Odisha and Bhubaneswar are known as the cities with so much archeological evidence. You can find so many formations and structures that date back to the past highlighting the rich old traditions. The Udayagiri Caves in Bhubaneswar is one such rock cut caves that are one of the most popular tourist destinations in Bhubaneswar. Furthermore these partly artificial and partly natural caves of Udayagiri are one of the locations that is bound to leave you awestruck with its beauty, detailing and religious importance.
So if you are ever visiting Odisha this is one of the locations that you cannot miss out on visiting. Keep on reading this article as I will mention every single detail that you need to plan a successful trip to the Udayagiri Caves Odisha. This is surely going to be a helpful read for you if you are searching information about the Udayagiri Odisha.
Location: Bhubaneswar, Odisha
Timings of Udayagiri: 9 am to 6 pm on all days
Ticket price of Udayagiri: For Indians the ticket price is Rs. 25 and if you are buying tickets online it is Rs. 20 per person and for foreigners the ticket price is Rs. 300 and for online transaction the ticket price is Rs. 250 per head. The ticket price for SAARC and BIMSTEC country citizens is Rs. 25 and for online tickets it is Rs. 20 per head. Children below 15 years of age are free.
How to reach Udayagiri
The nearest airport is the Biju Patnaik International Airport which is around 6.2 km away from Udayagiri caves and you can take a car or rickshaw to reach there in about 16 minutes.
Bhubaneswar Railway station is the nearest railway station to reach Udayagiri and it is about 8.4 km away from Udayagiri caves. However, you can reach the Udayagiri caves in about 25 minutes from the railway station by a car or any local form of transport.
You can either drive or take buses from nearby locations to reach Udayagiri. Bhubaneswar bus stand is around 7 km away and it is the nearest bus stop to reach Udayagiri in about 14 minutes.
Overview of Udayagiri:
Udayagiri Caves are a fascinating set up of deep rock cut caves that dates back to the 2nd Century BC. Located 3 km away in the west of Bhubaneswar, these caves were once a part of the Jain monastic complex. Even though many of these caves have later been converted into shrines, it is believed that most of these caves were used as study areas and residence of Jain monks. According to many historians these caves have a touch of Buddhist origin to it while some point out the innumerable Jain symbols and signs on the caves and consider them of Jain origin. However both of these groups believe that these caves have been there for time immemorial and at that time there were similar symbolism of both Buddhism and Jainism which further makes it more complicated to identify the original source.
Literally Udayagiri means the sunrise hill and it is believed that the existence of these caves and the fine carvings dates back to 50 BC. These caves are also a rich source for History, especially the Cave 14 which is the Hathigumpha inscription. The Hathigumpha inscription is the chief source of Kalinga history during the 1st and 2nd century BC. However there is still a question about how many caves are actually there in Udayagiri. According to inscriptions there are 117 of them but according to official records only 18 could be identified.
Cave 1 or the Rani Gumpha
This is a two storey structure that takes a three sided form into the open courtyard. Rani literally means the Queen. It is believed that once upon a time Queen of King Lalatendu used to stay here. You can see a series of intricate carvings on the walls of the caves. However the carvings on the lower level are somehow damaged due to extreme weather conditions and erosion. Scenes like a group receiving the king, family visiting a religious site or a dancing party are seen here.
Furthermore the second level looks more well preserved and the carvings here are better visible than the first floor. Here many scenes can be seen which historians have referred to as the personal life of the King of Kharavela.
Cave 2 or Bajaghara Gumpha
This is a smaller cave in comparison to the Cave number 1 and is more simple in its appearance. Furthermore this cave looks like a shelter belonging to a Jain monk. You can see some intricate carvings of animal patterns in this cave.
Cave 3 or Chota Hathi Gumpha
In the front entrance of the cave here you will get to see beautiful carvings of elephants. It is believed that the cave is named Hathi Gumpha on the basis of that. During recent times two columns were added here to support a rock hanging from above which has decreased the aesthetic vibe of this cave to some extent.
