Udayagiri & Khandagiri Caves Bhubaneswar

Udayagiri & Khandagiri Caves Bhubaneswar
Vital Information for Visitors

Udayagiri & Khandagiri Caves, Khandagiri, Bhubaneswar, Odisha

Open & Close:

Open on all days

Timings :

08:00 AM – 05:00 PM

Entry Fees:

Indian – INR 15 pp
Foreigner – INR 200 pp


2-3 Hours


Cave architecture & Ancient Brahmi script inscriptions

Udayagiri and Khandgiri caves can be termed as lively art gallery. One can only marvel at the patient perfectionists who created caves like Udayagiri and Khandagiri near Bhubaneswar. It is only five kilometer away. The continuity of culture and civilization of this region is further found at Khandagiri. The twin hillocks form the western skyline of the city. The rows of rock-cut caves were meant for Jain hermits. Here, in one of the caves known as the Elephant Cave is Emperor Kharavela’s- inscription that sheds light on the pre-Christian period history of Kalinga. The Khandagiri hill is famous for its spectacular twenty-four Tirthankara caves containing stone images of all Thirthankaras. Both the hills can be climbed easily. Some of the caves are fascinating for their sculpture. Historically, the most important aspect of these caves is inscriptions written in Brahmi script, dating back to 2nd century BC

In the west of Bhubaneswar on the hills of Udayagiri and Khandagiri are a number of caves which were occupied by Jain monks as early as the 2nd century B.C. These sixty some caves bear such picturesque names as Heaven, Elephant, Victory, Tiger, and Queen’s Bower: their highly detailed sculpture and great antiquity mark them as among the most important in India. From the architectural point of view, the Queen’s Cave, which really was inhabited by a penitence-minded queen, and the Ganesh Gumpha (both in Udayagiri) are the most interesting. The Rani Nahar (Queen’s) has two storeys of cells — quite a palace as caves go! — and is guarded by two sculptured armed men. Next to it is the Tiger Cave showing the beasts’ jaws wide open. Elephant Cave is reached by a path winding upward and back from the Queen’s Cave. Among some most famous caves are Ganesh Gumpha, Snake Cave, Bagh Gumpha and Navamuni Gumpha.

Only a few minutes’ walk away is the thickly wooded Khandagiri hill. Its special pride is Ananta cave with its veranda and decorated pilasters. From here to the top of the hill passing by the caves sculptured in high relief with fine, if slightly stiff-looking, Jain images, you will have a short but steep climb. But the view from the 18th-century shrine at the top which looks down on Bhubaneswar temples scattered haphazardly on the plain is worth it.

The caves of Udayagiri and Khandagiri belonging to the 2nd and 1st centuries B C, furnish us with evidence that the art in Odisha was then in a thriving condition. In these caves, we find the capability of artists in carving out caves from solid rocks. Most of the caves are even well decorated with human sculptures combined with animal and plant life. Very little comparative study of these sculptures and designs has been made with other contemporary monuments like Bharhut and Sanchi. These caves were meant for the Jain mendicants and such early art of the Jain sect is rare elsewhere in India. No trace of Buddhism or Brahminism is found anywhere in the early eaves of these two hills. The Udayagiri and Khandagiri caves and sculptures have been carved out of the existing rock of sand stone. This, no doubt, gave an impetus to the architects and artists to exhibit their excellence in building temples and making images at Bhubaneswar in the subsequent periods of history.

After Ashoka, Kharavela of Kalinga established an empire after conquering Magadha and spreading his power up to Mathura in northern India; in southern India his power extended up to Tararaparni. After this conquest of northern as well as southern India, the sculptors of Kalinga were influenced by the art of north and south and the sculptures of Khandagiri and Udayagiri near Bhubaneswar prove the influence of northern and southern India. Primarily, Gupta Art had influenced the sculptors quite deeply.

In Khandagiri hills, there are two images of Tirthankar Rishabhnath carved on the back wall of the cave and on the two sides of the images are carved eight ‘grahas’. In the cave 9 of Khandagiri, there are two chlorite images of Rishabhnath belonging to the same art tradition as that of the images of the cave 10, the back slab of which contains Ashtagrahas also. The date of the cave 10 is contemporary with the Brahmeshvara Temple. The dates of construction of Mukteshvara Temple, Rajarani Temple and Lingaraj Temple of Bhubaneswar are earlier than that of the cave 10 of Khandagiri.

The cave 10 is contemporary with the cave 11 which contains an inscription recorded in the 15th regal year of Somakuli King Udyota Kesari. Brahmeshvara Temple, contemporary to Cave 10 of Khandagiri, was built by the mother of Udyota Kesari in his 15th regal year. The Jain panel contains Ashtagrahas whereas the Brahmeshvara Temple contains Navagraha. It seems that Ashtagraha according to the Astottari system of calculation of Jyotisha, was popular among the Jain people, whereas the followers of the Brahmanic faith adopted the Vyomshottari system prescribed by Varahamihira. The Navagraha slab of the Konark Temple proves that the Brahmanic art tradition continued in Odisha much longer.

Udayagiri & Khandagiri caves are looked after by ASI (Archaeological Survey of India). Entry into the caves is ticketed.

Bhubaneswar Tour Packages

Splendid Odisha Tour

Splendid Odisha Tour

6 Nights / 7 Days
Destination : Bhubaneswar – Puri – (Konark) – (Chilika Lake) – Gopalpur – Bhubaneswar

Puri Konark Bhubaneswar Tour

Puri Konark Bhubaneswar Tour

5 Nights / 6 Days
Destination : Puri - Konark - Bhubaneswar

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