Situated 9 km from Bhubaneswar Railway Station, Udayagiri & Khandagiri Caves are age-old Jain rock-cut caves. The caves are also known as twin hills caves, and one of the most popular tourist destinations in Bhubaneswar and have a historical significance too.
Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves have derived their names from the two hills Udayagiri and Khandagiri. Named as Kumari & Kumara Parvatha in Hathigumpha inscription, the caves face each other and are separated by a road in between. The Udayagiri and Khandagiri hills are a talisman of the earliest groups of Jaina rock-cut architecture in the east of India in the field of architecture, art and religion. The Udayagiri and Khandagiri caves, called Lena in the inscriptions, were dug during the reign of Kharavela for the abode of Jaina monks during 1st century BC. A. Stirling introduced these caves in 1825 AD.
In total there are 33 rock-cut caves on both the hills. Out of the 33, 18 caves are excavated on Udayagiri hill while 15 are situated the Khandagiri hill. Udayagiri means the Hill of Sunrise. The Rani Gumpha is the largest and the architectural marvel of the entire complex. Many columns and terraces support the two-storeyed monastery. The cave showcases sculptures of dancing women, royal entourage, and musical instruments. In Udayagiri cave, Hathi Gumpha and Ganesha Gumpha are exceptionally well known for their sculptures and historical importance.
Of the 15 Caves in Khandagiri, Ananta Gumpha is the most beautiful. The cave is named after carvings of two serpents on the entrance. The wall carvings depict figures of women and children, athletes, lions, bulls and many other animals. The Navamuni Gumpha showcases sculptures depicting 9 Jain Tirthankaras while the Barabhuji Gumpha has 2-relief images of twelve armed Sasana Devis. There are few Tirthankara sculptures in this cave too. Khandagiri offers a splendid view of Bhubaneswar from its summit.
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