Udayagiri and Khandagiri caves are one the ancient caves located on the hills situated near the capital of Orissa, Bhubaneswar. These magnificent caves were believed to be built in the 2nd century by great Jain King Kharavela as residential places for Jain monks although few caves also shows some relations connected to Buddhism. Udayagiri and Khandagiri caves are approximately 135 ft and 118 ft in height respectively and are famous for stupendous carvings on the wall of caves. In total, there are 33 rock cut caves of which Udayagiri have 18 and Khandagiri have 15. Most of the caves are found to be single storied but there are some double storied as well. They are also too low to stand in and resemble small and narrow compartments. These caves were later exposed to damage as the hills were not strong for digging or cutting. This site is currently under Archaeological Survey of India and they have done some comprehensive repairing inside the caves.
Udayagiri means “Sunrise Hill” and has the most fascinating caves. There are 18 caves here beginning from the base of the hill. The caves are all numbered and few of them are even named. “Rani Gumpha or Queen’s Cave”, a double storied cave situated at the base is the most impressing among all the caves here. It is decorated with king’s victorious scenes, religious carvings and royal court pictures. Another major cave is Ganesh Gumpha which is located just above Rani Gumpha. Bagha Gumpha illustrating shape of tiger’s open mouth is another curve situated here. Another important cave is Hathi Gumpha or the Elephant Cave with beautiful statues of elephants equipped on the gate. Here some of the rock engraving also speaks of the Chedi Dynasty.
Khandagiri means “Broken Hill” and has 15 caves in total. There are couple of Jain temples along with the caves. Here most the caves are named based on the scenes and pictures on the walls of the caves like Tatowa cave which is named after the carvings of two parrots on the door curvature. Ananta Gumpha is considered as the most interesting cave here and is named after the design of two serpents on the door arches. There are lot of carvings on the walls resembling women, children, athletes and many other animals. Navamuni Gumpha, originally a residential cell, was named after the nine Tirthankaras (munis) that are designed on the back and right walls of the caves.