Undavalli Caves

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Undavalli Caves
Ananta Padmanabha Swami Temple.jpg
The largest of the Undavalli Caves
Map showing the location of Undavalli Caves
Map showing the location of Undavalli Caves
Map showing the location of Undavalli Caves
Map showing the location of Undavalli Caves
LocationTadepalle Mandal in Guntur District, Andhra Pradesh,  India
Discovery420 - 620 AD
Section of Undavalli Caves

The Undavalli Caves, a monolithic example of Indian rock-cut architecture and one of the finest testimonials to ancient viswakarma sthapathis, are located in Undavalli of Guntur district in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. The caves are located 6 km south west from Vijayawada, 22 km north east of Guntur City of Andhra Pradesh. It is one of the centrally protected monuments of national importance.[1]

History[edit]

These caves are said to be found in 7th century. They are associated with the Vishnukundi kings of 420-620 A.D.. These caves are dedicated to Anantha Padmanabha and Lord Narashimha. Buddhist monks used these as Rest Houses.[2]

Chronology[edit]

Rock cut Hindu god in Caves

These caves were carved out of solid sandstone on a hillside in the 4th to 5th centuries A.D.[3] There are several caves and the best known largest one has four stories with a huge recreated statue of Vishnu in a reclining posture, sculpted from a single block of granite inside the second floor. Undavalli caves are an example of how many Buddhist artifacts and stupas in Andhra were converted into Hindu temples and deities. It was originally a Jain cave resembling the architecture of Udayagiri and Khandgiri.[4] The main cave is one of the earliest examples of Gupta architecture, primarily primitive rock-cut monastery cells carved into the sandstone hills.[5] Initially the caves were shaped as a Jain abode and the first floor abode still retains the Jain style; the vihara exhibits Jain monastics and includes tirthankara sculptures. This first level of the cave is a carved vihara and includes Buddhist art work.[6] The site served as the Bhikkhu monastic complex during ancient period.[7] The walls of the caves display sculptures carved by skilled craftsmen.

The caves are surrounded by the green countryside. From the high hill above the cave overlooking the Krishna River many fine specimens of rock cut architecture can be seen.

Architecture[edit]

It is an Impressive Four storey rock cut temple with East facing facade of 29m long, 16m wide. There are variation in depth of each floor. Ground floor is an unfinished low pillared hall with 8 pillars and 7 door openings on façade. First storey accommodates triple shrine at back, each with pillared hall in front, originally dedicated to the Trinity (Siva, Vishnu and Brahma).[8]

Sculptures on the walls represents Vaishnava deities. Second storey has a pillared rectangular shrine of Lord Vishnu on a Serpent. Sculptures of Shiva and Vaishnava and a few like the Vaishnava Alwars are sculptured later on. Top floor was unfinished with a Triple Shrine. Some of the sculptural specimens are attributed to Chalukyan Period. It has 5 meter long statue of Lord Buddha in reclining position.[9]

Carvings at Undavalli caves 2

Transport[edit]

The only means of connectivity for the caves is by road. APS RTC operates bus services from Vijayawada, Guntur and Amaravathi to this location.[10] APCRDA runs Tourist Bus-cum-Boat services through Krishna River from Prakasam Barrage.[11]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Centrally Protected Monuments". Archeological Survey of India. Archived from the original on 26 June 2017. Retrieved 27 May 2017.
  2. ^ "Vijayawada-The place of Victory/Undavalli Caves". Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  3. ^ "Undavalli Caves". andhratourism.com. Retrieved 2006-08-19.
  4. ^ "Undavalli Caves". showcaves.com. Retrieved 2006-08-19.
  5. ^ Thapar, Binda (2004). Introduction to Indian Architecture. Singapore: Periplus Editions. p. 10. ISBN 0-7946-0011-5.
  6. ^ An Official Website Of Guntur District Government Of Andhra Pradesh. "Undavalli Caves". Guntur District Government Of Andhra Pradesh. Retrieved 29 November 2013.
  7. ^ Tourism Department. "Undavalli Caves". Tourism Department, Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India. Retrieved 29 November 2013.
  8. ^ "ASI-Rock cut Cave Temple – Undavalli". Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  9. ^ "Vijayawada-The Place of Victory". Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  10. ^ "Tourist Services in Guntur Region". Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  11. ^ "First tourist bus-cum-boat to be functional in a week". Retrieved 6 October 2017.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 16°29′49″N 80°34′54″E / 16.49687°N 80.58178°E / 16.49687; 80.58178