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Author:Laxman Burdak, IFS (Retd.), Jaipur
Location of Nimach, Mandsaur & Chittorgarh
Location of Bhanpura in Mandsaur district
Statue of Nandi at Bhanpura museum
Rock painting Bhanpura

Bhanpura (भानपुरा) is a town in Mandsaur district in Madhya Pradesh. It has a museum depicting the popular arts of Mandsaur. Illustrated oil paintings are also found around Bhanpura. At the museum, art from the Gupta era (4th-5th century) to the time of Pratiharas and Parmaras is depicted, and well-sculpted portraits of Uma-Maheshwar, Kartikeya, Vishnu, Gavoi and Nandi are displayed.[1]


It is 127 km from Mandsaur in north-east direction. The Bhanpura town is south of other historically important places Hinglajgarh and Navali in Mandsaur district.

Villages in Bhanpura tahsil

Amjhari, Anki, Antraliya, Aranya Charan, Aranyabhau, Babulda, Badodiya, Badodiya, Bambhori Khurd, Barkhedi, Beedgaon, Bhanpura, Bhanpura (NP), Bhartyakhedi, Bhawanipura, Bhensoda, Borda, Budhanpur, Chaouki, Chenpuriya, Dantla, Dhaba, Dhabla Madhosingh, Dhabla Manoharsingh, Dhamaniya, Dhawad Buzurg, Dhuwadkhedi, Dudhakhedi, Dudhli, Gandhi Sagar, Gordhanpura, Govindkheda, Hamirgarh, Harigarh, Harnawada, Hinglajgarh, Kailashpur (Boozar), Kalakot, Kangla Khedi, Kanwali, Katna, Kesoda, Kethuli, Khajurna, Kherkheda Bhat, Kherkhedi, Kohla, Kothadi Tank, Kukdeshwara, Kuntalkhedi, Ledi Kalan, Ledi Khurd, Lotkhedi, Mahudiya, Manpuriya Khurd, Manpuriya Khurd, Mitthankhedi, Modi, Mokhampura, Navali, Neemthur, Osara, Osarna, Panga, Paronya, Pipalda, Prempuriya, Raipuriya, Ralayata, Rataguradiya, Ratanpura, Rehtadi, Sameli, Sammatkhedi, Sanada, Sandalpur, Sandhara, Satalkhedi, Sawant Kothadi, Sujanpura, Sunari, Surjana, Thagi, Toongni, Toranya, Vitthalpura,


Bhanpura (भानपुरा) gets its name from king named Bhaman (भामन). [2] Usha Agarwal writes that this place has been recorded as Bhamanpur (भामनपुर) in one of inscriptions. Bhamanpur later changed to Bhanpura.[3]Bhaman (भामन) is gotra of Jats found in Punjab.[4]


Bhanpura is located at 24°31′N 75°44′E / 24.52°N 75.73°E / 24.52; 75.73. It has an average elevation of 384 metres (1259 feet). As of 2001 India census, Bhanpura had a population of 16,493. Males constitute 51% of the population and females 49%. Bhanpura has an average literacy rate of 70%, higher than the national average of 59.5%; with male literacy of 80% and female literacy of 61%. 13% of the population is under 6 years of age.[5]


Rock painting Bhanpura

Maharaja Yashwantrao Holkar was a strong nationalist and decided to fight with the British single-handedly to drive them out of India. He decided to stay in Bhanpura, to gather a large army, and to manufacture cannons to defeat the British. He was successful to keep the British out of his state but he wanted them out of India. He knew that was impossible without sufficient cannons. He built a factory to manufacture cannons in Bhanpura. He worked day and night and manufactured 200 cannons. He gathered an army of 1 lakh soldiers to attack Culcutta. The stress of the work and the deaths of his nephew Khanderao Holkar (II) on 3rd February 1806 at Shahapura and Kashirao Holkar in 1808 at Bijagad lead to a brain stoke due to which he suddenly died at Bhanpura (Mandsaur, M.P.) on 28 October 1811 (Kartiki Ekadashi) at a young age of 35 years. [6]

