Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves
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Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves are partly natural and partly artificial caves of archaeological, historical and religious importance near the city of Bhubaneswar in Odisha, India. The caves are situated on two adjacent hills, Udayagiri and Khandagiri, mentioned as Kumari Parvat in the Hathigumpha inscription. They have a number of finely and ornately carved caves built during 2nd century BCE. It is believed that most of these caves were carved out as residential blocks for Jain monks during the reign of King Kharavela. Udayagiri means "Sunrise Hill" and has 18 caves while Khandagiri has 15 caves.
The caves of Udayagiri and Khandagiri, called lena or leṇa in the inscriptions, were dug out mostly during the reign of Kharavela for the abode of Jaina ascetics. The most important of this group is Ranigumpha in Udayagiri which is a double storeyed monastery. Other important caves include Hathi gumpha, Ananta gumpha, Ganesha gumpha, Jaya Vijaya gumpha, Mancapuri gumpha, Bagh gumpha and Sarpa gumpha.
Count of the caves
B. M. Barua, based on a reading of line 14 of the Hathigumpha inscription, declared that a total of 117 caves were excavated by Kharavela and others on the Kumari hill (Udayagiri). Marshall has counted more than 35 caves in both the hills, while M.M. Ganguli has enumerated only 27 caves.
The number of existing caves at Udayagiri is 18, while Khandagiri has 15. The local names of the existing caves are listed below, numbered according to the enumeration of the Archaeological Survey of India.
The famous caves
In Udayagiri, Hathigumpha (cave 14) and Ganeshagumpha (cave 10) are especially well known due to art treasures of their sculptures and reliefs as well as due to their historical importance. Rani ka Naur (Queen's Palace cave, cave 1) is also an extensively carved cave and elaborately embellished with sculptural friezes. Khandagiri offers a fine view back over Bhubaneswar from its summit. The Ananta cave (cave 3) depicts carved figures of women, elephants, athletes, and geese carrying flowers.
Inscriptions in Caves in Brahmi
The Hathigumpha cave ("Elephant Cave") has the Hathigumpha inscription, written by Raja Kharavela, the king of Kalinga in India, during the 2nd century BCE. The Hathigumpha inscription consists of seventeen lines incised in deep cut Brahmi letters on the overhanging brow of a natural cavern Hathigumpha in the south side of the Udayagiri hill. It faces the rock edicts of Asoka at Dhauli, situated about six miles away.
Other minor inscriptions
Besides Hathigumpha Inscription of Kharavela, there are some other minor Brahmi inscriptions in the twin hillocks of Udayagiri and Khandagiri, which were deciphered earlier by Prof RD Banergy during 1915-16 (Epigraphic Indica-XIII) and BM Baraua (Indian Historical Quarterly-XIV). Sadananda Agrawal has given further clarifications about them and are produced as under:
I- Mancapuri cave inscription (Upper storey)
This inscription is engraved on the raised space between the second and third doorways of the cave. The text in Devanagari script is as under:
L.1- अरहंत पसादाय कलिंगानं समनानं लेनं कारितं राजिनो ललाकस
L.2- हथिसिहस पपोतस धुतुना कलिंग चकवतिनो सिरिखारवेलस
L.3- अगमहिसिना कारितं
Translation - By the blessings of Arhats, the chief queen of Kharavela, the Cakravarti monarch of Kalinga, the great granddaughter of Hathisiha (Hasti Simha) and the daughter of Lalāka or Lalārka caused to be excavated the cave for the sramanas of Kalinga.
II- Mancapuri cave inscription (Upper storey)-A
This inscription is incised on a raised bend between the 3rd and 4th doorways from the left and contains single line. The text in Devanagari script is as under:
ऐरस महाराजस कलिंगाधिपतिना महामेघवाहनस कुदेपसिरिनो लेणं
III-Manchapuri cave inscription (Lower storey)-B
This inscription has been engraved on the right wall of Veranda, to the right of the entrance to the right-hand side chamber of the main wing, consisting of one line. The text in Devanagari script is as under:
कुमारो वडुखस लेणं
Translation - [This is] the cave of Prince Vaḍukha.
Note:- On palaeographic ground Prof Banergy considers this inscription to be a little earlier than the inscription of King Kudepasiri. According to Sadananda Agrawal, Prince Badukha stands an obscure figure in history, but Badukha seems to be the son or brother of Kudepasiri.
IV- Inscriptions in the Sarpagumpha (Over the door way)
This inscription consisting of one line, is incised over the doorway of the Sarpagumpha. The text in Devanagari script is as under:
चूलकमस कोठाजेया च
Translation - The chamber and veranda/or side chamber of cūlakama. Note:- However Dr. Sahu interpreted Ajeya being united by a Sandhi qualifying Koṭha there by denoting invincible. But he ignored the conjunction ca (Devanagari: च) which follows Koṭha(Devanagari:कोठा) and Jeya (Devanagari:जेया).
