Udayagiri Caves


Useful Information

Location: 6km from Bhubaneswar Railway Station, District Puri.
Open: All year daily 6-18
Fee: Adults RS 2.
Classification: ExplainCave Church
Guided tours:  
Bibliography: Dr R P Mohapatra (ny): Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves
Address: Udayagiri Caves, Tel: +91-, Fax: +91-,
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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1st century BC excavated.


A few km west of Bhubaneswar city centre are two hills, facing each other honeycombed with caves, most of which are numbered. Udayagiri or Sunrise hill to the north of the approach road has the most interesting caves which contain some fine sculptures.

Cave No 1 Rani Gupha. This is the largest and most elaborate cave residence of the series. Numerous small cells excavated on two levels around three sides of a large court are sheltered by collapsed colonnades. The cell doorways are embellished with pilasters crowned by animals on the capitals. On the walls flanking the end pilasters are guardian figures, some in foreign dress (upper storey, right wing). The relief arches over the doorways have lotus ornaments; they are connected by a railing frieze. On either side of the arches are carved panels. On the lower storey these represent pious couples and musicians and dancers (side wings), and scenes of nature with birds and animals (corner rooms). On the better-preserved upper storey there are episodes from an unidentified narrative: these depict, left to right, an attendant with a tray; elephants before a man with a club; an attendant woman; a fight between a man and a woman; the abduction of a woman; a riderless horse sheltered by a parasol; a hunter aiming at a winged deer; a hunter with a woman in a tree; and a seated woman with attendants.

Cave Nos 3, 4 and 5 There are elephants carved in relief flank in the arch over the entrance to Cave No 3. In the adjoining two-storey Cave No 4 are sculptures of elephants, lions and pairs of winged animals on column brackets in the upper storey.

Cave 5, which is also two storeyed, is linked with the upper cell of Cave 4. Here, figures are carved on the end pilasters. Above the doorways to the two cells are arches within which there is a depiction of a sacred tree surrounded by a railing.

Cave No 9 This is a complex of cells arranged on two storeys. On the lower level, armed guardians (worn) are carved on to the end pilasters of the verandah. The doorways within are surmounted by relief arches, between which is a scene (damaged) with royal figures worshipping at a shrine. The cave is distinguished by an inscription donated by the Chedi rulers.

Cave No 10, Ganesha Gupha. This is named after the image of the Hindu elephant god which was carved at a later date on to the rear wall of the right cell. In front of the cave are two detached monolithic elephants lifting branches with their trunks. The cave itself consists of two low-roofed cells with four doorways and a verandah. A guardian holding a spear is carved on to the left pilaster; the other pilasters have male or female figures caved on them. Each doorway is surmounted by relief arches between which are depictions of a fight, an abduction and an elopement (similar to the scenes in Cave 1).

Cave No 12. Bagh Gupha. The entrance to this cave is shaped into the semblance of the head of an open mouthed tiger. [Tiger = Bagh]

Cave No 14 Elephant Cave contains a 117 line inscription describing its builder as King Kharaveli of Kalinga who ruled from 168 to 153 BC.

Text by Tony Oldham (2003). With kind permission.