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Photo Feature: Jain Caves of Udaygiri and Khandagiri

Updated on March 16, 2016

Udaygiri-Khandagiri is a group of caves which is very important in the view of archeology, religion and ancient history of India. The caves were carved for Jain monks in the reign of the famous Kaling Emperor Kharvel, who was a great patron of Jainism and a devote Jain. The caves were exclusively carved for the wandering Jain monks who occasionally resided here. This was a great place of meditation for Jain monks. The caves were carved in 2nd Century B.C.E.

The caves are situated on two hills near Bhubaneshwar, the Capital city of the state of Odisha, India. There are a total number of 33 caves.

Few years ago I got an opportunity to visit the cave with my cousins and uncle. I took a lot of photographs of the caves and the art sculpture in it.

A View of Udaygiri Caves

Udaygiri: Photograph taken from Khandgiri hill
Udaygiri: Photograph taken from Khandgiri hill | Source

Hathigumpha: The Elephant Cave

Hathigumpha (Elephant Cave) is the most important cave of the Udaygiri-Khandgiri as it has an inscription which is very useful to know many things about ancient India. The inscription is in Brahmi script and Magadhi language and written in 17 lines. The inscription gives many details of the incidents in the life of Emperor Kharvel, including his conflict with Greek invader Demetrius and the surrender of Pushyamitra Shung, the Emperor of Magadh. The inscription starts with the ancient version of Namokar Mantra of Jainism. This is the oldest inscription where we find the word Bhaarat (the original name of India).


Hathigumpha i.e. Elephant Cave
Hathigumpha i.e. Elephant Cave | Source

Rani Gumpha: The Queen’s Cave

This is one of the most important caves on Udaygiri Hill. This cave was carved on wish of Sinhpath, the queen of Emperor Kharvel.

This cave is two storied and has a big ground in front of it. The cave is carved in natural rock. There is a lot of sculpture carved on the walls of cells in this cave, which tells us about the life of the Emperor.


Ranigumpha front view
Ranigumpha front view | Source
Ranigumpha: A view from second floor
Ranigumpha: A view from second floor | Source

Baghgumpha (Tiger Cave)

Baghgumpha or Tiger Cave is a unique cave of Udaygiri. This cave looks like a tiger with opened mouth. The Architect of this cave has done his best by carving teeth, nose and eyes like a tiger. The cave has a small veranda and a meditation room. There is an inscription with the symbol of Swastik in it.


Baghgumpha (Tiger Cave)
Baghgumpha (Tiger Cave) | Source
Baghgumpha (Tiger Cave) Side View
Baghgumpha (Tiger Cave) Side View | Source

Sculpture in the Cave

There are many carved sculptures in the Rani Gumpha, i.e. the Queen's Cave. The sculptures are related to some historical events.

Here are tow photographs of such sculpture. In first photo, Emperor Kharvel and his Queen Sinhpath with others are bowing Jain ascetics. Second photograph is about a battle.


Jain Idols at Khandgiri Caves

In the caves of Khandgiri, there are many beautiful and ancient idols of Jain teertahnakars. The first photograph is a part of the panel of idols of 24 Jain Teerthankars with their symbols and their protector Goddesses.

The second photograph depicts idols of two Teerthankars.

Panel of idols of Jain Teerthankars
Panel of idols of Jain Teerthankars | Source
Two Teerthankars
Two Teerthankars | Source

A Tourist Place

As this place is very important for those who are interested in Ancient Indian history, archeology and Jainism, hundreds of thousands of tourists and pilgrims visit it every year. below is a photograph of European tourists visiting this place.

© Article and Photographs copyright: jainismus Mahavir Sanglikar

Documentary on Udaigiri Khandgiri Jain Caves


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  • profile image

    ashokgourav 5 years ago

    हम सभी आपके बहुत आभारी है जो इतनी बहुमूल्य जानकारी आपने हमें उपलब्ध करायी . में चाहुगा की पुरे देश की जैनसमाज आपके इस कार्य के लिए सम्मानित करे.

  • jainismus profile image

    Mahaveer Sanglikar 5 years ago from Pune, India

    Thanks, Kiran Kumarji....

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    kiran kumar jain (PhD) 5 years ago

    very nice photos of uday giri khandgiri caves .kiran kumar Jain 09502162631 and

  • jainismus profile image

    Mahaveer Sanglikar 5 years ago from Pune, India

    Nettlemere, thanks for the appreciation

  • jainismus profile image

    Mahaveer Sanglikar 5 years ago from Pune, India

    Movie Master,

    It is my pleasure to get your valuable comments.

  • jainismus profile image

    Mahaveer Sanglikar 5 years ago from Pune, India



  • QudsiaP1 profile image

    QudsiaP1 5 years ago

    I had no idea of this place but the pictures show how amazing it is. Such crafted and talented people.

  • Nettlemere profile image

    Nettlemere 5 years ago from Burnley, Lancashire, UK

    certainly wouldn't have known about this amazing place were it not for your excellent hub.

  • Movie Master profile image

    Movie Master 5 years ago from United Kingdom

    Hi jainismus, the carved sculptures are so detailed and the tiger cave impressive with it's opened mouth, these are wonderful photos and a very interesting and informative hub.

    Thank you, voted up and shared.

  • b. Malin profile image

    b. Malin 5 years ago

    What a Rich Informative Hub read Jainismus. I Loved the pictures, as well the History Lesson. Places that I will probably not be able to visit, were such a treat to read about. I look forward to Following your Hubs.

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    Rajendranath Mehrotra 5 years ago

    Please enlighten me more on such extremely important Ancient Indian histories of which U have knowledge.

    I am a passionate learner and wish to know more.

    With due regards,

    Mehrotra ( a 67+ retired engineer,

  • Apostle Jack profile image

    Apostle Jack 5 years ago from Atlanta Ga

    "Off the hook" and amazing presentation my friend.

    You did it well.