Content-based Image Retrieval (CBIR) aims at searching image databases for specific images that are similar to a given query image based on matching of features derived from the image content. This paper focuses on a low-dimensional color based indexing technique for achieving efficient and effective retrieval performance. In our approach, the color features are extracted using the mean shift algorithm, a robust clustering technique. Then the cluster (region) mode is used as representative of the image in 3-D color space. The feature descriptor consists of the representative color of a region and is indexed using a spatial indexing method that uses *R -tree thus avoiding the high-dimensional indexing problems associated with the traditional color histogram. Alternatively, the images in the database are clustered based on region feature similarity using Euclidian distance. Only representative (centroids) features of these clusters are indexed using *R -tree thus improving the efficiency. For similarity retrieval, each representative color in the query image or region is used independently to find regions containing that color. The results of these methods are compared. A JAVA based query engine supporting query-by- example is built to retrieve images by color.