V- Inscription in the Sarpagumpha ( to the left of the doorway) The text in Devanagari script is as under:
L.1- कंमस हलखि
L.2- णय च पसादो
Translation :- [The pavilion is the] gift of Kamma and Halakhina.
Note:- Most probably Halakhiṇa was the wife of Kamma. Chūlakamma - found in the inscription No.IV and Kamma of this record indicate official designations rather than the proper names. Kamma may be taken as minister of works (Karma saciva) and Cūlakamma appears to be a junior cadre of minister in the Department of works.
VI- Haridas cave inscription
This inscription contains one line has been incised over one of the three entrances to the main chamber of the cave from the veranda. The text in Devanagari script is as under:
चूलकमस पसातो कोठाजेया च
Translation :- The chamber and veranda (or side chamber) are the gift of cūlakama.
VII- Vyāghragumphā inscription
The record is incised on the outer wall of the inner chamber. The text in Devanagari script is as under:
L.1- नगर अखंदस
L.2- स भूतिनो लेणं
Translation :- The cave of Bhūti, the city judge.
VIII- Jambesavara cave inscription
This inscription has been engraved over the entrances to the inner chamber of the cave. The text in Devanagari script is as under:
महादस बरयाय नकियस लेनं
Translation :- The cave of Mahamāda Nākiya and Bāriyā.
X- Tatowāgumphā inscription (Cave No -1)
The record of this inscription is incised over one of the entrances to the inner chamber. The Text reads in Sanskrit as
पादमुलिकस कुसुमस लेणं x [॥]
Translation: The cave of Kusuma, the padamulika.
Notes:- There is a syllable after the word lenam, which may be read as ni or phi,. padamulika literally means, one who serves at the feet [of king].
Note:- Sadananda Agrawal has interpreted Masikanagara as Asikanagara and identified with the city Adam (Nagpur district). In view of the evidence of a highly prosperous city unearthed at Adam, Prof AM Shastri is of the opinion that Adam itself represents the Asikanagara of Hathigumpha inscription. It is worth noting in the present context that a terracotta sealing having a legend, has been discovered from Adam, situated on the right bank of the river Wainganga, which reads Asakajanapadasa (Devanagari: असकजनपदस).
XI- Ananta Gumpha inscription (A)
Translation :- The cave of the Dohada Śramaṇas.
Caves at Udayagiri
The Udayagiri hills fall on your right side when you enter into this area from Bhubaneswar. Compared to Khandagiri, Udayagiri offers more beautiful and better maintained cave shrines. There are 18 caves in Udayagiri :
- 1. Rani Gumpha
Rani Gumpha is the largest and most popular cave among the caves of Udayagiri and Khandagiri. The word 'Rani' means Queen. Although it is not an architectural marvel, it has some ancient beautiful sculptures.
This cave is double storeyed. Each storey has three wings and the central wing is bigger among all the three wings. The lower floor has seven entrances in the middle wing whereas the upper floor has nine columns. The upper portion of the central wing has relief images depicting the victory march of a king. Many of the cells have carved dwara pala images; some of them are disfigured. The area that connects the central wing with right and left wings have some panels where the sculptures of wild animals, fruit laden trees, human figures, women playing musical instruments, monkeys and playful elephants are found. The pilasters contain the toranas (arches) decorated with sculptures of Jain religious importance and royal scenes.
- 2. Bajaghara Gumpha
Bajaghara Gumpha is very simple and small. It has stone bed and pillow and it was obviously used as the Jain monks' shelter in the ancient times. Apart from the plain rectangular shaped pillars, there is no other sculpture found in this cave.
- 3. Chota Hathi Gumpha
Chota Hathi Gumpha is small in size. It has six small elephant figures in the facade. The word 'chota hathi' means 'small elephant'.
- 4. Alkapuri Gumpha
Alkapuri Gumpha has a relief sculpture of a lion holding its prey in its mouth. The pillars with the human figures (divine beings) with wings are found in this cave. It is double storeyed.
- 5. Jaya Vijaya Gumpha
Jaya Vijaya Gumpha is double storeyed. It has a relief image of Bodhi tree with umbrella on its top and flanked by people worshipping it.
- 6. Panasa Gumpha
Panasa Gumpha is very small and simple cave without any significant features.
- 7. Thakurani Gumpha
Thakurani Gumpha is double storeyd but is very simple in style. It has few tiny relief sculptures.
- 8. Patalapuri Gumpha
Patalapuri Gumpha is slightly bigger with a pillared verandah. However, there is no notable feature in this cave.
- 9. Mancapuri and Swargapuri Gumpha
Mancapuri and Swargapuri Gumpha is double storeyed. It has a damaged Jain religious symbol which was probably used for worship.
There are three inscriptions found in this cave. One inscription talks about the chief queen of Kharavela. The other two inscriptions talk about Kudepasiri, the successor of Kharavela and Badukha, the son or brother of Kudepasiri.
