State : Madhya Pradesh
Surrounded by the northern fringe of the Vindhya mountain range,
Bhimbetka is also known as Bhima’s Lounge (Bhima was the second
of the five Pandava princes in the Hindu epic Mahabharata). A pre-historic
site, its giant rock formation must have provided ample shelter
to the ancient tribes that dwelt here. Recently, about 760 rock
of the Neolithic age (circa 8,000 b.c.) were discovered here. These
shelters are decorated with picture writings, depicting the life
and times of pre-historic cave dwellers. Some of the drawings in
white are reminiscent of the cave paintings in Pachmarhi, making
the Bhimbetka group an archaeological treasure trove, an invaluable
chronicle in the history of man.
The Attractions of Cave Paintings
Most of the paintings here are in red and white with occasional
dashes of yellow and green, with themes culled from events in
everyday life, thousands of years ago. The scenes depicted are
mainly of dancing, playing music, hunting, horse riding, elephant
riding, decorating bodies, collecting honey. Household scenes
too constitute an occasional theme. Animals such as tigers, lions,
wild boar, bisons, elephants, dogs and crocodiles – species
that pre-historic man must have encountered – have been
The walls of these shelters are also adorned with religious symbols
that were popular with these pre-historic artists. The paintings
are often superimposed, which reveals that the surface was used
by different people at different times. Some of the work is as
old as 30,000 years, while the more recent pictures can be traced
back to the medieval period.
In fact, the drawings can be classified under seven different periods.
Period I (Upper Palaeolithic)
These are linear representations, in green and dark red, of huge
figures of animals such as bisons, tigers and rhinoceros.
Period II (Mesolithic)
Comparatively small in size, the stylized figures show linear decoration
of the body. In addition to animals, there are human figures and
hunting scenes, giving a clear picture of the weapons they used
- barbed spears, pointed sticks, bow and arrows. The depiction of
communal dances, birds, musical instruments, mother and child, pregnant
women, men carrying dead animals, drinking and burials appear in
Period III (Chaleolithic)
Similar to the paintings of Chaleolithic pottery, these drawings
reveal that during the period, the cave dwellers of this area had
come in contact with the agricultural communities of the Malwa plains
and started an exchange of their requirements with each other.
Period IV & V(Early Historic)
The geometrical patterns of the Chaleolithic age were adopted by
early historical painters as well, but they introduced new symbols
which are also found on early historic coins of India. Painted mainly
in red, white and yellow, the figures of riders, religious symbols,
tunic-like dresses and scripts of this group follow a decorative
and schematic style. Religious beliefs are represented by tree gods,
yakshas (tree spirits) and sky chariots.
Period VI & VII (Medieval)
These paintings are geometric, linear and more schematic, but show
degeneration and crudeness in their artistic style.
How to Reach
Regular flights connect Bhopal with Delhi, Gwalior,
Jabalpur, Indore and Mumbai.
Bhopal is on the Delhi-Chennai main line. Major trains
going from Mumbai to Delhi via Itarsi and Jhansi also go through
Regular bus services connect Bhopal with Indore(186
km), Mandu(285 km), Ujjain(188 km), Khajuraho(383 km), Pachmarhi(195
km), Gwalior(423 km), Sanchi(46 km), Jabalpur(295 km) and Shivpuri(311