Khandagiri and Udaygiri Caves in Orissa
Situated in the outskirts of Orissa’s capital of Bhubaneswar, the caves of Khandagiri and Udaygiri are one of the earliest Jain rock cut shelters in India. Khandagiri literally means “broken hills” and Udaygiri means “hill of sunrise”. The caves are situated on two hills Udayagiri and Khandagiri, mentioned as Kumari Parvat in Hathigumpha inscription, face each other across the road. Built during the days of King Karavela, the caves provide shelter to the Jain and Buddhist ascetics. Udaygiri caves are approximately 135 ft high and Khandagiri caves are 118 ft high. The caves are a reminder of influence of Buddhism and Jainism in Orissa.
While the cells are plain, the facades are beautifully sculptured depicting court scenes, royal processions, hunting expeditions and scenes of daily life. The main attraction of these caves consists of its stupendous carvings. Of all the caves in Udaygiri, the largest one is the Rani Gumpha or the Queen’s Cave. The cave of the queen is adorned with elaborate carvings. There is also an Elephant Cave or the Hathi Gumpha, where you can find the amazing statues of elephants installed on the gate. Dating back to the 2nd century BC, these two, Rani Gumpha and the Hathi Gumpha, are the most important caves here. In the Khandagiri city, one can find a large number of caves and most of them have been occupied for meditative purposes. The caves have chronicles of Kharavels’s reign in Pali script and one of the rarest in India. So next time you are in Bhubaneswar go spelunking.
Good To Know Info on Khandagiri and Udaygiri:
Best Season: October to February
Getting There: Bhubaneswar is very well connected to all the major cities in India. One can either reach by Flight, or by Railways. The caves are only 6 KMS from the capital city.
Other Tourist Spots:
Dhauli Stupas: Overlooking the Daya River, this is the place where Ashoka took Buddhism after Kalinga war.
Lingaraj Temple: This 6th century Shiva temple is an epitome of delicate architecture.