Bhimbetka Caves - situated 46 km south of Bhopal
, in Madhya Pradesh
- has one of the oldest prehistoric paintings of the world. The paintings is these rock shelters are similar to the aboriginal rock paintings in the outback of Australia, the cave paintings of the Bushmen in Kalahari Desert and the Paleolithic Lascaux cave paintings in France. These caves belong to the Neolithic Age. Hidden amid forests of teak and sal in the craggy cliffs, these 1,000 rock shelters are recognized by UNESCO as one of the World Heritage Sites. Most of the paintings here depict the life and times of the different people who lived in these caves. Because of the natural red and white pigments, which the painters used, the colors have been remarkably well preserved. Paintings depict everyday life and the animals found in the forests nearby - from wild buffalo, rhinoceros, bears and tigers to hunting scenes, childbirth, community dancing and drinking, religious rites and burials. The oldest paintings are believed to be 12,000 years old whereas some of the geometric figures date as recently as the medieval period. Bhimbetka is easily accessible from Bhopal.