A chhatri was constructed on the site of death of Maharaja Yashwantrao Holkar in Bhanpura. The work on Chatri began in 1814 and was completed in 1841. This chhatri houses a marble statue of Maharaja Yashwantrao Holkar. The traces and ruins of factory to manufacture cannons can still be seen in villages Navali and Indragarh near Bhanpura.[7]

Daraki-Chattan Cave survey Bhanpura

Archeological Survey of India took up Daraki-Chattan region as a case for the study of early petroglyphs in India. Daraki-Chattanâ “a rock shelter within the Vindhyan mountains overviewing River Rewaâ” is situated near Bhanpura in district Mandsaur, Madhya Pradesh. Daraki-Chattan reveals the hoary past of the extensive rock art in this cave beyond doubt. Excavation at Daraki-Chattan was carried out by Dr Giriraj Kumar (Dayalbagh Educational Institute, Agra) with technical support from the Archaeological Survey of India (Bhopal Circle). The excavation at Daraki-Chattan revealed immense information on the cultural occupation of the site. The collection of stone artifact assemblage from the excavation undoubtedly reveals that the shelter was occupied by the Acheulian man. Interestingly enough, Bhanpura town, close to the Daraki-Chattan site, and its adjoining area have been continuously under occupation by man of different cultural periods since the Acheulian times. Daraki-Chattan is a local name of a hill near village Bhanpura in the Vindhyans that has a series of rock shelters. [8]

Bhanpura Rock art

Rock painting Bhanpur

In January 2007, the Rock Arts Society of India (RASI) stated that the "longest chain of rock arts in the world" was situated at a site 35 km from Bhanpura. The earliest carvings in the chain are mostly of animals. [9]

The 12-km-long site, with most of its petroglyphs or pre-historic rock carvings intact, has been discovered in Mandsaur district of Malwa region, which is also home to Bhimbetka, the UNESCO world heritage site, 45 km south of Bhopal.

The Rock Arts Society of India (RASI), which knew about the existence of the site for sometime, has now gone official saying the site in the Vindhyan tableland, a plateau lying north of the central part of the Vindhya range, is indeed the "longest chain of rock arts in the world".

"Nowhere in the world has anybody come across such an extensive chain of rock arts with little interruption. What's exciting is most petroglyphs are intact," internationally acclaimed paleontologist and former RASI secretary G L Badam told TOI.

The site is situated inside dense forests, 35 km from Bhanpura town, about 350 km from Bhopal. Earliest carvings in the chain are mostly of animals like rhino, nilgai , bear, panther, elephant, monkey, turtle and crocodile. But there are also pictures of cow, bull, buffalo, pig and horse.

Experts have called the discovery of the Bhanpura rock arts as "an important milestone in the history of anthropology". "The presence of a variety of rituals, processions and fighting scenes goes to prove the continuity of the art and early man's culmination into community living," said Badam.

RASI officials have already pitched for National Park status to the Vindhyan rock-shelters.

Chaturbhujnath Nala Rock Art Shelters

Chaturbhujnath Nala Rock Art Shelters is the the Longest Rock Art Gallery situated in Gandhi Sagar Sanctuary near Bhanpura in mandsaur district in Madhya Pradesh. From the Forest Rest House at Gandhi Sagar Dam as we move about 15 kilometres on metalled roads and some 30 km from Bhanpura the nearest city, a faded sign tells the traveller the rock shelters are 6.5 kilometers to the left.

The Chatrubhujnath Nala forms a pool of water walled in on either side by two long lines of rock shelters. A few trees stand on the edge of the Nala. When we reach the Chatrubhujnath Nala Rock Shelters, we find that the entire Bhanpura region is rich in rock art sites, most of them rock painting sites.

