The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Rock Shelters, the Bhimbetka, is a pleasant delight. It is absolute fun to walk the rugged path of rocks showing beautiful depictions of painting from the pre-historic times. The rocky terrain is full of sights of craggy cliffs and lofty mountains surrounding you. Besides, you learn, how early humans interacted with nature, animals, and shared their social life expression in raw fashion by using colors on rocks.
Nestled among the Vindhyachal ranges of Madhya Pradesh is Bhimbetka, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. After a drive surrounded by lush greenery of dense forests is this rocky terrain with natural cliffs and soft rocks display.
It has archaeological records dating back to the end term of the 18th century and was completely discovered in 1947. It was noted to be a Buddhist site earlier by the local adivasis. Later, historians found the rock formations in close similarity to Spain and France, thus, leading to the site excavation and discovery of the ancient hidden treasure at the site-rock shelter paintings.
A visit to the site will take to a vacant land, naturally a quiet space. The entrance to the cave narrates, in brief, the exciting historical facts of the site. Seldom, will you find so much information to read at an Indian historical site, and when you do, make sure you read a lot on it as it builds an instant instinctive rapport with the place, since you now know some bit of it. Of course, the internet is always available for help.
The appointed guide was a pleasant surprise as he was very enthusiastic and well informed about the basics of Indian history. He knew about the historical periods accurately and was confident to have conversations with the tourists to the site. His father was earlier a member of some history library; sorry don’t remember exactly what he said, and therefore, his passion for the subject.
Coming to the area description, there are over 750 shelters which have been identified in and around the site. Bhimbetka group is one of them constricting of 243 identified shelters.
These rock caves are said to have developed in a sequence of different Stone Age cultures. There are big rock shelters, which colorful painting inscribed on the stone walls, and even drawn on the floors made of natural rock. If you observe it closely, most of the paintings show their intimacy with nature or architectural draws.
Mostly drawn in the red and white colors, there are green and yellow paintings using various motifs concerning the everyday life of people. There are dancing pose, hunting action or horse and elephant riders depiction, for example. There is more in form of animal flights depictions including bison, tiger, rhinoceros, wild boar, elephants, monkeys, peacock and much more.
Some paintings show the gigantic elephants, bison, boars, horses; some are on the tall structures, and some are lavish displays of the extravagant life the era had, including all festivals and rituals, drawn in neat geometric patterns starting from early Indian stone age to the medieval period. The paintings are believed to be almost 30,000 years old and are still clearly visible, making way for a vivid display of creativity and history together.
This amazing display is not stone engraving but human expression and sentiments painted using dyes and pigment. Adding to the awesomeness is the fact that these paintings remain as fresh as they were today. No interference has been done with the paintings and even under rough weather conditions, the colors, the dyes, the pigments, remains as they were. There has been no erosion, discoloring or any signs of fatigue on the paintings, may be for the dense forests or thick vegetation protecting the exact location.
And these rocks bear witness to what is possibly the first ever form of human expression. The linear draw using green and dark red showing Bisons and boar with humans is said to belong to the Upper Palaeolithic age when humans were beginning to use stone tools. In comparison, the Mesolithic period small drawings show human hunting with spears, sticks, bows, and arrows. Along the hunting scenes, there is a depiction of communal dance, birds, pregnant women etc. Further sequence shows drawing passing through the Chalcolithic, early historic and reaching up to the medieval period.