Udaigiri Khandagiri Caves
Modelled by the great Jain king
Kharavela, who ruled from 168 to 153 B.C., these coarse grained
sandstone caves were meant as dwellings for Jain monks. Udayagiri
(Hill of the Sunrise) and Khandagiri (Broken Hill), which rise 40
meter above the lateritic and parched plain surroundings, are just
steeping compartments with low roof, ratifying the austerity and
sobriety of the monks.
Located at 6 km from Bhubaneswar, these 113 caves were built around
2nd century B.C. Archaeologically significant, because of the Pali
records engraved in the Hathi Gumpha, these caves display the 13 year
megalithic record of king Kharavela.
¤ Major Tourist Attractions
To the south of the hill, the Udayagiri caves are situated in a very
compact area and are numbered. At the base of the hill to the right,
is the double-storey "Rani ka Naur" or Queen's Palace. Both
levels have 8 entrances with beautiful carved sculptures on pillars,
arches and to the rear of the courtyard, depicting rampaging
elephants, petrified monkeys, sword fights and women. Circle round the
hill to the right to the Ganesh Gumpha -10, which is directly above
the Rani ka Naur, depicting the elephant-headed Ganesh on the rear
wall of the cell. retrace your steps to cave 14 then on to Pavana
Gumpha (Cave of Purification) and the small Sarpa Gumpha ( Serpent
Cave), the tiny door to which is surmounted by a three-headed cobra.
The exit is channeled via the Chhota Hathi gumpha -3, with carvings
of elephants coming out from behind a tree. Back at the entrance
ascend the hill to the Swargapuri -9 and Hathi Gumpha -14. The latter
holds an inscription in 117 lines, the exploits of its builder, king
Kharavela together with sculptures showing lion holding its prey,
elephants with snakes wrapped around them and pillars topped by pairs
of bizarre winged animals.
A shortcut from the Hathi Gumpha takes you to cave -17. To the right
is Ananta caves -3 with carved figures of athletes, women, elephants
and a snake carved at the top of the entrance, definitely awe
generating site. To the left are cave 1 (Parrot cave) and cave 2. As
the name suggests, the former has carvings of birds on doorway arches
and the latter has some ancient Brahmi script engraved on its walls.
The steep path continues to the hill top where there is a 18th century
Jain temple. The Khandagiri hill provides an enthralling view of
Bhubaneswar from its summit. You can see the airport, the tower of the
Lingaraj temple rising behind it and further away, the Dhauli Stupa.
¤ How to reach
The nearest airport is Biju Patnaik Airport, Bhuwaneswar, which is 6
km away. Well connected by rail to all major tour destinations of the
country. Bhubaneswar is on the National Highway linking Kolkata (480
km) to Chennai (1225 km). There are only a few buses specifically
plying to the caves but there are plenty going by the nearby road
junction. Otherwise you can also avail private cars and taxis from