Bhimbetka

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.

Bhimbetka
The main giant cave as you enter the protected heritage
Bhimbetka
Models of Homo-erectus

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).

Rock shelter 1
Bhimbetka
It shows the palm of homo erectus’s child – larger than today’s adult
Bhimbetka
Portraying my brother and the path-way inside the giant caves

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.

Bhimbetka
Beautiful caves as you go into deeper and deeper of this heritage

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.

Bhimbetka
Bike ride to Bhimbetka on a cloudy day

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:

Bhimbetka
Painting of animals walking in group.
this painting belongs to 500,000 years age
Bhimbetka
war painting showing horseman going for hunting
Bhimbetka
Painting showing dance and gathering. It belongs to 30,000 year of age

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.

Bhimbetka
Palaeolithic aged (5 lakh year old) Bull painting
Bhimbetka
One of the oldest dated painting of elephants, elephant ride.
Bhimbetka
One of the oldest painting or bull and rhinoceros

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.

Bhimbetka
Caves are been protected so that no one can touch those paintings

Interesting facts:

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.
Bhimbetka
Look at me and the caves – huge difference
Bhimbetka
Earliest activities of mankind – pottery making

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.

Bhimbetka
Perfect location to snap pics of my bike

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.

Till then follow me on Instagram and Facebook. Tweet me on Twitter and follow me on Pinterest.

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66 comments

  1. Anastasia

    Thank you for the guy to. It is just so difficult to imagine that somebody was leaving there so long ago. How is there everyday life? How was the baby palm was so big? These questions may never get answers, but thanks to you we get a glimpse.

    Reply

    1. prateekgoel

      Haa you can say that! The results are based on the studies made by archaeological department and anthropologists. These studies were done for many years.
      By the way thanks for your comment Anastasia.

      Reply

  2. Margarette Puno

    Wow this place looks fantastic! I hope i can visit here someday. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply

    1. prateekgoel

      Thanks, Margarette! Thanks for liking it.

      Reply

  3. Ali Rost

    Pretty stunning evidence of early life. Those animal scenes on the cave walls are amazing!

    So, my haiku for your adventure:

    The past is not gone,
    just hidden from most viewers.
    Seek and find wonders.

    Reply

    1. prateekgoel

      Oh ho, great lines! Thanks for sharing it! Wonderful “the past is not gone, just hidden from most viewers. Seel and find wonders”. I am actually on the way of exploring these wonders.

      Reply

  4. ludbritt1591

    I love these pictures. I find the cave drawings to be very fascinating. I’ve never seen things like this outside of books and on TV. So seeing actually pictures, just wow. I can’t imagine going back in time to see this take action. I wonder how those people would react to us.

    Reply

    1. prateekgoel

      Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with me, Ludbritt!

      Reply

  5. Via Bella

    Omg that is AMAZING! I didn’t know that this place had 500 caves?! WOW. I want to go visit now.

    Reply

    1. prateekgoel

      Haha! Yes, it has, Via Bella! Thanks for such a nice comment.

      Reply

  6. Jennifer L

    Wow id never heard of Bhimbetka but looks incredible. It’s amazing the size of a homo erectus child’s hand being larger than today’s adult.

    Reply

    1. prateekgoel

      Yes, even we can test our hand size with that child. the exact size of the child’s hand is been marked there.

      Reply

  7. Melanie May

    Wonderful post. Very detailed and love the tips. I have never been to these caves but I have read about them before and I would love to see them and the prehistoric art.

    Reply

    1. prateekgoel

      I’m glad you know about this place. Thanks Melanie.

      Reply

  8. Violinkit

    This is a very interesting post and though I haven’t really ever given the prehistoric era much thought its a fascinating subject. I don’t think I would like to wake up though and find myself in a Jurassic Park kinda of situation Ha Ha!

    Reply

    1. prateekgoel

      Haha! Surely, nobody will ever think like that, I suppose. But, sometimes I think that the cinemas or Malls with 7D theatres should have short films based on that life. One more thing, when I was a kid and watched that Jurassic Park movie, I had dreams of getting stuck in those parks. Haha.

      Reply

  9. Louise x (@withlovefromlou)

    I’ve always wanted to visit India, and now you’ve got me wanting to go even more! I loved reading this post, and your photography is just beautiful 🙂

    Louise x

    Reply

    1. prateekgoel

      Thank you so much, Louise for liking my photography.

