From the beginning of its ascendancy, Odisha has a very affluent art and crafts, heritage and culture. Along with some fine beaches, temples, wildlife sanctuaries, breathtaking locale, natural lakes, waterfall, historical monuments, archeological sites, Odisha carved out its own name in the golden book of history. Among these places Udayagiri and Khandagiri cave shrines stand out as unique.
As I drive through the heavy traffic to reach Udayagiri and Khandagiri to contemplate the man-made wonder fabricated centuries ago. The architecture, art, culture and religion importance of this rock cut Jain chapels is famous for its prehistoric glory. Situated around six kilometers from Bhubaneswar, Udaygiri caves separated from Khandagiri by a highway. This age old caves are blend of natural and artificial architecture parlante. Both Udayagiri and Khandagiri caves were burrowed principally during the Kharavela empire for the altar of Jain ascetics.
Udayagiri means Sunrise hills. It has total of 18 cave sanctums consist of slight and sizeable caves. As I heard a lot about Rani Gumpha, so with out even a blink straight jumped to Rani Gumpha. The word Rani means Queen. Although it's a two storied cavern and largest among all other caves, it's not an architectonic stunner compared to other caves but it has some ancient beauteous sculpture.
Some of the in-sculpt on the façade of the rock sculpture are Dwara Pala, wild animals, fruitful trees, human figures. Among these things Jain deistic and aristocratic scenes are engraved in this monolith. I took a sigh inside the Rani Gumpha for a moment to enshrine the cave shrine.
By walking down the rocky road i reached Ganesh Gumpha.
One of the most important caves in the Udayagiri cavern, where two elephant effigy carrying festoon at the threshold of this rock shelter is quadrupling the beauty of this cave.
Then I headed to the vicinity of Hati Gumpha, which is also famous for it's art and architecture along with Hati Gumpha inscription, incised in Brahmi rune by King Kharavela, the imperator of Kalinga during 2nd century BC.
Then I got a glimpse of Sarpa(Snake) Gumpha, Bagha(Tiger) Gumpha and Jambeswara Gumpha. These are very cramped cave but the shape of Bagha Gumpha is like a mouth of tiger.
Dwara Pala sculpting is making the archway of Dhanaghara Gumpha more beautiful and the ruins and remains of Jain religious sculpture shining through the shrine of Manchapuri and Swargapuri Gumpha making it distinguishable from others.
Despite being a part of Udayagiri cavern, the ruinates; Patalapuri Gumpha, Thakurani Gumpha, Panasa Gumpha, Jaya Vijay Gumpha, Alkapuri Gumpha, Chhota Hati (small elephant) Gumpha hold very less significance to the history and archaeology.
After gazing through the primitive art and craft, I realised that the foothold of modern architecture are the ancient old art, craft, heritage, culture and sculptures. No pictures can portray or no story can justify these man-made wonder of their era as it is being masterpiece of its kind.
After having a luscious lunch, I set out towards Khandagiri caves. On the way to atop encountered some monkeys but as it turns out to be the pet of local vendor. They will not harm you as long as you don't mischief with them.
Khandagiri has total of 15 caves but most of those are in ruins without proper care. I spotted some of the remnants of ancient old architecture. Dhyana Gumpha, Navamuni Gumpha, Khandagiri Gumpha, Tentuli Gumpha, Ananta Gumpha, Tatowa Gumpha are among the cavern.
Jain temple atop of Khandagiri caves glorifying it's beauty immensely. It's a holy place of Digambar Jain and hold very much of religious sentiment and importance.
As Khandagiri is open and there is no fences or boundaries, making the place a business hub for some locals and they mostly deal with handiwork of their own and miniature of God and religious accent objects.
As there is a saying "As the archaeology of our thought easily shows, man is an invention of recent date. And one perhaps nearing its end."
HOW TO REACH - You can reach Bhubaneswar by flight or train and from there you can book a cab or use public transportation to reach Udayagiri and Khandagiri.
WHERE TO STAY - You can stay in Bhubaneswar as you will get vareities of Hotels.
ENTRY FEES - The entry fees for Udaygiri Caves is only Rs.15 and there is no entry fees for Khandagiri Caves.