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Udayagiri & Khandagiri

Udayagiri 004.jpg Script in Udaigiri.jpg

Udayagiri and Khandagiri caves are partly natural and partly artificial caves of archaeological, historical and religious importance near the city of Bhubaneswar in the state of Odisha. The caves are situated on two adjacent hills, Udayagiri and Khandagiri, mentioned as Kumari and Kumara Parvat in the Hathigumpha inscription. They have a number of finely and ornately carved caves. It is believed that most of these caves were carved out as residential blocks for Jain monks during the reign of King Kharavela. Udayagiri means "Sunrise Hill" and has 18 caves while Khandagiri has 15 caves. Generally caves are single storied but a few of them are double storied also. These caves, essentially meant for the dwelling retreats of the Jaina recluses. On the basis of inscriptional evidences, these caves were first excavated by king Kharavela of Chedi dynasty and his successors who were devout Jainas during the first century B.C. The Jain temple on the top of the Khandagiri hill was constructed in late 19th century. Meant for the residence of Jaina ascetics noted for their self mortification, the caves provide a little amenities. Most of the caves consist of a row of cells open either directly to the verandah or to the open space in front.

Ranigumpha and Swargapuri-Manchapuri caves are double storied and the largest in size. Ranigumpha or the queen’s palace is the architectural marvel of the entire complex. Though, architecturally the Hathi gumpha is insignificant but its historical importance lies to the famous inscription of king Kharavela engraved on its brow. The 17 line inscription records the expeditions of king Kharavela including victory of Magadha and retrieval of Jaina cult image taken away by the Nanda king long before. The depiction of 24 Tirthankaras along with Sasanadevis in the Barabhuji cave, Surya Gajalaksmi and Jaina symbols in the Ananta Gumpha of Khandagiri in relief are notable achievement of early medieval Indian art. The inscription is engraved on the raised space between the second and third doorways of the cave. The text in Devanagari script is as under: L.1- अरहंत पसादाय कलिंगानं समनानं लेनं कारितं राजिनो ललाकस L.2- हथिसिहस पपोतस धुतुना कलिंग चकवतिनो सिरिखारवेलस L.3- अगमहिसिना कारितं