The rock shelters of Chaturbhujnath Nala are quite different from the rock caves of Bhimbaithka. Here one can barely stand straight before the paintings. One has to bend low, crawl on all fours and at times even lie on one’s stomach to get a proper view of the drawings.

The surface of the paintings is uneven in colour and texture. The colour of the paintings, which is mostly red comes in varying shades: some bright, others a faded maroon. The subjects of paintings are human beings and plenty of animals. One can identify the wild elephants, bisons, tigers, leopards, monkeys, snakes, different species of birds, rhinos, beer, water animals, foxes, cows, bullocks as well as the camels. The familiar sight of a camel caravan in the deserts of Rajasthan are right their on the walls of Chaturbhujnath Nala rock shelters. The people, usually men, are sometimes stick figures, at others two triangles linked by straight lines, with clothes and without. There are only outlines of human beings as well as solid figures. These paintings made thousands and thousands of years before the Christian era are speedy, tell stories and have drama in them. There are events from their daily lives together with exotic geometric patterns. Most of the paintings are in shades of red, although one does see the occasional yellow and white.

It is here in Chaturbhujnath Nala that we have clear evidence that domestication of cattle started with humpless wild cattles; archaeological evidence indicates perhaps around 6000 to 5000 BCE. One of the shelters one can find a picture of a wild horse being hunted by men, this was the first of its kind in the history of Indian rock art.

The Chaturbhujnath Nala Rock Art Gallery was discovered by Ramesh Pancholi and is maintained by the state's Forest Department. It is being looked after by the Archaeological Survey of India, Bhopal Circle.

Apart from Chaturbhujnath Nala there are also rock paintings at Sitakhedi, Bijoliya fall, Kathiria Nala, Billi Khoh, Gebsahab, Ramkund, Chiwwad Nala, Andhera Nala, etc. [10]

Chaturbhujnath temple

Chatubhujnath temple

Chaturbhujnath (चतुर्भुजनाथ) temple is about 8 km from Gandhi sagar dam site. There is a statue of Lord Vishnu in this temple. A fair is organized here on the occasion of Tejaji dashami, tenth day of the month of Bhadra hindu month to mark the birth of Tejaji. Very near to this temple is the site of Bhadkaji (भड़काजी) rock paintings of period about 1400 years old.

James Tod's visit to Bhanpura

James Tod[11] visited Bhanpura and wrote:

Bhanpoora, December 6th, 1821, eight miles. — This was a delightful march, presenting pictures at every step. Two miles, through jungle, brought us to the abrupt crest of the Pathar. For some distance the route was over a neck or chine, with deep perpendicular dells on each side, which, at its extremity, the point of descent, termed -the ghat or pass, became a valley, gradually expanding until we reached Bhanpoora. At the ghat are the remains of a very ancient fortress, named Indorgurh, which must have been one of the strong-holds of this region long anterior to the Chanderawut feudatories of Mewar. Some fragments of sculpture indicate the presence of the artist of Barolli ; but all search for inscriptions was fruitless. From hence we saw the well-defined skirts of the plateau stretching westward by Rampoora to the Lassaughat, Tarrapoor, and Jawud, the point of our ascent last year.

It was pleasing, after a week's incarceration amidst these ruins and scenes of natural grandeur, where European foot had never trod, to see verdant fields and inhabitants of the plains ; such alterations make each delightful in its turn. We had been satiated with the interminable flats and unvarying corn-fields of Harouti, and it was

[p.659]: a relief to quit that tame tranquillity for the whirlpools of tho Chumbul, the coonds of Ganga, and the snake-king in the regions of the inaccessible Doorga.

