Bhimbetka rock shelters are an archaeological site situated in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh . These are said to be one of the earliest signs of human life and man-made shelter spotting in the Indian subcontinent, with elements spanning the prehistoric Paleolithic and Mesolithic as well as the historic periods. These rock shelters exhibit evidences of Stone Age and Acheulian times!
Bhimbetka, for this reason, has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the attracts history buffs, archaeologists, and architecture enthusiasts from all around the world.
Bhimbetka’s rock shelters are some of the most ancient rock shelters where the earliest human life is said to have existed on the Indian subcontinent hundreds of centuries ago. In fact, evidences unearthed here by archaeologists suggest that this is the place where the South Asian Stone Age began.
Many of the caves in the Bhimbetka rock shelters feature prehistoric cave paintings. While most of these are believed to be around 300 centuries old, some are said to have been occupied by human inhabitants more than around 1000 centuries ago!
Bhimbetka’s Rock Shelter include seven hills and comprise over 750 rock shelters which cover an area of over 10 km (6.2 mi). But out of these, visitors are allowed to explore only a specific 12 to 15 shelters or caves.
These include an Auditorium Cave, which is the largest cave at the site, bordered by quartzite towers.
The caves where visitors are allowed also have various historic paintings of fighters, elephants with metal weapons, riders on horses, humans depicted as fighters or food gatherers, and battle scenes with people fighting with historic weapons like arrows, spears, bows and so on. It also includes a “Zoo Rock” that features paintings of various animals, such as elephants, deer, bison etc.
The earliest paintings here are said to be about 10,000 years old (c. 8,000 BCE), corresponding to the Indian Mesolithic times.
Bhimbetka Rock Shelters are situated in the Raisen district in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, and lie about 45 kilometres (28 miles) south-east of Madhya Pradesh’s capital city Bhopal .
The caves (where people are allowed) are open to visitors between 7.00 AM to 6.00 PM on all days of the week. An entry fee is applicable for every visitor, which is INR 25 for Indian citizens and INR 500 for foreign national visitors.
If travelling by personal vehicles, an additional entry fee is applicable for each for vehicle to enter, which is INR 100 for two-wheelers and INR 300 for four-wheelers.
How to reach:
Bhimbetka can be reached by air, rail or road.
Amongst many UNESCO World Heritage Sites in India, the Bhimbetka Rock Shelters are truly the essence of historic India and an embodiment of the lifestyle of primitive people. Consisting of the oldest-known rock art in India, Bhimbetka has 760 rock shelters from which 500 are decorated with paintings and the dense forest surrounding gives off total primitive vibes.