger, bison, peacocks, antelopes, and elephants shown in the paintings
The paintings have been done with soft red stone, manganese, wooden charcoal, and hematite. Leaf extracts and animal fat have also been used. The rock shelters of Bhimbetka show a lot of chronology of the manner in which prehistoric man has evolved. The ceilings of the rock shelters and the walls all have the beautiful paintings, which form the mainstay of tours here.
With many more interesting experiences here, the travels to Bhimbetka would not be short of a small historical adventure.