Bhimbetka: The mystery behind human existence and the art
Today, I want to confess one thing. I’m obsessed with an idea – the idea of going back to the 5 lakh years and see how the world was? What form of life would have existed at that time? What do you think – exciting or scary? You may think it a scary one, but, what if we had a time machine and we could go back (5 lakh years). I would have gone, would you have joined me?
Ok, let me put it in another way, how about: if, you wake up one morning and find yourself in the middle of the jungle or in the caves or on a barren land? What will happen, if you find yourself in front of a giant man, scary, half bare and hunting? I might be exaggerating, but the place is apt to exaggerate the facts. I’m talking about Bhimbetka. Bhimbetka is one such place that belongs to Paleolithic age – meaning 5 lakh years old.
Now, it seems like a fascinating thing, I guess!! Seriously, I can’t believe how sensibly this destination has taken me to way back to 500,000 years. Let’s see what Bhimbetka has for us and how it can take you back to palaeolithic age:
Bhimbetka – An accidental Archaeological site of India:
Traveling approximately 45km in the south direction of my hometown – Bhopal, there is one of the largest repositories of the oldest mankind and prehistoric art, known as Bhimbetka. In-fact, Bhimbetka is considered to be the largest rock shelter in the world that encompasses more than 700 caves. These caves are scattered in the area of 10 square km and are listed among the oldest caves in the world, i.e. these caves belong to Palaeolithic age or 500,000 years old. Bhimbetka is also surrounded by rocks and dense forest area known as Ratapani wildlife sanctuary.
History of Bhimbetka:
It was the year 1957 when Dr Vishnu Wakankar, a Paleontologist of Vikram University, came across these giant rock-shelter caves. Since he was a Paleontologist, so he strayed too far from a beaten path and found himself in the middle of palaeolithic caves or rock shelters. The first thought that came into his mind was that such caves resemble similar to the caves found in Spain and Africa. Therefore, the archaeological department and anthropologists began excavation for years. And after several years of excavation, the study was made on the fossils and evidence found there. Finally, the most unexpected thing happened; it was found that these caves belong to palaeolithic age. Some were 500,000 years old while some were 100,000 or 30,000 years old. The fossils were tested and were believed to be the fossils of homo-erectus (the earliest form of mankind).
One more thing is noticeable, all the world’s greatest inventions (tools, arts and painting) have happened in palaeolithic age only. Hence, the discovery of Bhimbetka is termed as the greatest accidental discovery of the mankind or I’ll say of the history. Since then UNESCO’s also carried out its processes for conserving world heritage sites. And later on in 2003, Bhimbetka is also included in that list of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites.
Being a world heritage site, Bhimbetka should face high footfall. However, the situation is somewhat different. Most of us didn’t know about this place and hence, it experiences lesser footfall and remain silent most of the time. This what makes me visit Bhimbetka. So, I haphazardly took my DSLR, call my brother and went straight way to Bhimbetka on the bike. If you ever get a chance to visit Bhimbetka on the bike, you should never miss it. One of the best place to experience nature and mankind.
Mythological relations of Bhimbetka:
Bhimbetka – as its name says represents to one of the great mythological character “Bhim“. Bhim is one of the most important characters of longest epic in the world “Mahabharata“. It is believed that when Pandavas were expelled from their kingdom, they reside in these caves. Bhim was the second in the Pandavas. Furthermore, in 1888, Bhimbetka is also considered to be the religious site for Buddhists. However, the presence of Buddhism is not evident but was told by the local Adivasis (tribal).
What makes Bhimbetka special:
Bhimbetka reflects perfect synergy between humans and the land or caves. Humans have been living there for more than 500,000 years. They were hunting, gathering, doing art in terms of painting, music and dance. All of the above, I understood that they were closely associated with nature. One of the evidence of this is that over 500 paintings were found to be made on rocks and walls of caves. These paintings depict motion pictures like war scenes, marching, dancing etc. However, the main attraction is the paintings of animals like elephants, rhinoceros, bull riding because these paintings were considered, to be of 200,000 years old. Other painting includes drawings of tools, arrows, hunting and gathering. Therefore, I came to know that Bhimbetka is paradise for anthropologists. Consequently, I was also going with the same feel – how any anthropologist feels. Some of the paintings are:
Coming back to the description of paintings, I think these were the means of communication. Hence, I think, Bhimbetka has a series of artefacts showing the activities of homo-erectus and how well they use nature to survive.
Note: All the drawing shown through photographs has been dated as of palaeolithic age, middle age, maleo-lithic age, stone age etc. The local guard present there has told me that the last painting was dated as of 2500BC.
There are some interesting facts which according to me are mysterious:
- The drawings were made with different colours: I don’t know how they would have differentiated colours like some are red, some are yellow while some are black and white. According to archaeologists paintings were made from 21 colours.
- Another thing was that the new born of homo-erectus had palm size larger than any adult of the present age (21st century).
- The design of caves is made in such a way that the temperature inside the caves remains a lot lesser than the temperature outside it.
- I think palaeolithic age is the age when we actually started evolving. We started making inventions and our mind started becoming sharper and different from other apes.
- Bhimbetka rock shelters are considered to be one of the UNESCO’s World Heritage site, but still, it remains a road-less travelled destination. The footfall is really less here and that’s why you’ll feel the true nature.
Don’t miss the chance to visit Buddhist paradise Sanchi Stupa
How to reach Bhimbetka:
Bhimbetka is approximately 45 km from Bhopal – the capital of Madya Pradesh, India and is on the road of Hoshangabad. Therefore, the nearest city is Bhopal from where you can easily get transport system. Hence, Bhimbetka is well connected with the rest of India. Bhimbetka itself doesn’t have railway or airway, but the nearest one is Bhopal:
- Airways: The nearest airport is Raja Bhoj Airport in Bhopal which is well connected with major cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Indore etc.
- Railways: Since there is no direct railway to Bhimbetka hence the nearest one is Bhopal Junction or Habibganj station in Bhopal.
- Roadways: Bus services and taxis are easily available on this route. You can also get some tour packages to travel Bhimbetka and its nearest destinations. I would rather prefer to have taxi service to go there.
You can visit Bhimbetka from Hosangabad (30 km from Bhimbetka) as well. Hoshangabad is also well connected with roadways and railways.
Therefore, one cannot describe this comprehensive grandeur in few mere words. Instead, I would say nature will make us feel like a poet who wants to reside the beauty of nature. But I’m not good in residing a poetry. So, now it’s up to you how to reside a nice poem on Bhimbetka. I hope enjoyed the post.
At last, I would like to say that, I hope I’m able to take you 5 lakh years back and showed you the life of our earliest form (homo-erectus). I hope enjoyed the post. If you like it post a comment below.