As we approached Bhanpoora, we crossed a small rivulet, called the Rewa, coming from the glen of the pass ; near which is the mausoleum of Jeswunt Rao Holcar, adjoining the scene of his greatest glory, when he drove an English army from his territory. The architecture is worthy of the barbarian Mahratta; it is a vaulted building, erected upon a terrace, all of hewn stone : its only merit is its solidity. There is a statue of this intrepid chieftain, of the natural size, in the usual ungraceful sitting posture, with his little turban ; but it gives but a mean idea of the man who made terms with Lake at the altars of Alexander. It is enclosed by a miniature and regularly-built fortress, with bastions, the interior of which are hollow and colonnaded, serving as a dhermsala, or place of halt for pilgrims or travellers ; and on the terrace are a few rekalas, or swivels. On the right of the temple destined to receive the effigy of Jeswunt, is a smaller cenotaph to the memory of his sister, who died shortly after him. The gateway leading into this castellated tomb has apartments at top, and at the entrance is a handsome piece of brass ordnance, called Kali, or 'death.' There is a temporary building on the right of the gateway, where prayers are recited all day long for the soul of Jeswunt, before an altar on which were placed twenty- four diwas, or lamps, always burning. A figure dressed in white was on the altar ; immediately behind which, painted on the wall, was Jeswunt himself, and as in the days of his glory, mounted on his favourite war-horse, Mowah. The chaour was waving over his head, and silver-mace bearers were attending, while the officiating priests, seated on carpets, pronounced their incantations.

I left the master to visit Mowah, whose stall is close to the mausoleum of Holcar, whom he bore in many a desperate strife. The noble animal seemed to possess all his master's aversion to a Frengi, and when, having requested his body clothes to be removed, I went up to examine him, he at first backed his ears and shewed fight; but at last permitted me to rub his fine forehead. Mowah is a chesnut of the famed Beemrathali breed ; like his master, a genuine native of Maharashtra, he exhibits the frame-work of a perfect horse, though under 14. 3. ; his fore-legs shew what he has gone through. His head is a model, exhibiting the highest quality of blood : ears small and pointed, eye full and protruding, and a mouth that could drink out of a tea-cup. He is in very good condition ; but I put in ray urzee that they would provide more ample and sweeter bedding, which was readily promised. The favourite elephant is a pensioner as well as Mowah. Even in these simple incidents, we see that the mind is influenced by similar associations all over tho world.

Bhanpoora is a town of five thousand houses, surrounded by a wall in good order ; the inhabitants apparently well contented with

[p.661]: strewed throughout, as yesterday, with agates. As we approached the object of our search, the caves of Dhoomnar, we crossed a rocky ridge covered with the dhak jungle, through which we travelled until we arrived at the mount. We found our camp pitched at the northern base, near a fine tank of water ; but our curiosity was too great to think of breakfast until the mental appetite was satiated.

External links


  1. Madhya Pradesh A to Z: MPTDC March, 1994, p.53
  2. Madhya Pradesh A to Z: MPTDC March, 1994, p.53
  3. Usha Agarwal:Mandsaur Zile Ke Puratatvik samarakon ki paryatan ki drishti se sansadhaniyata - Ek Adhyayan, Chirag Prakashan Udaipur, 2007, p. 33
  4. History and study of the Jats/Chapter 10:Prof. B.S. Dhillon ISBN-10: 1895603021 or ISBN-13: 978-1895603026, p.120
  5. "Census of India 2001: Data from the 2001 Census, including cities, villages and towns (Provisional)". Census Commission of India.
  7. Usha Agarwal:Mandsaur Zile Ke Puratatvik samarakon ki paryatan ki drishti se sansadhaniyata - Ek Adhyayan, Chirag Prakashan Udaipur, 2007, p. 34
  8. Daraki-Chattan Cave, Madhya Pradesh, Indragarh Hill, Tehsil Bhanpura, district Mandsaur, Madhya Pradesh
  9. T S Sreenivasa Raghavan in The Times of India, 6 January 2007
  10. Usha Agarwal:Mandsaur Zile Ke Puratatvik samarakon ki paryatan ki drishti se sansadhaniyata - Ek Adhyayan, Chirag Prakashan Udaipur, 2007, p. 45
  11. James Todd Annals/Personal Narrative,pp.658-661

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