Situated 45 kms south east of Bhopal in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, the Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and lie within the Vindhyan Hills. These enormous rock formations are gathered around the Bhimbetka Hill and the entire area is rich with flora and fauna, recurrent supplies of water and natural shelter. It is due to the presence of all these factors that a sustainable society was able to develop and flourish here.
With some of its shelters even occupied by the Homo erectus more than 100,000 years ago, the Bhimbetka Rock Shelters are from the Paleolithic era, displaying the oldest traces of human life on the Indian Sub-Continent and marking the beginning of the South Asian Stone Age. The name Bhimbetka itself means the “resting place of Bhīma” and is believed to have come from Bhīma, from the epic Mahabharata. As per the skeletons found, the humans of that time were around 7 feet tall.
These rock shelters were first cited in the Indian archaeological records in 1888 as a Buddhist site, based on the information obtained from the local tribes. In the 1950s, Indian archaeologist V. S. Wakankar discovered these sites while on a train journey to Bhopal and found some of the rock formations to be alike those he had come across in France and Spain. Further studies by Wakankar and his team in 1957 led to a discovery of various prehistoric rock shelters.