- 10. Ganesha Gumpha
Ganesha Gumpha is one of the most important caves in Udayagiri. The cave got this name due to carved figure of Ganesha on the back of its right cell. Of course, it would have been carved in the later period and it cannot be the original work. The cave has two big statues of elephants carrying garlands at the entrance. Also, the carved figures of dwara palas are found at the entrances. The carvings in this cave narrate the story of the elopement of Bassavadatta, Princess of Ujjayini, with King Udayan of Kausambi in the company of Vasantaka.
- 11. Jambesvara Gumpha
Jambesvara Gumpha is a very simple and small cave with one column and two pilasters. The inscription tells that it is the cave of Nayaki, wife of Mahamade.
- 12. Vyaghra Gumpha
Vyaghra Gumpha is one of the popular caves in Udayagiri. The cave, which is in ruins, has the entrance carves like a large mouth of a tiger. It is one of the most photographed site in Udayagiri. The word 'vyaghra' means tiger. The inscription found here tells that this cave belongs to the city judge Sabhuti.
- 13. Sarpa Gumpha
Sarpa Gumpha is unusually very small cave. There are two inscriptions found in this cave. The word 'sarpa' means snake.
- 14. Hathi Gumpha
Hathi Gumpha is a natural cavern. On the wall, the inscription erected by Kharavela is found. It is the main source of history of Kharavela.
The word 'hathi' means elephant.
- 15. Dhanaghara Gumpha
Dhanaghara Gumpha is a small cave which has two wide pillars and dwara pala sculptures carved at the entrance.
- 16. Haridasa Gumpha
Haridasa Gumpha is a small cave with three entrances and a verandah in the front side. There is an inscription found here.
- 17. Jagannatha Gumpha
Jagannatha Gumpha is roughly cut cave with three entrances.
- 18. Rasui Gumpha
Rasui Gumpha is unusually very small cave.
Caves at Khandagiri
List of Caves at Khandagiri :
- Tatowa gumpha No.-1
- Tatowa gumpha No.-2
- Ananta gumpha
- Tentuli gumpha
- Khandagiri gumpha
- Dhyana gumpha
- Navamuni gumpha
- Barabhuji gumpha
- Trusula gumpha
- Ambika gumpha
- Lalatendukesari gumpha
- Ekadasi gumpha
The above nomenclature has no historical significance but is accepted at present for the convenience of scholars and general readers. The art of Udayagiri and Khandagiri, being almost contemporaneous with that of Sanchi, has a striking resemblance to it but at the same time retains its own individuality and advanced technique.
The Khandagiri hills fall on your left side when you enter into this area from Bhubaneswar. There are 15 caves in Khandagiri.
- 1. Tatowa Gumpha
The parrots are carved above the entrance arch and hence it is called as Tatowa Gumpha. It has two dwarapala figures too.
- 2. Tatowa Gumpha
The cave sharing the same name with the first cave has a veranda with pilasters containing exquisite carvings.
- 3. Ananta Gumpha
The cave has sculptures of women, elephants, geese, etc.
- 4. Tentuli Gumpha
It is a small rock cut chamber with just one column.
- 5. Khandagiri Gumpha
It is a roughly cut cell and has double storeys.
- 6. Dhyana Gumpha
It is a roughly cut cell.
- 7. Navamuni Gumpha
Navamuni Gumpha is a roughly cut cell with the sculptures of nine Jain Tirthankaras and Sasana Devis.
- 8. Barabhuji Gumpha
Barabhuji Gumpha has two relief images of twelve armed Sasana Devis, hence it is called as Barabhuji (meaning twelve armed) Gumpha. There are few Tirthankara sculptures also found in this cave. The Sasana Devis are worshiped as Hindu deity Durga nowadays. The priests in this shrine claim some Jain Tirthankara sculpture as Surya.
- 9. Trusula Gumpha
Trusula Gumpha appears to be reconverted in the medieval times. There are three sculptures of Rishabha Deva who is found in the standing posture and look beautiful. Apart from these sculptures there are sculptures of 24 Jain Tirthankaras which look rough.
- 10. Ambika Gumpha
Few relief images of Sasana Devis are found here.
- 11. Lalatendu Keshari Gumpha
The relief images of Mahavira, Parshvanath and few Jain Tirthankaras are found here.
Caves 12, 13 and 15 are unnamed. Cave 14 is very simple and called as Ekadasi Gumpha.
Entry fee for 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) - Rs. 15 per head and for each foreigner is Rs. 500 or US $10.00 and free entry for children below 15 years.
The monument remains open from sunrise to sunset.
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- Krishan 1996, p. 23.
- Pandya 2014, p. 6.
- Kapoor 2002, p. 375.
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- Singh, Sarina (2015), Lonely Planet India, Lonely Planet, ISBN 9781743609750
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves.|
- Udayagiri Complex, extensive image gallery by Indira Gandhi National Centre of Arts
- Detailed Photos of the Cave Temples