Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves One of the earliest groups of Jain rock-cut shelters, the caves of Udayagiri (Hill of Sunrise) and Khandagiri (Broken Hills) command a unique position in the filed of history, rock-cut architecture, art and religion. These hills rise abruptly from the coastal plain, about six km west of Bhubaneswar, separated by a highway.
The caves of Udayagiri and Khandagin are essentially dwelling retreats or cells of the Jain ascetics, opening directly into the verandah or the open space in front. Mostly excavated near the top of the ledge or boulder, they simply provided dry shelter for meditation and prayer, with very little amenities even for little comforts. The height being too low, does not allow a person to stand erect.
The name Udayagiri means Hill of Sunrise. There are 17 caves in Udayagiri. The Rani Gumpha or the Queen’s Cave is the largest, most majestic cave here. It is a two storied monastery supported by many columns and terraces. The cave contains attractous sculptures of dancing women, royal entourage, and musical instruments. Other important caves in this hill are the Alkapuri Gumpha, a double storied cave with columns which contains sculptures of elephants and heavenly creatures apart from ornaments and treasures.
The Ganesa Gumpha is one of the rare caves with multiple dwellings and terraces. It is best known for the sculpture of Ganesha that is inscribed on the rear wall of the cave. It also shows a Jain Tirthankara at worship and contains sculptures of elephants. The entrance to the Vyagraha Ghumpa is also noteworthy for its splendid sculpture over the entrance.
Both the Tatowa Gumphas have parrot carvings over the entrance arches. These caves also bear some inscriptions of the time and the use of natural colour pigments is evident. The Ananta Gumpha is a very interesting cave in this complex and in this cave there are ancient Jain motifs such as Swastikas and serpents. The Navamuni Gumpha carries sculptures depicting 9 Jain Tirthankaras or seer-sages. This cave depicts a number of Digambara Jains at prayer. The Barabhuji Gumpha came to be named after two sculptures with 12 arms each. This cave has a relief depicting a number of Hindusim.
The two hills of Udayagiri and Khandagiri are at a distance of about 6 kilometres from Bhubaneshwar city centre. The nearest airport and railway junction is at Bhubaneshwar. From the city private or shared cabs take visitors to the hills. Bhubaneshwar is a state capital and budget and luxury accommodation may be found here.