The Rock Shelters and Paintings of Bhimbetka

The rock shelters of Bhimbetka lies 9 km from Obedullaganj city in the Raisen District of Madya Pradesh and 45 km south of Bhopal at the southern edge of the Vindhya hills. The entire area is covered by thick vegetation, natural flora and fauna. It falls inside the Ratapani Wild Life Sanctuary. These rock shelters bears striking resemblance to similar rock art sites such as Kakadu National Park in Australia, the cave paintings of the Bushmen in Kalahari Desert and the Lascaux cave paintings in France.

These rock shelters exhibits the traces of human life on the Indian subcontinent in the beginning of the Stone Age. At least some of the shelters were inhabited by Homo erectus more than 100,000 years age. Some of the Stone Age rock paintings found among the Bhimbetka rock shelters are approximately 30,000 years old. The caves also deliver early evidence of dance. These shelters were declared as UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003. The name Bhimbetka is associated with Bhima, a hero of the epic Mahabharata. The word Bhimbetka is said to derive from Bhimbaithaka, meaning “Sitting Place of Bhima”.

The rock shelters and caves of Bhimbetka have a large number of paintings. The oldest painings are considered to be 30,000 years old but some of the geometric figures date to as recent as the medieval period. The colors used are vegetable colors which have endured through time because the drawings were generally made deep inside a niche or on inner walls. The drawings and paintings can be classified under seven different periods.

Period I – (Upper Paleolithic): These are linear representations, in green and dark red, of huge figures of animals such as bison, tigers and rhinoceroses.

Period II – (Mesolithic): Comparatively small in size, the stylized figures in this group saw linear decorations on the body. In addition to animals there are human figures and hunting scenes, giving a clear picture of the weapons they used, like barbed spears, pointed sticks, bows and arrows. The depiction of communal dances, birds, musical instruments, mothers and children, pregnant women, men carrying dead animals, drinking and burials appear in rhythmic movement.

Period III – (Chalcolithic): Similar to the paintings of the Chalcolithic, these drawings reveal that during this period the cave dwellers of this area were in contact with the agricultural communities of the Malwa plains, exchanging goods with them.

Period IV & V – (Early historic): The figures of this group have schematic and decorative style and are painted mainly in red, white and yellow. The association is of riders, depiction of religious symbols, tunic like dresses and the existence of scripts of different periods. The religious beliefs are represented by figures of yakshas (a broad class of nature spirits), tree gods and magical sky chariots.

Period VI & VII – (Medieval): These paintings are geometric linear and more schematic, but they show degeneration and crudeness in their artistic style. The colors used by the cave dwellers were prepared by combining manganese, hematite and wooden coal.

One rock, popularly referred to as “Zoo Rock”, depicts elephants, sambar, bison and deer. Paintings on another rock show a peacock, a snake, a deer and the sun. On another rock two elephants with tusks are painted. Hunting scenes with hunters carrying bows, arrows, swords and shields also find their place in the community of these pre-historic paintings. In one of the caves, a bison is shown in pursuit of a hunter while his two companions appear to stand helplessly nearby; in another some horsemen are seen along with archers.

In one painting, a large wild boar is seen. It is not known whether such large boars existed that time or humans drew it with enlarged scale.

