Monday, July 22, 2024

Tourism      Monuments      Rock - cut Caves      Orissa     Bhubaneswar    

Udayagiri Khandagiri Caves

Bhubaneshwar , Orissa
They represent the most ancient rock-cut architecture in the eastern part of India
Best Season
October to March
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Located about 8 kms west of Bhubaneswar, are the twin hills of Udayagiri (Kumarigiri or Sunrise Hill') and Khandagiri (Kumaragiri or broken hills) facing each other across the road. These hills are believed to be the home of Buddhist and Jain monks way back to 2nd century. Represent the most ancient rock-cut architecture in the eastern part of India, the caves here make an interesting study of the life and times of Jain ascetics.

Partly natural and partly artificial, Udaygiri caves are approximately 135 ft high and Khandagiri caves are 118 ft high.

Built by King Kharavela, the Udaygiri having 18 caves and Khandagiri with 15 caves are reminiscent of influence of Buddhism and Jainism in Orissa that reveal the sculptural art of the 2nd century BC. The major attractions of these caves are their wonderful carvings adorned with stone sculptures and most of them are named according to the carvings on the walls. A flight of steps and an ancient ramp rising gradually from the foot of the hill paves the access towards these caves.

Udayagiri Caves - Udayagiri (also spelled as Udaygiri), consists of both natural and man made caves. These caves occupy a fairly compact area around the south of the hill.

Of the 18 caves in Udayagiri, the largest and the most beautiful is the double-storeyed Cave 1 known as Rani Gumpha or Queen's Cave which is located at the base of the hill to the right. It has eight entrance points and exquisitely sculpted pillars, which are joined with the inflated arches. The facade of the elephant Cave or the Chota Hathi Gumpha is adorned with marvelous statues of six vigorous elephants. Other interesting caves of Udayagiri are Alakapuri Gumpha, Jaya Vijaya Gumpha, Manchapuri and Swargapuri, Ganesh Gumpha, Bagh Gumpha or Tiger cave, Hathi Gumpha or Elephant Cave, Pavana Gumpha or Cave of Purification and Sarpa Gumpha or Serpent Cave. On the pillars, arches and the back wall of the upper storey, one can find the best sculpture.

Khandagiri Caves - Believed to be inhabited by Jain scholars and hermits during the ancient periods, Khandagiri Caves are exquisitely designed with beautiful paintings and motifs. Caves 1, known as the Tatowa Cave (Parrot caves) is very arresting with the carved figures of birds on doorway arches. Cave 2 has some ancient Brahmi script engraved on its walls and Cave 3 contains awesome pictures of elephants, women and a bird carrying flowers. Among the Khandagiri caves, Ganesh Cave and Barabhuji Cave with illustrations of 24-Tirthankaras along with Sasanadevis is the most interesting caves. Other interesting caves are Ajanta Gumpha, Ananta Gumpha or Snake Cave, Navamuni Gumpha, Barabhuji Gumpha etc. Most of the Khandagiri caves were used for meditative purposes. Atop Khandagiri hill, one can also find an 18th century Jain temple dedicated to Lord Mahavira.

Khandagiri caves can be reached by climbing the flight of steps leading from the road or cutting directly across from Hathi Gumpha via steps that drop down from cave 17. Every year the Kharavela Mahostava is being organised at Khandagiri in the month of December-January. This week long cultural festival showcase a wide variety of folk and classical dances from other states of the country.

The Udayagiri Caves and Khandagiri Caves are open from 8 am to 6 pm. Entry fees are Rs 5/- for Indians and Citizens of India and visitors of SAARC (Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Maldives and Afghanistan) and BIMSTEC Countries (Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Myanmar) and Rs 100/- or US $2.00 for foreigner. Children below 15 years are enter the cave without any fee.