Shelters of Bhimbetka (2003), Madhya Pradesh
The Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka are located about 45 km south east
of Bhopal on the road to Hoshangabad. The site spread over 10 km in
length and about 3 km in width has more than 700 rock shelters, of
which over 400 have paintings. The earliest human activities are known
from the numerous stone tools including handaxes, cleavers and also
the pebble tools.
The latter pertinently was found in primary contexts. The
continuity of human evolution from the Lower Palaeolithic Period is
noticed by the smaller size of stone tools in the following Middle
Palaeolithic Period besides new tools like scrapers. During the Upper
Palaeolithic Period newer tool types like: blades, borers and burins
had also emerged. However, it is in the Mesolithiic Period that there
is a clear change in the materials and tool typology. Earlier, the
tools were largely made of quartzite and sandstone, whereas the tools
being made in the Mesolithic Period were most often of chalcedony. The
stone tools of this period include blades, triangles, trapezes,
crescents besides quern and muller.
The Mesolithic culture at Bhimbetka continued much longer as
understood by the presence of Chalcolithic potteries in otherwise
Mesolithic contexts. By the Early Historic times it appears that
interaction with the surrounding cultures became more pronounced. This
is evidenced by the presence of rock-cut beds in a rock shelter on the
top portion of an inselberg like outcrop not far from the later built
temple at this site. In all respect it resembles the Sallekhana spots
observed in South India.
The cave also has a small inscription of the Maurya/Sunga period.
Within the general area of Bhimbetka Group of rock shelters small
stupas have been found at Bhimbetka, near Bhoranwali, at Bineka, at
Lakhajuar and midway between Lakhajuar and Bhimbetka. At Bineka
besides the stupa enclosure wall and other structures were found.
There are a large number of Shanka Lipi inscriptions in the Bhimbetka
cluster of rock shelters.
However it is the rock paintings of Bhimbetka that steals the
limelight. Of particular interest to the tourist are the Auditorium
Rock Shelter, Zoo Rock and Boar Rock in Bhimbetka Cluster. The
earliest endeavour here other than for mere run of the mill activities
for survival is the engravings of small cup like depressions at the
end of the Auditorium Rock Shelter, which is dated to nearly 100000
years. Near the end of this tunnel there is a cluster of painting
depicting a hunter, deer, tiger cattle and stylised peacock. Further
ahead on the same path one comes across the Zoo Rock Shelter, which
qualifies as the most densely painted rock shelter, paintings spanning
from the Mesolithic to the Mediaeval. The paintings here include those
of A Mesolithic boar painted in dark red, animals like: elephant,
rhinoceros, boar, barasingha, spotted deer and cattle and snake, etc.
Later paintings include battle scenes painted in red and an elephant
painted in white. The Boar Rock, which is the last among the rock
shelters accessible for tourist has a depiction of a mythical boar
with horns that is many more times larger than the human being chased
Open from sunrise to sunset