Bhimbetka
Bhimbetka
The rock shelters of Bhimbetka
The rock shelters of Bhimbetka
The rock shelters of Bhimbetka
The rock shelters of Bhimbetka
The rock paintings of Bhimbetka
The rock paintings of Bhimbetka
The rock shelters of Bhimbetka
The rock shelters of Bhimbetka
The rock shelters of Bhimbetka
The rock shelters of Bhimbetka
The rock shelters of Bhimbetka
The rock shelters of Bhimbetka
The rock shelters of Bhimbetka
The rock shelters of Bhimbetka
The rock shelters of Bhimbetka
The rock shelters of Bhimbetka
The rock shelters of Bhimbetka
The rock shelters of Bhimbetka
The rock paintings of Bhimbetka
The rock paintings of Bhimbetka
The rock shelters of Bhimbetka
The rock shelters of Bhimbetka
The rock paintings of Bhimbetka
The rock paintings of Bhimbetka
The rock paintings of Bhimbetka
The rock paintings of Bhimbetka
The rock paintings of Bhimbetka
The rock paintings of Bhimbetka
The rock paintings of Bhimbetka
The rock paintings of Bhimbetka
The rock paintings of Bhimbetka
The rock paintings of Bhimbetka
The rock paintings of Bhimbetka
The rock paintings of Bhimbetka
The rock paintings of Bhimbetka
The rock paintings of Bhimbetka
The rock paintings of Bhimbetka
The rock paintings of Bhimbetka
The rock paintings of Bhimbetka
The rock paintings of Bhimbetka
The rock paintings of Bhimbetka
The rock paintings of Bhimbetka
The rock shelters of Bhimbetka
The rock shelters of Bhimbetka
The rock shelters of Bhimbetka
The rock shelters of Bhimbetka
The rock paintings of Bhimbetka
The rock paintings of Bhimbetka
The rock shelters of Bhimbetka
The rock shelters of Bhimbetka
The rock shelters of Bhimbetka
The rock shelters of Bhimbetka
The rock paintings of Bhimbetka
The rock paintings of Bhimbetka
The rock shelters of Bhimbetka
The rock shelters of Bhimbetka
The rock paintings of Bhimbetka
The rock paintings of Bhimbetka
The rock paintings of Bhimbetka
The rock paintings of Bhimbetka
The rock paintings of Bhimbetka
The rock paintings of Bhimbetka
The rock paintings of Bhimbetka
The rock paintings of Bhimbetka
The rock paintings of Bhimbetka
The rock paintings of Bhimbetka
The rock paintings of Bhimbetka
The rock paintings of Bhimbetka
The rock shelters of Bhimbetka
The rock shelters of Bhimbetka
The rock shelters of Bhimbetka
The rock shelters of Bhimbetka
The rock shelters of Bhimbetka
The rock shelters of Bhimbetka
The rock paintings of Bhimbetka
The rock paintings of Bhimbetka
The rock paintings of Bhimbetka
The rock paintings of Bhimbetka
The rock paintings of Bhimbetka
The rock paintings of Bhimbetka
The rock shelters of Bhimbetka
The rock shelters of Bhimbetka
The rock paintings of Bhimbetka
The rock paintings of Bhimbetka
The rock paintings of Bhimbetka
The rock paintings of Bhimbetka
The rock shelters of Bhimbetka
The rock shelters of Bhimbetka
The rock paintings of Bhimbetka
The rock paintings of Bhimbetka
The rock paintings of Bhimbetka
The rock paintings of Bhimbetka
The rock paintings of Bhimbetka
The rock paintings of Bhimbetka
The rock shelters of Bhimbetka
The rock shelters of Bhimbetka
The rock shelters of Bhimbetka
The rock shelters of Bhimbetka
The rock shelters of Bhimbetka
The rock shelters of Bhimbetka
The rock shelters of Bhimbetka
The rock shelters of Bhimbetka
The rock shelters of Bhimbetka
The rock shelters of Bhimbetka

Burhanpur – The Erstwhile Capital of the Faruqi Dynasty

Burhanpur is situated on the northern bank of Tapti River in Madhya Pradesh. It is located 340 kms southwest of Bhopal and 540 km northeast of Mumbai.

It was an important city under the Rashtrakuta Dynasty during 753-982AD. In 1388AD, Malik Nasir Khan, the Faruqi Sultan of Khandesh discovered Burhanpur at the behest of Shaikh Zainuddin and renamed it after a well-known medieval Sufi saint, Burhan-ud-Din which later became the capital of Khandesh Sultanate. In 1601AD Akbar annexed the Khandesh Sultanate and Burhanpur became the capital of Khandesh Subah of the Mughal Empire.

It is a beautiful city with a lot of historical monuments existing in its expanse, primarily from the times of Sha Jahan the great Mughal emperor. Shah Jahan spent a considerable time in this city and helped to add to the Shahi Qila, the majestic palace situated on the banks of Tapti River. The main attraction of the palace is the royal bath which was made specifically for the use of Begum Mumtaz Mahal. Also it is said that Sha Jahan was originally planned to build the Taj Mahal here as it was the home town of Mumtaz Mahal who lived and died in Burhanpur.

Burhanpur was taken by the Peshwas and in 1761AD the Maratha army marched for the Third Battle of Pnipat from this city. After the fall of the Marathas the city came under the British control.

One of the remaining gates of the old city
One of the remaining gates of the old city
Shahi Qila on the banks of River Tapti
Shahi Qila on the banks of River Tapti
Shahi Qila
Shahi Qila
River Side Structures
River Side Structures
River side structures
River side structures
View of Tapti River from top of the Shahi Qila
View of Tapti River and the ghats from top of the Shahi Qila
Another structure on the river side
Another structure on the river side
The garden and the ruins of the palace
The garden and the ruins of the palace
The remaining arches of the old palace
The remaining arches of the old palace
More ruins around the palace
More ruins around the palace

The Garden around the palace
The Garden around the palace
The Royal Bath or Hamam
The Royal Bath

The detailed work inside the Royal Bath
The detailed work inside the Royal Bath
The detailed work inside the Royal Bath
The detailed work inside the Royal Bath
Inside the Royal Bath
Inside the Royal Bath
The Royal Bath
The Royal Bath

The Jama Masjid is one of the most important tourist attraction of Burhanpur. The construction of the Masjid was started by Farooqui rulers and was completed during the time of Akbar.

