Interesting Facts of Bhimbetka Cave
The Bhimbetka Cave displays India’s oldest signs of human life and the Stone Age dating back to the Acheulian periods. The cave is 45 km away from the Raisen district in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. Being a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Bhimbetka includes seven hills and over 750 caves spread across a 10-km area. The Bhimbetka caves are famous for ancient rock paintings and Precambrian fossils. Dr. V. S. Wakankar, a well-known archaeologist, found these caves in 1958. The Bhimbetka rock shelters’ existence and importance was appropriately discovered in the 1970s and documented.
Bhimbetka Rock Painting:
The Bhimbetka rock shelters are home to the oldest rock paintings in the Indian subcontinent. Out of the 750 rock shelters, 400 include unique rock paintings depicting the scene of the Medieval Era. These paintings’ subjects and motifs, such as hunting, dance, animals, geometric forms, and so on, give insights into human cultural progress. Vegetable colours were used to make the rock paintings. The paintings exhibit extraordinary liveliness and storytelling talent of different prehistoric periods.
- The late Paleolithic Period (Old Stone Age) features enormous linear depictions of rhinoceroses and bears.
- Mesolithic (Middle Stone Age) paintings are more petite and depict human activities in addition to animals.
- Paintings from the Chalcolithic Period (early Bronze Age) depict early people’s ideas on agriculture.
- Finally, historical ornamental paintings include religious elements such as tree gods and miraculous sky chariots. Manganese, woody coal, and hematite were used in the final period, designated as early medieval.
The rock paintings are divided into two groups: one portrays hunters and food gatherers, and another depicts riding on horses and elephants with metal weapons. The first series of paintings are from prehistoric periods, while the second is from historical times.
‘Dickinsonia’ Fossils in Bhimbetka Caves:
Bhimbetka caves are also famous for ‘Dickinsonia’ fossils. Researchers discovered three fossils on the roofs of the Auditorium cave in Bhimbetka. These are the rarest fossils dating back 570 million years. It strengthens the case and supports the 550 Ma assembly of Gondwanaland. This discovery might help researchers to understand the relationship between geology and biology that led to the emergence of complex life on Earth.
The Auditorium cave is one of the most notable attractions of this site, among the several shelters. The Auditorium rock is the biggest shelter in Bhimbetka, surrounded by quartzite towers. The primary entrance faces east. There is a boulder with a near-vertical surface. This rock has been named “Chief’s Rock” or “King’s Rock” in archaeological literature. The boulder with the Auditorium cave is the primary feature of the Bhimbetka, among its 750 numbered shelters.
Today’s Bhimbetka Rock Shelters:
Bhimbetka caves are now one of India’s most significant ancient complexes and a popular tourist destination near Bhopal. In 1990, the archaeological site was proclaimed a protected monument and placed under the care of the Archaeological Survey of India, while UNESCO designated it a World Heritage Site in 2003.
Over time, the caves have changed into beautiful rock shelters ideal for local settlements. Some geologists believe the region was once underwater because of the smooth appearance of the rocks. The shapes, hues, and textures of the stones are stunning. Apart from the significance of indigenous art in human history, the caves offer essential information about the earth’s past.
Throughout history, various changes have occurred in humans’ social and cultural lives. Cultural relics such as stone tools, ceramics, graves, and, most notably, rock paintings reflect the evolution of human existence. Rock art is the most acceptable source for learning about modern civilization from the Mesolithic through the Medieval periods. Human and animal figures, composite figures such as hunting scenes, combat scenes, and cultural settings are drawn with mineral colours, mostly ochre, and white. The unspoiled natural surroundings of Bhimbetka rock shelters, water bodies, and scenery contribute to the area’s visual beauty and grandeur.