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Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves: Glorius Times

Written By: Akshatha Vinayak

It is amusing to see 'Radha loves Arjun' kind of messages written on the rocks or walls at the heritage sites! Some messages are even written on random rocks beyond the human reach (above the normal height). Has it ever made you wonder how they take so much effort and write nonsensical texts? Well, the point is we may have got this trait from our predecessors; only difference is they carved interesting details but we are destroying that now.

Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves

Rani Gumpha
Photo Courtesy: Bernard Gagnon

In the interiors of Odisha, there are two hills known for caves and precious inscriptions. It looks like the rulers of Kalinga Dynasty loved to record the details of their administration at these sites. Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves near Bhubaneshwar are a series of rock-cut structures that hold great legacies of ancient India.

Attractions of Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves

These caves once served as a residence of Jain monks; the whole construction is said to have happened during the rule of Kalinga King Karavela.

Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves

Hathi Gumpha
Photo Courtesy: Bernard Gagnon

Udayagiri has 18 caves whereas Khandagiri has 15 caves. The structures in Udayagiri are more exuberant when compared to the ones in Khandagiri. The amazing detailing in the constructions and numerous inscriptions depict their passion towards the art and architecture.

Another interesting aspect is that each of these caves have different names. For example, there is Ranigumpha (Queen Cave - bigger than all others), Hathigumpha (Elephant Cave), Ganeshagumpha (Ganesha Cave) and so on. 'Gumpha' in the local language means cave.

Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves

Cave Monastery - Khandagiri Caves
Photo Courtesy: Soumendra Barik

Each of these caves have various inscriptions either in Brahmi script or Devanagari script. Many of these inscriptions have also been deciphered and translated. The translations of these scripts have given good insights in studying these age-old architectures.

An inscription on the doorway of Sarphagumpha thus reads "' it is the gift of Kamma and Halakhina". According to the research, Kamma is said to be a minister in the administration.

Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves

Sarpa Gumpha
Photo Courtesy: Steve Browne & John Verkleir

Similarly, many inscriptions have been found in these caves. A walk around these rock-cut architectures offers a lot to understand about an ancient era.

The detailing and the variety in the creation of each site is wonderful to see. Hence, a trip to Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves near Bhubaneshwar, Odisha is a must. No doubt, these are no less than the famous Ajanta and Ellora Caves in Maharashtra. Especially, for heritage lovers this place is a heaven.

Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves

Carvings inside the Cave
Photo Courtesy: Sailesh Patnaik

Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves are surely some of the best offbeat places in Odisha. A trip to this charismatic location makes us respect our India even more.

How To Reach Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves in Bhubaneshwar

Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves are just 8km from Bhubaneshwar. You can hire private cabs or taxis to reach this place.

By Train: Bhubaneshwar Railway Station is the nearest railway station.

Stay Options in Bhubaneshwar

Swosti Grand, Mango Hotels Prangan, Hotel Grand Central, The Royale Midtown are some of the stay options in Bhubaneshwar.

Read more about: caves heritage bhubaneshwar odisha

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