Jama Masjid
Jama Masjid
Jama Masjid Interior
Jama Masjid Interior
Jama Masjid Interior
Jama Masjid Interior
Jama Masjid Interior
Jama Masjid Interior
Jama Masjid
Jama Masjid
Inscriptions Inside the Jama Masjid in Sanscrit and Arabic
Inscriptions Inside the Jama Masjid in Sanscrit and Arabic
Jama Masjid the detailed stone work
Jama Masjid the detailed stone work
Jama Masjid the details on the Minar
Jama Masjid the details on the Minar
One of the minars of the Masjid
One of the minars of the Masjid

Another attraction is Ahu Khana or the Deer House an enclosed garden with tanks and pleasure houses constructed during the reign of Shah Jahan. The buildings include a fine Baradari, now roofless where Mumtaz Begum has been buried.

Ahu Khana or Deer House
Ahu Khana or Deer House
Ahu Khana
Ahu Khana
Ahu Khana
Ahu Khana
Ahu Khana, the details
Ahu Khana, the details
Ahu Khana, another view
Ahu Khana, another view
Ahu Khan
Ahu Khan
Ahu Khana
Ahu Khana
The Ruins inside the Ahu Khana Complex
The Ruins inside the Ahu Khana Complex
More Ruins inside the Ahu Khana Complex
More Ruins inside the Ahu Khana Complex

Another tourist attraction is Dargah-e-Hakimi the tomb complex includes mosques gardens etc. The Dawoodi Bhora saint Saiyed Abdul Qadir Hakimuddin is buried here. This is a major pilgrimage center for the Dawoodi Bhora community all over the world.

Dargah E Hakimi
Dargah E Hakimi

The Pleasure Palace at Mahal Gulara is another tourist attraction which is few kilometers away from the city. Probably built by Prince Khurram, later on Sha Jahan for a lady named Gulara.

Mahal Gulara
Mahal Gulara

Another attraction is Raja Jai Singh’s Chhatri built at the confluence of Mohana and Tapti Rivers. Popularly called as Raja Ki Chhatri, this 32 pillar structure is an example of Rajastani and Mughal architecture.

Raja Ki Chhatri
Raja Ki Chhatri
Raja Ki Chhatri
Raja Ki Chhatri
Raja Ki Chhatri
Raja Ki Chhatri
A village scene on the banks of Tapti River
A village scene on the banks of Tapti River
Tapti River as seen near the Raja Ki Chhatri
Tapti River as seen near the Raja Ki Chhatri

The tomb of Begum Shah Shuja, Bilqis Begum is a must visit in Burhanpur. Bilqis Begum was the wife of Shah Shuja the second son of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal. Of all the Mughal monuments built in Burhanpur this tomb is unique in terms of its construction style. It stands on a raised fluted circular plinth. The Maqbara is built to resemble a melon with intricate carvings.

Tomb of Begum Shah Shuja
Tomb of Begum Shah Shuja
Interior of the tomb of Begum Shah Shuja
Interior of the tomb of Begum Shah Shuja

Not far from the city is the Tomb of Shah Nawaz Khan often called as Black Taj by the locals.

Tomb of Shah Nawaz Khan
Tomb of Shah Nawaz Khan

Not far from the city are the tombs of the royal family and their relatives. A well preserved complex with compound walls.

One of the tombs in the complex which is in ruins
One of the tombs in the complex which is in ruins
More Tombs inside the complex
More Tombs inside the complex
Interior view of one of the tombs
Interior view of one of the tombs
More tombs inside the complex
More tombs inside the complex
More tombs inside the complex
More tombs inside the complex
More tombs inside the complex
More tombs inside the complex
More tombs inside the complex
More tombs inside the complex
More ruins
More ruins

More tombs inside the complex
More tombs inside the complex
More tombs inside the complex
More tombs inside the complex

Stay & Sightseeing
There are plenty of accommodation options available in Burhanpur. However Hotel Ambar near bus stand managed by a Parsi couple is a good option. They have a restaurant which serves, very nice food.

You can hire an auto rikshaw to go around different monuments. There are guides available to show you around the monuments. I highly recommend Mr. Yaqub Boringwala (mobile no. 09826453574) who is very co-operative and have very good knowledge of the area.

Gallery – Asirgarh Fort

Asirgarh Fort is situated in the Satpura Range at a distance of 20 kms north of the city of Burhanpur in Madhya Pradesh. The fort was built by Asa Ahir of the Ahir Dynasty. Mughal emperor Akbar conquered this for in 1601AD. Later it came under the control of the British.

The architecture of the fort was influenced by the Mughals – an amalgamation of Islamic, Persian, Turkish and Indian styles. There are three man made ponds inside the fort to provide water supply. There is a temple known as Gupteshwar Mahadev Mandir didicated to Lord Shiva. The local legend is that Ashwatthama of Epic Mahabharata used to come to this temple to worship and offer flowers to Lord Shiva. There is a ruined mosque with minarets inside the fort known as Asir Masjid. There are some British graves also in the fort. The fort has been deserted following the departure of the British.