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Exploring the ancient historical Khandagiri and Udayagiri Caves in Bhubaneswar, Odisha

During our short trip to Golden Triangle of Odisha, we visited the ancient Khandagiri Udayagiri caves. On day 1 (Makara Sankranti day), we visited Lingaraj temple and on day 2 we visited Khandagiri Udayagiri Caves. We had a peep into the ancient history of the place. We booked a cab from Master Canteen junction (close to Railway Station) which costed around Rs.300/-. The place was heavily crowded with tourists.
Khandagiri Udayagiri caves are in Khandagiri, close to Bhubaneswar. These are the twin hills on either side of the main road, facing one another. There is a small ticket counter at the entrance of Udayagiri. We climbed the rocky steps of Khandagiri and went moving around from one cave after the other. We couldn't stop ourselves from appreciating the ancient artisans who molded the rocks / boulders into wonderful structures which has become an important tourist attraction in the present age.
Tourists from other states / foreign tourist have to comprise with the cleanliness. There are rows of shops and local vendors on either side of the main road. Local tourists and vendors are not much aware of the use of trash / dust bins. Hope the govt of Odisha will take extra measures for the upkeep / maintenance of these ancient rocky wonders which is one of the main tourist attractions of Bhubaneswar.

About the caves

The man-made rock-cut caves of Khandagiri and Udayagiri consist of rows of cells / rooms with pillars. The openings of these cells are sculpted with animal and human figures.
These were mainly made as shelters / resting places / dormitories(for sleeping) for the Jain monks who used to visit the place in B.C.E (Before Current Era). We couldn't witness the monks of the ancient times resting in these caves but ya, we have witnessed a local man enjoying a nap in one of the caves. Look at the pic below. Hahaa.
There are 15 caves in Khandagiri hills and 18 caves in Udayagiri hills. These caves are called 'Gumphas' in local language. The word 'gumpha' is derived from the Hindi word 'Gupha' which means cave.

You can see the no and name of each of the 'gumpha' engraved on stone in front of each of the cave.
There are even double storeyed rock-cut caves in Khandagiri and
Udayagiri with rocky steps.
These ancient monastic rock-cut caves remained undiscovered / unknown till these were excavated by King Kharavela of the Chedi Dynasty who ruled Kalinga Desa (present Odisha), in 1st Century B.C.E. Probably these were the earliest Jain caves that were excavated in India. The excavation of these caves continued by Kharavela's successors till the time of Somavamsis of 10th - 11th Century C.E (Current Era).

The famous Hathigumpha inscriptions by Kharvela written in Brahmi Lipi, are the earliest records of the Jain caves.
If you visit the place on a sunny day (even in winter), you feel totally exhausted climbing up and down the rocks. Enthusiastic tourists keep moving from one cave to the other, clicking pics. I personally feel that, if your trip to Odisha is short, better not to spend much time here as all the caves are very much similar. There is a newly constructed Jain temple atop Khandagiri Hill.
A view of the temple clicked from Udayagiri Hill. A closer look on the walls of the rocky caves reveal the incredible carving of Mahavir Jain in different postures.
And of various Hindu gods / goddesses.
Finally, its a great experience exploring the ancient caves of the bygone days. But beware, there are too many langurs on these hills.
It is better to engage a cab to and fro from Bhubaneswar. There is network problem in this region and you find it very difficult to book an ola or uber cab from here.