Thursday, 22 December 2016

The Paleolithic Art Gallery Of Bhimbetka

Introduction

The Paleolithic Age (up to 10,000 BC) of human evolution is characterized by the ability to use stone tools and a primitive society centered around small groups or bands. The humans of this age were hunter-gatherers and lived in primitive accommodation such as caves and rock-shelters. In more ways than one, these ancestors of ours were directly dealing with the (perceived) whims of nature.

The paintings at Bhimbetka


The tools of this age have been found by archeologists after considerable efforts and excavations. Their life-accounts, however, have been preserved in the form of paintings and murals which have survived to this date. These paintings tell tales of warriors, of festivities, of hunters and the hunted and a lot more. A downside of all this is that it has inspired modern technology companies to document every minute thought that an engineer thinks of thinking about!

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About Bhimbetka Rock Shelters

The Bhimbetka (or Bhim-Baithika, seat of Bhim) Rock Shelters are a group of fifteen rock shelters occupied by humans in the Paleolithic age. All of these are located near the top of a rounded hill in the ageless Vindhya Range over a distance of about 800m. Some of the shelters are just that, while some others have paintings. The paintings date from Paleolithic age of hunters-gatherers to a much modern age of kings and armies.

 The formations at Bhimbetka

There is an important distinction between a rock-shelter and a cave though - these shelters are mostly open from two or more sides and have a scarp of protruding rock overhead for protection. Some of these are small enough to shelter not more than a couple, while some are large enough to shelter a band of twenty.

The Bhimbetka Rock Shelters are included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage Monuments since 2003.

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The Rock Shelter Walk-Through

Shelter #1 - Paleolithic Family and Elementary Archeology

The course of introduction to Paleolithic life begins here. This shelter has modern sculptures of a small Paleolithic family going about their daily chores. Next to it is a pit - about 3m deep - with a board indicating the different stone formations and associating them with various ages. This is more of an educational shelter.

This family (with) rocks ...

Shelter #2 - Elephants and Hunting Scene

This shelter has small paintings of elephants, their riders and what looks to be a hunting scene.

The painting up there

Shelter #3 - The Auditorium

Open on both sides, but continuous cover on top. This one has a unique imprint of a child's palm and a few cupules. It also has a natural seat-like structure which has been sat on by countless modern unconcerned visitors.

The auditorium

Shelter #4 - The Zoo Rock

One of the best shelters in terms of paintings - this one has 453 of them! There are 262 animals of 16 species, 90 humans, 1 bird, about 100 odd designs and figures and one inscription in Shankha script. There's also a royal procession shown here.

 The zoo-rock

Shelter #5 - Nothing here

There is a view point after this shelter. The views are expansive on one side, but still restricted due to the jungle on the northern side.

Shelter #8, #9, #10 - Bunched up

These three shelters open up to one another. There is a huge crawlspace here, along with multi-level shelters and galleries.

Entrance to the bunch of shelters

The upper tier of artwork

More elephants

Shelter #11 - Rooting For Life

This shelter is nondescript, except for the rots of a Papda tree that extend all the way from top to bottom of the shelter.

 The life-force is strong here

Shelter #12, #13, #14 - Unseen

These are scattered about and feature some moderate paintings. One of these also shows a brick wall of modern masonry

The brick wall of a later period

Shelter #15 - An Interesting Boar

This shelter appears from away to resemble a toad. This features a large boar being attacked by small humans (or the other way around).

Toad shaped rock

Boar-dom documented

Shelter #6, #7 - Parties and Processions

These shelters are located on the return path and feature beautiful paintings of human-animal interaction, a hunting party, people gathered together and a dancing lady.

The hunting party

The dancing party

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The Temple

Up the road from the main Bhimbetka complex is a small temple built out of a rock-shelter. The temple is frequented by locals and also has a resident sadhu.

 
The temple at Bhinbetka

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Highway Retreat

This is the resort run by MP Tourism that is located at the main highway indicating the fork to Bhimbetka. The place has a restaurant with a set menu, but excellent food quality.

Rail tracks near the resort - the main Bhopal-Itarsi Line

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Getting In

Bhopal, about 50km north, is the best point of entry for Bhimbetka. Local buses plying the route from Bhopal to Hoshangabad or Pipariya will drop off at the Highway Retreat resort. A road across the railway lines takes one to the ticket counter after 1km.

Bhimbetka on the map

The entry ticket for Bhimbetka is INR50 per head. A further uphill road of 2km separates you from Bhimbetka. A rickshaw might be awaiting at the counter if you are lucky, else a walk takes about 20mins.

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Other Places On The Bhopal Circuit

Sanchi || Bhojpur || Gyaraspur

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© One Of The Road

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