Humiliated and banished from their own kingdom for 12 years, the Pandavas of the Hindu epic Mahabharata—Yudhisthira, Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula, and Sahadeva–spent these years living in forests. Legend has it that one of their resting places was Bhimbetka (the place where Bhima sat).
About 50 km from Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh lies the legendary rock shelters named after Bhima. With waterfalls, hills, and valleys around, nestled in lush green forests, Bhimbetka was unwittingly discovered by Indian archaeologist V S Wakankar in 1958.
In 2003, the caves were declared a world heritage site by UNESCO.
Home to the prehistoric man and the ground of the earliest stone age paintings, Bhimbetka caves brim with historical richness. The rock paintings of animals and man–hunting and gathering–date back to almost 30,000 years. From the upper paleolithic, mesolithic, chalcolithic and early historic all the way to the medieval period, art created across seven periods has been identified in the caves. Superimposed paintings show that the same canvas was used by people from different periods. Add to it the excavated stone tools, and Bhimbetka becomes an archaeological treasure trove for the modern man.