Exploring the twin caves of Udayagiri (Hill of Sunrise) and Khandagiri (Broken Hills) was worth spending a day knowing about our rich and less known Indian history.
It was a one day halt in Bhubaneswar. My friends and I had the entire one day as we had an overnight train to Jamshedpur on the same day. Hence, we decided to visit the very famous Nandankanan Zoo so as to spend the whole day without wasting it. But unfortunately, it was Monday and the zoo remains closed on Mondays. We did not have much idea about the city so we thought of taking help from a local resident. We were then suggested to visit the twin caves to explore the historical site located in the outskirts of the city Bhubaneswar, Odisha.
The Udayagiri and the Khandagiri Caves are located adjacent each other. Both are popular tourist attractions, close to the city of Bhubaneswar and are considered to be of prime archaeological and historical significance. These caves were dug during the reign of Kharavela, the greatest emperor of the Mahameghavahana Dynasty. The caves are one of the earliest examples of Jain rock-cut shelters. These cave dwellings are believed to have been retreats of Jain ascetics, and were primarily used for meditation and prayer.
According to scripts, Kharavela had dug out 117 caves, or "lena", for the Jain ascetics. Of these, only 18 still exist in Udayagiri, and 15 exist in Khandagiri. The caves are numbered to avoid confusion. A special mention goes to the Hathigumpa (cave 14), Rani ka Naur (cave 1) and the Ganeshgumpa (cave 10) in Udayagiri, for there intrinsic carvings, sculptures and reliefs. In Khandagiri, the Ananta Cave (cave 3) is the one to watch out for. These caves are rare example of how man and nature can work together to create a masterpiece.
I would suggest to take a guide along as there are no signspots and they would also explain everything in details. There are several snacks and tea vendors inside the premises who sell at reasonable rates, so one need not to worry about hunger and thirst while exploring these masterpieces. Also, there are many harmless monkeys who hops here and there and demands feeding from the visitors.
There are certain brief information to be noted:
1. Entry fee -15 INR per person for Indians
200 INR per person for Foreigners
25 INR for carrying video cameras.
Note: Entry fee is only charged for visiting Udayagiri Caves. Visiting Khandagiri Caves is free of cost.
2. Good for - Adventure seekers, nature lovers, history buffs, photo fanatics, experience seekers, etc.
3. Timing - 8:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. (All days of the week)
4. Location - 7.6 km (approximately) from Biju Patnaik International Airport and 11km (approximately) from Bhubaneswar Railway Station.
These twin caves can be explored within 2 to 3 hours. But if you want to enjoy your day having fun and relaxation of mind simultaneously then the entire day is more than enough. When you visit these caves, you can actually feel history reverberating. Don't forget to take your camers along. Some beautiful pictures are waiting to be clicked here.