Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves: A Gateway to The Ancient Orissa
The historical remains sometimes turn out to be a source that emits beauty and evokes interest of people so much so that they gain popularity and attain the status of being a tourist destination. Made partially through the natural processes and partly through human efforts, the Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves are categorized in the list of places where a large number of tourists gather and explore the mystery and appreciate the beauty of a site that is important from religious and archaeological point of view as well.
The Udayagiri and Khandagiri caves are close to Bhubaneswar, the capital city of Orissa.
This site consists of a total of 33 caves in two groups. The first group, Udayagiri, consists of 18 caves while the second group, Khandagiri, consists of 15 caves. While some of the caves are named, others are just numbered. However, this is not a factor that discriminates the caves from each other. Despite being different in size and appearance, all the caves together form a historical site that holds immense archaeological and cultural significance as well.
The most distinguished cave of this group is the Rani Gumpha, which translates to the Queen’s Cave. It is a double-storeyed cave adorned with some ancient sculptures. There are three entrance points for the lower right chamber of this cave.
The central chamber of this cave is divided into four cells, where one can see designs in different themes. Two rooms of this cave feature the design of a forest, a waterfall, trees and animals, water reservoir, etc.
There are six chambers in the upper storey of this cave. The four chambers at the rear end feature pilasters with designs of lotus flower and snake and arches.
The second famous cave of this group is the Chota Hathi Gumpha, which translates to Small Elephant Caves. The cave derives its name from the carvings of elephants in the entrance.
The Alakapuri Cave features sculptures of winged animals, with animal and human heads and also of a lion that is holding a prey.
The Jaya Vijaya Gumpha features the carving of a bodhi tree being worshiped by a couple.
Manchapuri and Swargapuri caves feature carvings of a group of worshipers standing in front of an unidentified king.
Ganesh Gumpha is named after the carving of Lord Ganesha in one of its chambers.
The Bagh Gumpha, which translates to the Tiger’s Cave, represents the shape of a tiger’s mouth at its entrance.
The named caves of this group include the first and the second cave named as Tatowa Gumpha, which translates to the Parrot Caves, a name derived from the designs of parrots found in the arches.
The third cave in this group is named as Ananta Gunpha or the Snake Cave, owing to the snake idols in the arches. Inside the cave, one can see carvings of village life, animals, flowers, etc.
The seventh cave of this group is known as the Navamuni Gumpha. Nava translates to nine while muni translates to sage. It is named after the nine figures of sages on the walls.
The last of the named cave of this group is the Barabhuji Gumpha, named after the two figures deities with twelve arms each.
Eat, Drink, Collect
Bhubaneswar is the capital city of Orissa and to cater the gastronomical requirements of the tourists, the various types of eating joints serve different cuisines and drinks to the patrons. Some famous outlets in the city are Dalma, Tangerine 9, Solariz, Golden Bird, Nakli Dhaba, Truptee, The Zaika, Khana Khazana, Deep down South, Barabati Restaurant, etc.
Visitors can purchase hand woven textiles, pipli handicrafts, wooden idols, gemstones, silver filigree items, etc., from the city of Bhubaneswar.
Best Time to Visit
Tourists can plan a visit according to their convenience, as the caves remain open from sunrise to sunset, all year long.
The entrance fee is Rs 5/- per person for Indian citizens and visitors coming from SAARC and BIMSTEC countries. Visitors from other countries are required to pay Rs 100/- per person for admission.
No entrance fee is charged for visitors up to 15 years of age.
How to Reach
The Udayagiri and Khandagiri caves are located in a hill at a distance of approximately six kilometres from the city of Bhubaneswar. The domestic airport of Bhubaneswar provides connectivity with many cities, apart from the railway station which provides connectivity with almost every state.
Tourists coming from within the state can board a state run bus, which runs frequently throughout the year.
Within the city, there is no local train service and the tourists have to rely on state run local bus service, shared autos, private autos and cabs. These transport methods are convenient and will not prove to be a burden on your pocket.