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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka

Glorified as the world heritage site in 2003, the Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka are situated in the foothills at southern edge of the Vindhyachal hills. Dense forests shaded by huge sandstone outcrops house five clusters of natural rock shelters that showcase paintings that are as old as the Mesolithic Period. Even more amazing is the fact that the culture and traditions of the inhabitants of the twenty-one villages near this site is more or less bear many similarities with the one that are represented in the rock paintings. The large number of rock art paintings and its quality is symbolic of the long interaction between the people of the area and their landscape and provides much information about the hunting and gathering economy of the local tribals of the region.Situated in Madhya Pradesh, Bhimbetka presents the earliest known traces of human life in India and is one of the oldest sites in the world where petroglyphs that are more than 9000 years old have been found. 45 km from Bhopal, they are to the north of the Satpura hills and is covered by thick forests, vegetation, perennial water supplies and natural shelters that are much similar to the rock art site in the Kakadu National Park in Australia. The first references of Bhimbetka has been found in the Indian archeological records in 1888, where it has been recorded as a Buddhist site. It was V. S. Wakankar who discovered several prehistoric rock shelters here. In all, there are more than 700 such shelters in the region, out of which 243 are in Bhimbetka group which are also known for displaying the world's oldest stone walls and floors.

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