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The sprawling caves of Bhimbetka (2405N and 76045E) are located about 45 km northeast of Bhopal, the state capital of Madhya Pradesh.
The ground layer consists of a rough layer of ferruginous earth mixed with rock-grit or sand, vegetable fibres, paddy husk, grass and other fibrous material of organic origin on the rough surface of walls and ceilings.
An intrepid archaeologist from Vikram University, Ujjain, Dr.
Vishnu Wakankar, strayed too far from the beaten path and found himself amidst this prehistoric treasure trove.
The most ancient scenes here believed to be commonly belonging to the Mesolithic Age.
These magnificent paintings can be seen even on the ceiling of the rock shelters located at daunting heights.
These caves are excavated in horseshoe shaped bend of rock surface nearly 76 m in height overlooking a narrow stream known as Waghora. Each cave was connected to the stream by a flight of steps, which are now almost obliterated, albeit traces of some could be noticed at some places.
The location of this valley provided a calm and serene environment for the Buddhist monks who retreated at these secluded places during the rainy seasons. In all, total 30 excavations were hewn out of rock which also include an unfinished one. 9, 10, 19, 26, and 29) are chaityagrihas and the rest are viharas.The northern fringes of the ancient Vindhyachal ranges are home to the extraordinary rock shelters and paintings, its awesome rocks fortifying the ancient treasure within.Ensconced amidst lush greenery in dense forests, and rocky terrain and craggy cliffs, with the lofty rocks guarding the ancient premises, the caves of Bhimbetka present a breathtaking view even from as far as Obaidullaganj, a small town in the vicinity of Bhimbetka.The addition of new excavations could be noticed again during the period of Vakatakas, the contemporaries of the Imperial Guptas. The earliest is noticed in the form of fragmentary specimens in cave nos. The second phase of paintings started around 5th 6th centuries A. A decline in the execution is also noticed in some paintings as indicated by some rigid, mechanical and lifeless figures of Buddha in some later period paintings.The caves were caused to be excavated by royal patronage and the feudatories under the Vakatakas as illustrated by the inscriptions found in the caves. However, Hieun Tsang, the famous Chinese traveller who visited India during the first half of 7th century A. has left a vivid and graphic description of the flourishing Buddhist establishment here even though he did not visit the caves. The main theme of the paintings is the depiction of various Jataka stories, different incidents associated with the life of Buddha, and the contemporary events and social life also.In total, 5 caves at Ajanta belong to this phase, viz., 9 & 10 which are chaityagrihas and 8, 12, 13, & 15A which are viharas.