Hidden Heritage

An archaeological treasure, the naturally carved rocks with primitive cave paintings dating back to approximately 30,000 years make Bhimbetka an awe-inspiring history tale told entirely in picture

 

Art and life have always treaded hand in hand and Bhimbetka caves with its primitive paintings are proof enough. To witness this miracle for real, we are driving from Bhopal to Bhimbetka. It is indeed tiring, but the exhaustion turns into excitement as one gets closer to the famous caves. It is hot and sultry but even from a distance, the landscape welcomes one with rare aesthetic beauty as the naturally sculpted rock formations cast a spell from afar. Nestled in the lush, dense woods, Bhimbetka is a rare visual treat.  A UNESCO World Heritage site, these pre-historic rock shelters are sprawling in an area of 40 sqkm on the southern edge of Vindhyachal hills. Archaeologists are of the opinion that the caves might have been occupied over 10,000 years ago. One can see thousands of years of history fly by in the paintings ranging from Paleolithic (10,000 BC), Mesolithic (5,000 BC) to the Chalcolithic (2000 BC) periods. Art is an integral part of daily life and it dips into the mundane for fertile imagination is shown by the fact that there are paintings of dancing groups and hunting escapades. In fact, in the paintings dating 2000 BC, there are human figures wearing clothes and flaunting weapons. With time and practice, art improves so horses which were mere sketches earlier, became full-bodied beasts later. So, with time putting on layers of years on the cave walls, the same walls were used by different people at different points of time and one can well differentiate the layers of art.

The caves evolved over time into rock-shelters, ideal sites for aboriginal settlements and abundant natural resources like perennial water supplies, natural shelter, and rich forest. Bhimbetka cave paintings have a striking resemblance to those discovered in the Kakadu National Park in Australia, cave paintings of Bushmen in Kalahari Desert and Upper Paleolithic Lascaux cave paintings in France. 

The site has more than 700 rock shelters. Bhimbetka has 243 rock shelters and 178 are in Lakha Juar.

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