Bhimbetka - The Unusual Rock Shelters


Madhya Pradesh has a rich history which dates back to the pre-historic era. In the lap of lush green forest covers, at the southern edge of the Vindhya Hills, there lies a shelter of close to 500 pre-historic rock caves called the Bhimbetka Rock Shelter. Discovered in 1957, these paintings were mainly created by ancient man, as a means to communicate with each other and have served as a record of their lives for generations to come.

The name ‘Bhimbetka’ is derived from the historic tale of Mahabharata. Legends have it that Bhim, one of the Pandavas sat (‘baitha’ in Hindi) in this place during their exile, and thus, the place got its name ‘Bhimbetka’, the sitting place of Bhim.

An excavation by Dr. Vishnu Wakankar in 1957-58 brought him to this historic masterpiece. In an accidental trip to the sanctuary of Ratapani, he came across these caves, and hence, Bhimbetka was discovered. Dr. Wakankar compared these caves to those he saw in Spain and France.

These caves are an invaluable chronicle of history. Made in different periods of history, some paintings are around 30,000 years old. The paintings are an insight into the first traces of pre-historic mankind like lifestyle, festivals, hunting and agriculture. Out of the many, however only 12 caves are open for public viewing, and have been a topic of interest for several archaeologists since its discovery.

Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2003, it is home to more than 500 caves and rock shelters, all of them adorned with paintings.

The use of natural colors has ensured that the paintings have endured better over time. 

Once in Bhimbetka, the rich verdant and scenic beauty around the area will leave you spellbound.

Nearby places


This is a must-visit town near Bhimbetka. Major attractions in Hoshangabad include the Salkanpur temple Bijasan Mata which is at a distance of 35 km from the city. It is a sacred shrine with more than 1000 steps. Another site worth visiting is The Hoshang Shah Fort. It is an ancient fort, built by the Malwa ruler Hoshang Shah, adjacent to the river Narmada.


The temple of Bhojpur is an ancient Hindu temple in the village of Bhojpur, near Bhimbetka. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and houses a 7.5 feet high lingam in its sanctorum. It is believed that the construction of the temple started in the 11th century during the reign of King Bhoja, but the structure and its construction was forsaken for reasons still unknown.

Getting there

By Air: The nearest airport is Raja Bhoj Airport, Bhopal, which is approximately 45kms away. One can hire taxis from there to Bhimbetka.

By Rail: The nearest railhead is Bhopal Jn., at a distance of approximately 37kms from Bhimbetka.

By Road: Bhimbetka is connected to all the nearest towns and cities like Bhopal, Hoshangabad etc. by accessible roads and taxis are readily available.