A relic of a forgotten chapter of History
The caves located 7KM from Bhubaneswar takes us back in time and is probably the only recorded history of era that is still shrouded in mystery. Built somewhere around the 2nd century BC by King Kharavela of the Meghavahana dynasty, widely regarded as the most powerful king in the annals of history of Odisha, these ancient rock cut caves were first discovered by a young British Officer Andrew Sterling in the 19th century AD.
The caves built on the Kumari mountain range were built for the Jain monks and offered them a place to stay and meditate. Out of the one hundred and seventeen caves that were built originally only thirty-three survive till this day. Eighteen caves are located in the Udaygiri hill and fifteen in the Khandagiri hill.
The Archeological Survey of India (ASI) is in charge of the Udaygiri caves and it’s a ticketed monument. The major attractions of the Udaygiri caves are
Barabhuji Gumpha - features the twelve armed Sasana Devi’s facing each other along with Tirthankar sculptures.
The most extraordinary achievement of these beautifully carved caves is that each cave and sculpture was painstakingly carved by hand using basic tools. The architecture and exquisite carving is of top drawer. The carvings drew references from mythology and history. One of the most poignant section of carving is the depiction of the Kalinga War, where women and teenagers are depicted fighting to save their motherland from Ashoka’s army.
The caves served as residences for the Jain monks and were equipped with water source in form a small canal which passes through every cave, an ingenious communication system through holes, a place to light the lamps and the tilted flooring which served as a head rest. Many of the caves are double storeyed and its believed that the upper chambers of the caves were used for deep meditation.
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