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Location: Madhya Pradesh
Area: 1,893 ha (7.31 sq mi)
Nearest Railhead: Bhopal
Nearest Airport: Raja Bhoj Airport
How to reach: 45 kilometres (28 mi) southeast of Bhopal
Famous for: Rock shelters
Months open: all year
Best time to visit: October to April
Located 45km from Bhopal the Bhimbetaka caves are one of the oldest caves to have recorded human
life within its enclosure. Finding evidence of human traces in the caves that date back to more than
100,000 years, the Bhimbetaka caves are a quiet set of earliest forms of human habitation, bearing
paintings and archeological evidences making it an exciting and unique destination to discover.
What's Here: Bhimbetka quartzite towers, Auditorium cave, Cave paintings
The caves were by chance discovered by archeologist V.S. Wakankar when he looked upon these with
interest during a train journey. He went back to the site sometime later and discovered the plethora of
prehistoric evidence in store.
The caves are found in the Raisen district of Madhya Pradesh at the south edge of the Vindhya Range.
South of these rock shelters are the Satpura Ranges. Located within the Ratapani Wildlife Sanctuary the
site consists of the hills of Bhimbetaka, Bhonrawali, Vinayaka, Jhondra, Lakha Juar and Muni Babaki
How to reach
Also known as rock shelters, the Bhimbetka caves can be reached from Bhopal via road. Bhopal is well
connected by air, rail and road to the rest of the country.
Things to do
Although there are 750 rock shelters only a few are open to the public. The Auditorium Cave is by far the
most popular amongst all the other caves. Surrounded by quartzite or huge sandstone rocks, this
massive 25m long cave is unlike anything you may have seen before.
The caves are said to be a continuously inhabited zone and find evidence of human life on Indian
subcontinent as well of the Stone Age. Bhimbetka thus has one of the world’s oldest walls and floors,
adored by paintings from men who settled here.
Paintings within the caves are a major highlight, with some paintings found on ceilings and high walls
making one think about the way the painter must have got these done. Almost all caves depict some
sort of paintings whose subject range from hunting and game scenes, dancing, musical instruments,
animals and various aspects of their daily lives.
The paintings have been carved into the rocks using sharp instruments and the usual colors include
white and red. The colors were made using natural pigments and have survived for thousands of years.
Some of the most wonderful paintings are located in the Zoo rock, where paintings are made from lime
and some others using vegetable colors and iron. The drawings here depict warriors on horses and
elephants with bow, shields and arrows. One important observation is that many paintings revolve
around animals making it clear that the animals where an important part of human life, both as hunting
means as well as co habitants. Largely the paintings can be divided into those depicting hunters and
food gathers that dates to the prehistoric times and the warriors and fighters that date to the historic
The oldest paintings can be dated back to 30,000 years and some geometric drawings can be made as
recently as in the medieval period. The drawings have been classified into periods of when they are
estimated to be made, such as, the period 1 represents the upper Paleolithic, period 2 corresponds to
the Mesolithic and so on.
The Bhimbetka caves unlike many other tourist destinations of India, is surprisingly quiet and devoid of
much crowds. The silence within the caves takes one back in time and the absence of the usual hustle
makes the caves a reclusive abode of sorts. The feeling of standing on a ground that was stood upon by
prehistoric man is something else!
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