Imagine if there were a time machine which could take us all into the past, how interesting and nice it would be. Well ! There indeed is one. Bhimbetka Caves. A place which would surely take one into the past and tell us of our modest but adventurous beginning.
About Bhimbetka Caves
The Bhimbetka Caves are just around 30 miles from Bhopal, the capital of Madhya Pradesh in India. In midst of dry deciduous forests, these caves are located in the Vindhyan mountains. Covering over 300 square kilometers, this place has over 700 rock shelters in all. These rock shelters have paintings in most of them carved in the rocky sandstone.
The place derives its name from the epics of Mahabharata. Supposed to be one of the places where the Pandavas rested when exiled, this place came to be known as ‘Bhimbaithka’ (which when translated from Devanagri, means ‘Where Bhim sits’).
These are a couple of reasons which makes this location special:
A throwback in time
These caves are considered one of the oldest dwellings of the humans in the whole world. The paintings are more than 10,000 years old and the stone tools dates back to the one in the Stone Age. These caves gives a deep insight about the lives of humans during that time. The things they ate, how they survived, what made them happy, and so on. These are perfect locations to understand the humble beginnings of the our species and how our future was shaped by both our curiosity and the surroundings we thrived in.
Adventure spirit in humans
Bhimbetka Caves are an ideal place to understand the adventurous nature of the human beings. The inquisitiveness of humans could be seen clearly in the 450 shelters which house interesting paintings. With very few activities to get involved in, man resorted to paintings to communicate as well to express their feelings. The artistry is done in red and white on the sandstone. They depict everything from their rituals, customs, dance forms, hunting, livestock and daily activities and are a mirror to the adventure seeking nature of the humans from that time.
Man vs Wild Relationship
These rock shelters are a glaring example of the inter dependency of the humans and the animals for survival. The paintings show that the animals like cows, buffaloes, sheep and goats were tamed and used for milk and daily diet. They were an important part of their customs as well. The horses and elephants are domesticated to be used while hunting. Apart from that, there is also an evidence about the constant threat from the tigers, lions, leopards etc. The birds like peacocks and pigeons were also a part of the people’s lives back then. Monkeys, donkeys, lizards, bisons are also drawn in these caves showing the presence of different kinds of animals nearby. The antelope hunting, elephant and horse riding, goat sacrifices can also be seen in these paintings.
No maddening crowd
Bhimbetka Caves are one place in India which is devoid of over crowding and deafening Indian crowds. These rocks are visited mostly by the enthusiasts only or someone who is really interested in visiting these pre-medieval caves. There is a clear decorum maintained and the guides are careful enough not to disturb the tranquility of the place. Strangely, there are no queues too. Clear demarcations, notices, descriptions of the paintings are put in place to give the tourists without a guide a great exposure to the history of this place.
UNESCO World Heritage Site
In the absolute heart of India, these rock shelters have been given the status of a World Heritage Site. This has been conferred due to its importance in studying the human development since pre historic times. These sites are maintained by the Archaeological Society of India in a highly professional manner. It is visited by scores of local and foreign tourists who leave the place more informed about the lives of their ancestors. These paintings are believed to have been done at various periods of time. As the world progressed, the paintings done using stones changed to those done using charcoal, plant extracts and later on animal pigments. The instruments as well as weapons used at various times are also drawn in these caves. These shelters also throw light on the worships of natural phenomenons that were prevalent. Sun, moon, rains, thunders were all worshiped as gods and treated with reverence. The cultures followed by those dwellers are still evident from the the lifestyles of the people from the nearby villages.
Bhimbetka Caves – a must go !
Overall, Bhimbetka Caves are a must go place for the inquisitive travelers. They offer a great experience for all age groups. It showcases both the humble beginnings of our ancestors and their toil to come out victorious against all odds. It describes their sacrifices, their resolve towards survival, their co-existence with the nature and their zeal to learn new ways of existence in the wild. It does make everyone appreciate the human brains which evolved to explore new innovative techniques of hunting and their resourcefulness in times of scarcity using every means available to them through the surroundings. Bhimbetka caves establishes that humans were always social animals and celebrated life in different styles always. These caves are a reminder that no matter how much we have developed, it was always the hard work of our predecessors and the will to fight that kept us alive in this world. As the saying goes, ‘every glorious future has a past’ – and Bhimbetka is no different.