Bhimbetka Rock Shelter, Madhya Pradesh
Location: National heritage Bhimbetka Rock Shelter is manifesting as one gem out of many located in the Raisen District of Madhya Pradesh which is at the south edge of Vindhyachal hills. It is at the distance of 45 km south from the territory of Bhopal. The famous Satpura hills ranges are also sheltering its southern portion.
Picturesque flora and fauna: The entire region is lavished with the richness of natural flora and fauna where thick layer of lush green grass is lying like a green sheet covering a bed and the supply of water to keep this greenery flourishing is bestowed by the perennial rivers. Kakadu National Park of Australia has the resemblance as of rock sight ‘Bhimbetka Rock Shelter’. The cave painting of the Bushmen found in Kalahari Desert and the Upper Paleolithic Lascaux cave paintings of France appear synonymous rocky structures as of the foretold rock shelter Bhimbetka.
Ancient remnants and relics: The rocky shelter of Bhimbetka is associated with the Paleolithic age that makes it an archaeological site which has traces of human origin in Indian subcontinent. The remnants and relics state that Homo erectus used to live here some 10,000 years ago. The rock paintings belonging to the Stone Age are estimated to be 30,000 years old. The thorough observation of the painting proves that dance-form used to have its existence in that era.
Mahabharata Connection: The name of this heritage has been derived from the name of one out of five Pandavas namely Bhima. The literal meaning of ‘Bhimbetka’ stands for ‘sitting place of Bhima’.
Discovery: ‘Bhimbetka Rocky Shelter’ was included in the list of ‘world heritage’ in 2003. The site was first one credited with its classification under ‘Indian Archaeological records’ in 1888 as Buddhist site. The declaration came only after considering the facts delivered by ‘Local tribal people’ or adivasis.
In 1957, V.S. Wakankar noticed the rocky structure while being boarded in a train. He found similarity in rocky shelters between Bhimbetka, Spain and France. Hence, he visited the place with a crew of archaeologists that found it worthy of getting included as ‘prehistoric rock shelter’. The team identified over 750 shelters from across the world out of them 243 is in Bhimbetka and 178 are found in the Lanka ‘Juar’ group.
Rock art and painting:
- Period: Medieval period (about 30,000-year-old)
- Colours of walls and niche: The hues or colours used in the paintings there are drawn out of vegetables categorized as ‘vegetable colours’. Since the durability of vegetable colours is prolong; consequently, the geometrical patterns drawn on the rocky surfaces have been lasting deep inside a niche or on inner walls.
- Period-wise categorization of ‘Drawings and paintings’:
- Upper Paleolithic: All linear designs in green and dark red used in figuring animals, such as bison, tigers and rhinoceros depict the traces of Upper Paleolithic age or period.
- Mesolithic: Relatively small and stylish structures showing linear decoration point to paintings of Mesolithic period. The drawn figures include animals, human figures and hunting scenes that give the apparent images of weapons used, such as barbed spears, pointed sticks, bows and arrows. Communal dances, birds, musical instruments, mother, children, pregnant women, men carrying dead animals, drinking and burials appearing in rhythmic movement declare the exquisite skill of the creatures living there.
- Chalcolithic: The images in pictorial forms evoke the scene of agricultural communities living in Malwa plains while dealing in goods with them.
- Early historic: The figures represent a schematic and decorative style mainly in red, white and yellow. The connection of them is of riders, depiction of religious symbols, tunic-like dresses and the existence of scripts of different periods. The figures of yakshas, tree gods and magical sky and chariots elaborate their religious nature.