Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh): 'Bhimbetka', which translates to Bhim's Baithak or lounge, that bagged the UNESCO heritage site tag in 2003, houses more than 750 rock shelters and is acknowledged for earliest traces of human life from the Stone Age.
Located in Vindhya Range in Madhya Pradesh's Raisen district, the archaeological site that dates back to the Paleolithic and Mesolithic periods, was discovered by Vishnu Wakankar in 1957.
Born in May 1919 in Neemuch, Wakankar, known as "Pitamaha" of rock art school in the country, was honoured with the fourth-highest civilian award - Padma Shri in 1975.
He passed away on April 3, 1988 in Singapore. It is believed that Bhima, the second of the five Pandava brothers, during his exile, would often come to this place, sit and spend time talking to the locals.
In 1990, over 1,892 hectares of the said area was declared as protected area and given to Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) One of the largest prehistoric complexes in the world, Bhimbetka is home to prehistoric cave paintings and most interestingly, fossils from the Precambrian period.
Of more than 750 rock caves, only 12-15 of these are open to the public, and one of them is 'Auditorium cave', which has a massive structure with quartzite towers and a huge boulder at the entrance.
Reports claimed that the oldest paintings have larger figures, with just an outline of an animal or person. Some of these paintings are reported to be as old as 15,000 years. But new research hints that there are paintings are 30,000 years old.
The paintings - scattered all over the rock formations - are depictions of early human life flourishing that include game and hunting scenes, besides various other aspects of their daily lives.
Some figures show battle, soldiers, horsemen and elephant riders with their maces, axes and clubs, dancing and music, although the only clearly visible instrument is the drum. Figures of various animals like lion, tiger, leopard, elephant, horse, rhinoceros and black bucks can also be seen.
According to ASI's report, the evidence suggests that there has been a continuous human settlement here from the Stone Age through the late Acheulian to the late Mesolithic until the 2nd century BCE in these caves.