Cave 4 or Alakapuri Gumpha
This Udayagiri cave 4 is heavily damaged and is kept in place by adding columns during the recent years. It is a two storied structure that looks visually appealing.
Cave 5 or Jaya Vihara Gumpha
This is cave 5 of Udayagiri which is just next to the upper level of cave 4. It is a two cell cave along with a verandah. In the entrance you can witness a carving of a woman holding a parrot that is believed to be a female guard.
Cave 6 or Panasa Gumpha
This cave is also partially damaged as the front verandah of this temple has completely collapsed.
Cave 7 or Thakurani Gumpha
This Udayagiri cave is located just next to cave number 6 and it is again a two storied structure. You can find carvings of winged animals in the walls of this cave but other than that the cave is simple and plain.
Cave 8 or Patalpuri Gumpha
It is yet another large cave in Udayagiri with four cells in it. Furthermore you can see carvings of winged animals on the walls here as well.
Cave 9 or Swarg Puri and Mancapuri Gumpha
This is another two storied structure in Udayagiri and has two floors. The upper floor is known as Swarg Puri and the lower one is called the Mancapuri. Here the Mancapuri floor has some intricate carvings made on it that belong to some royal men. Furthermore the historians have opined that these carvings show King Kharavela and his family.
Cave 10 or Ganesha Gumpha
You can find two big elephant statues here carrying garlands just in front of the entrance of the cave. Also there is an image of Lord Ganesha on the back wall of the cave. Furthermore there are some disagreements on how the cave got its name. It is believed that the image of Lord Ganesha was added later in the times. So it can be possible that the cave was named after the elephant statue. The elephant statues found here are one of the first instances of animal sculpture used as a guard in front of the entrance.
Cave 11 or Jambesvara Gumpha
According to an inscription this cave belonged to the wife of Mahamade, Nayaki.
Cave 12 Vyagrhra Gumpha or Bagha Gumpha
This is one of the unique caves that you can find in Udayagiri. The uniqueness of this cave lies in the fact that the cave has been carved in the shape of the head of a tiger with its mouth wide open. Also the upper part of the opened mouth almost looks like a place where one can get some shade. Furthermore that is the reason why this cave is called the Vyaghra Cave as Vyaghra or Bagha means tiger.
Cave 13 or Sarpa Gumpha
There is a three headed serpent head carved on this cave and from there the cave got its name as Sarpa means snake. Due to the small entrance of this cave you would not be able to access this cave.
Cave 14 or Hathi Gumpha
This cave is not a man made cave like the other caves in Udayagiri but it is a natural cave. You can find elephant carvings on this cave which is the reason why this cave is named as Hathi Gumpha. You will find the main inscription here which is the chief source of the Kalinga ruler Kharavela.
Cave 15 or Dhanaghara Gumpha
This is a simple cave in Udayagiri with a small carved guard in the entrance.
Cave 16 or Haridasa Gumpha
This cave is named after Haridasa, an ascetic who used to reside here.
Cave 17 or Jagannatha Gumpha
This cave in Udayagiri is named after a painting of Lord Jagannath but is unfortunately missing at the moment.
Cave 18 or Rasui Gumpha
This was the kitchen and it has been named so as this cave was previously used to cook food.
Just reading or listening to the descriptions of the Udayagiri Caves would never solve the purpose. This is one of the most alluring spots that you need to visit during your trip to Odisha or Bhubaneswar. Only after a proper exploration and watching everything in front of your eyes, you would get an insight about this series of wondrous Udayagiri Caves Odisha. So next time when you are planning to visit Odisha you simply cannot miss out on visiting the Udayagiri Caves for sure. You should also tag along visiting the Khandagiri as well. So do let me know if this article of Udayagiri Odisha is helpful for you in planning a trip there. Also do let me know if you are intrigued enough to visit this site after reading about the description of the place in this article.