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Off The Beaten Track: Bhimbetka, MP

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Off The Beaten Track: Bhimbetka, MP

Get a glimpse of prehistoric caves and the earliest paintings

If the history of human civilisation catches your fancy, you’d be very interested to visit a site that still holds the remnants of the earliest forms of art. And the best part: it’s right here in India!

To imagine that the early humans — who had no access to electricity or fancy equipment — have created art and architecture that has truly stood the test of time, is nothing short of fascinating.

Whether it’s the Pyramids of Egypt or the Stonehenge in England, all these places have left modern humans awestruck. You can witness one such prehistoric marvel in Madhya Pradesh, India.

The Bhimbetka caves, located just a few kilometers away from the capital of MP, have been declared a UNESCO world heritage site. Lying in the foothills of the Vindhyas along the Bhopal-Hoshangabad highway, they attract leisure travellers as well as history aficionados.

What’s Special about Bhimbetka?

The caves were discovered by accident in 1957, when archaeologist Dr Vishnu Wakankar of Vikram University strayed from his path and found hints of a prehistoric culture. This led to the excavations and the unearthing of the breathtaking treasure that lay buried therein.

The biggest attraction at Bhimbetka is the cave paintings that date back to 15,000 years. What’s more — there are paintings from seven different ages here, which is proof that humans resided in these caves over a long period of time.

Despite being centuries old, the paintings are vivid to date. They depict animals like the rhino, monkey, elephant, et al, as well as the everyday rituals of the caveman.

Bhimbekta also has a mythological back story, as it derives its name from Bhima, one of the Pandavas and the central character in Mahabharata. It is believed that after being banished from their kingdom, the Pandavas found abode in these caves.

How Do I Get There?

Bhimbetka is a world heritage site and is connected with rest of the country by a well-maintained road network. If you wish to visit, the best option is to get to Bhopal by train or flight, and then take a bus or a cab to reach the actual site.

It is located at a distance of only 48 kilometers from Bhopal airport. We suggest you find a good hotel or a guest house in Bhopal and take a short road trip to Bhimbetka caves — that way, you can check out the other tourist attractions too.

What Else Can I Explore?

When you visit MP, you’ll get up close and personal with its vibrant culture and activities. Be sure to try the local cuisines and explore the neighbourhood bazaars. Do not miss Bhutte ki Khees, Bhopali Gosht Korma and Palak Puri. Bhopal is also well-connected to some of the other nearby attractions.

If you are a first time traveller, take some time out and visit the Shiva Temple at Bhojpur village, approximately 70 km from Bhopal. The temple houses a huge 7.5 foot Shiva Lingam that 11th century king Bhoja supposedly built. 

Close to the temple is a museum that showcases its history, and also the literary works of the king.

The best way to end your trip would be to visit the peaceful town of Sanchi, which is at a distance of only 46 km from the capital. It houses a grand Buddhist Stupa that was commissioned by King Ashoka, a must-see.

Go on, witness the Buddhist culture, pilgrimage sites, and stone-age archaeology in the heart of the country.

Image Credit: Speakzeasy

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Namit is a journalist and adventure sports enthusiast. He divides his time in reading about interesting issues and later writing about them. In his free time, he is most expected to escape to the mountains in search of solitude.

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