      Reply

  10. muideen samuel

    interesting thanks fr taking us back to the early stage of men, History is made

    Reply

  11. mirchance

    My favorite is the pictures they drew so, so, long ago. I doubt I will ever get the opportunity to visit in person, thank you so much for the amazing pictures!

    Reply

    1. prateekgoel

      Haha! These paintings had actually made this Bhimbetka more special destination. You will definitely oneday.

      Reply

  12. yaswtanu

    Absolutely brilliant !! Very detailed and informative.. Keep up the good work ! ☺

    Reply

  13. Lyka

    The paintings are amazeballs! They remind me of a scene in Game of Thrones. This world really is interesting especially the long history it holds.

    Reply

    1. prateekgoel

      Haha..so nice of you Lyka! I never thought in this way. wow.

      Reply

  14. Pets Naturally (@dogtrainer4ever)

    200,000 that’s incredible! That would be quite a place to adventure. Thank you for sharing. I love that sculpture.

    Reply

  15. Sean M.

    Although I’m not too big of a history buff, I am enthralled by the beauty of the photography and the landscape that you captured. It’s really cool to think that places like this still exist in our society! Thank you for such an educational piece.

    Reply

    1. prateekgoel

      Thanks you so much Sean! Your comment had made my day. Thanks for liking my photography.

      Reply

  16. maryosadolor

    This post is really interesting and you took us straight into history and gave us a very good insight into this. Thanks.

    Reply

    1. prateekgoel

      Thanks for commenting Mary!

      Reply

  17. Laura Dove

    Wow this was fascinating!! I can’t believe that those paintings have been there for over 200,000 years, that’s mind blowing isn’t it? I would love to go here!

    Reply

    1. prateekgoel

      Yes, off-course, these paintings have been dated to be of 200,000 lakhs years old. I was also amazed by this thing.

      Reply

  18. Star harford

    This looks like an amazing place to visit! You can almost feel the history in your pictures. Imagine seeing old paintings like this. Id love to go here , it really takes you back in time!

    Reply

    1. prateekgoel

      Thanks a lot, Star Harford for your valuable comment.

      Reply

  19. Shree

    Great post. You written this perfectly.

    Reply

  20. matthew

    wow great art…thanks for sharing this on here

    Reply

    1. prateekgoel

      Thanks to you too Matthew for commenting and liking my post.

      Reply

  21. nitin Goswami

    could not believe the art preserve for such a long time

    Reply

    1. prateekgoel

      Yes even I had the same thought! But it is true.

      Reply

  22. Utminh

    The article is very interesting. Your blog has a lot of useful information. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply

    1. prateekgoel

      Thanks a lot for sharing your views Utminh.

      Reply

  23. Najeem Mujeeb

    I found the post very useful. Keep the good job up

    Reply

  24. Tania Potter - Soul Sense Coaching

    This is so interesting to read about. Having seen some of the ancient sites in South Africa, it is wonderful to see the similarities of the finds at Bhimbetka.

    Reply

    1. prateekgoel

      Thanks Tania for sharing your views. Good to know that Bhimbetka caves resemble similar to the site in South Africa.

      Reply

  25. Whitney Abigail

    I always imagine going to prehistoric times – the architecture and environment would be very impressive!

    Reply

  26. Prachi Sïñgh

    interesting and historic article

    Reply

  27. Radif Rahman

    I always love to read your posts, as I am an archaeology student. Bhimbetka is an important prehistoric site. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply

    1. prateekgoel

      Ohh, good to know about that you are an archaeology student. Now I got it: why I love to read your posts as well. Great one. Thanks, Radif.

      Reply

  28. Shina

    Great job lovely post

    Reply

  29. Ghyoneka

    This is absolutely amazing

    Reply

  30. WorldTopUpdates

    Absolutely great post. Good to know the historical foot prints.
    Thanka for sharing.

    Reply

    1. prateekgoel

      Thanks to you too for commenting your views!

      Reply

  31. Neha Agarwal

    Very Nice Place. I wish to visit here when my mood off..

    Reply

    1. prateekgoel

      Thanks a lot Neha for your comment. Definitely, it is a mood refreshing trip.

      Reply

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