Useful Information

Location: Near Bhimbetka, state of Madhya Pradesh. 45 km south of Bhopal.
Classification: ExplainPainted Cave
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1958 discovered by Dr. V S Wakankar.
1958-1974 explored and excavated by Dr. V S Wakankar.


Bhimbetka is the largest collection of prehistoric art in India. It was discovered and explored by Dr. V S Wakankar, one of India's greatest archaeologists. After unearthing rock shelters in the Chambal region he was on his way to Nagpur. From the train he noticed caves dotting the hills in the distance. He cut through the deep forests of teak and tendu and climbedup to the caves.

The name Bhimbetka is derived from the Sanskrit epic Mahabharata, Bhim-bait-ka meaning Bheem who sat upon these rocks.

The area of Bhimbetka is riddled with caves, most of them containing paintings. More than 600 small caves, most of them only rock shelters or overhanging cliffs were found in the craggy cliffs. The caves were used for many thousands of years, so paintings of all eras can be found, Paleolithic, Mesolithic, and Neolithic.

Most of the paintings were painted with red and white colours, rather seldom green and yellow was used. The drawings show hunting, dancing, horse and elephant riders, animals fighting, honey collection, decoration of bodies, disguises, masking and household scenes. The identified animals include bisons, tigers, lions, wild boar, elephants, antelopes, dogs, and lizards.

The paintings in the caves were categorized and belong to seven different periods:

  1. Upper Paleolithic: green and dark red, linear paintings of huge figures of animals such as bisons, bears, tigers, and rhinoceroses.
  2. Mesolithic: smaller, stylized figures with linear decoration on the body, hunting scenes showing weapons, dances, and musical instruments give an idea of Mesolithic life.
  3. Chaleolithic: these drawings reveal that the cave dwellers had come in contact with the agricultural communities of the Malwa plains.
  4. Early Historic: pictures of Yaksha, tree gods and magical sky chariots.
  5. Medieval: geometric, linear and more schematic but they show degeneration and crudeness in their artistic style.