Udayagiri Cave Complex – Cave 2 to Cave 9


Cave 2: Bajaghara-Gumpha – This is a twin cave, comprises of two independent cells with their own verandahs. As both cells are carved on the same boulder, therefore it is referred as a single cave. The front portions of both the cells are much damaged, the right cell is better preserved than the left. Verandahs were supported on pillars and pilasters, while pillars are all gone, pilasters are still extent. From the pilasters, it is evident that the capitals of the pillars were very similar to other cave, carved with two animals, shown back to back. The animals on the left cell pilaster has heads of bird, with one having wings. While, elephants is the animal on the right cell pilaster.

Chhota-hathi-gumpha, taken by William Henry Cornish in 1892 (image courtesy – British Library)

Cave 3: Chota-Hathi-gumpha – This cave is named after the exquisite carving of elephants on its front facade. It is a single cell without any verandah. Sockets at the doorway suggests wooden door was once fitted at the entrance. The entrance is made of two pilasters with an arched torana above. As the pilasters do not taper much towards the top, thus the entrance is very much rectangular in size. The capital of the pilasters has winged animals. A railing running across the façade, connected with the two ends of torana. On either side of this torana, over spandrels, are carved six elephants, three on each side. They are shown carrying flowers and depositing above the arch. There is an inscription, however it is incomplete and damaged. It reads, ” The cave of ……”1


Cave 4: Alakapuri-gumpha – This is the first cave when you enter into the Udayagiri complex through ticket counter. It is s double story cave, the lower story is much damaged. Lower story is a single cell, verandah of which has been fallen long back. The upper story also is a single cell, entered through three doorways. The verandah is much intact however the supporting pillars are all modern construction. Among the surviving brackets, the one depicting a royal elephant is interesting. This royal elephant is accompanied with two other elephants, one holding an umbrella and another a fly-whisk. Though the pillars are modern, however their capitals are original. Like other specimen in the complex, the capitals here also show pair of winged-animals, some with human head and some with bird heads.


Cave 5: Jaya-Vijaya-gumpha – This cave is located adjacent to the upper story of cave 4. This is a two cell structure, fronted with a benched verandah, latter is supported on one pillar and two pilasters. The pillar is a modern replacement. Its pilasters are adorned with guardians, a male guard on the left and a female guard on the right. The female guard has a parrot on her right hand fingers.

The two cells have their own entrance doorway. The doorway is made with two pilasters, without tapering towards top, adorned with an arched chaitya above. This results in three spandrels, one in middle of the doors and two on either side. The capital of pilasters have winged animals, mostly single horned. A railing runs across the front facade, connecting the doorways and arches.

Tree worship

The terminal spandrels, on either side, shows a flying vidhyadharas holding a basket and flower stalks. The middle spandrel has a tree inside railings, with an umbrella on top, suggesting its sanctity. It is being worshiped by two couples, one on each side. A unique and interesting feature of the sculpture is the perspective or 3-dimensional rendering of the railing around the tree.


Cave 6: Panasa-gumpha – The name of the cave is due to a panasa (Artocarpus integrifolia) tree in front2. There is nothing much interesting in this cave, as it is now bereft of its front verandah and the cell is exposed to a visitor.


Cave 7: Thakurani-gumpha – This two storeyed-cave is situated left to cave 6. The lower story has a single cell fronted by a verandah supported on a pillar and two pilasters. The capitals of these pillars are adorned with addorsed winged-animals. The upper cell is smaller in scale and is fronted with a benched verandah.


Cave 8: Patalapuri-gumpha – This fairly large cave has four cells, two at the rear wall and two at the sides. The veranda was supported on three pillars and two pilasters, only two pillars are extant now. The capitals of these pillars have addorsed winged animals. The partition wall between the cells at rear wall has long fallen, thus making is a large single room. The walls separating the openings is also fallen and now replaced with modern constructions. Nothing of much interest is found in the cave.


Cave 9: Manchapuri & Svargapuri – This is a double storey cave, lower story known as Manchapuri and the upper storey as Svargapuri. Like other double storey caves at the site, here also the upper storey is excavated keeping a recess in front so that it does not directly lies above the lower storey.

Manchapuri or lower storey

Manchapuri, the lower storey, has two separate however connected wings. The front wing has three cells, two on the rear and one on the right side of the verandah. The wing on the right has a single cell preceded by a verandah. Dvarpalas are provided for both the wings. The front wing is supported on four pillars and two pilasters. All the four pillars are modern replacements.

Re-installation of Kalinga Jina

Doorways of the cells are made with two pilasters supporting an arch with srivatsa as its crown. The arches are made of flowers except one where alternate compartments marked by a creeper is relieved with an animal and a boy. The pilasters are carved in high relief, pot-bases above pedestal, pot-base below capital, capital with addorsed animals. The beam running at the level of arch tops is on form of railings. This beam is broken between the second and third door as this space is utilized for a relief, though badly damaged now. Its left part is badly damaged, the right is still in good condition. In the middle is placed a religious motif, probably mounted on a pedestal, however what this motif could be is beyond recognition. On its right are four standing men, and an elephant, on which they all might have arrived. The second person from the left appears to be of royal personage, as evident from his crown. The above portion has three flying figures, two gandharvas and one vidhyadhara. A symbol of Sun, carved in between these figures suggests the celestial character of the region.

T N Ramachandran3 makes two inferences on the personages shown in the above relief. He suggests that either it depicts King Kharavela and Prince Kudepasiri along with queen or princess doing honor to the Kalinga Jina recovered by King Kharavela from his Magadha campaign or it may depict King Kudepasiri and prince Vadukha. Panigrahi4 goes for the first suggestion, that it represents King Kharavela and his family paying homage to Kalinga Jina, however he asserts that this scene would have been carved during the time of King Kudepasiri as this cave is excavated during his time.

Sahu5 agrees that the scene would have been carved during the time of King Kudepasiri however it represents King Kharavela standing with his priest which is a Brahman as evident from his dress. Behind King are standing his two queens. Sahu interprets that as the priest is a Brahman, though the state religion was Jain during Kharavela’s time however Brahmans still had a high influence over the royal religious rituals.

Inscription of Kudepasiri

The portion between the third and four door has an inscription, recording the dedication of the cave by a king of Mahameghavahana family of Kalinga, whose name has been read as Kudepasiri. Mitra6 suggests that the king mentioned in the inscription might be the same depicted in the relief carved in the cave. The cell to the right side of veranda also has a dedicatory inscription, mentioning prince named Vadukha, who may be either a son or a brother of Kudepasiri. The inscription reads, “(This is) the cave of the clever, the King, master of Kalinga, whose vehicle is the great cloud, Kudepasiri”1. There is also an inscription on the side wall of this lower storey. This inscription reads, “The cave of the Prince Vadukha.1

Svargapuri or upper storey

Svargapuri, or the upper storey, also has two wings. The front wing has a single but a long cell on its rear and a small cell on its side. The cell doorways are made in the same fashion as of the below storey. Though otherwise uninteresting storey as bereft of any decoration and embellishment, it has a very important inscription, recording the dedication of the cave by the chief queen of king Kharvela. The inscription is written in three lines and is located between the second and the third arch of the cell doorways. The inscription reads, “This temple of the Arhats (and) cave for the Sramanas of Kalinga has been made. It has been made by the chief queen of the illustrious Kharavela, the overlord of Kalinga, who was the daughter of King Lalaka and the grandson of Hastisahasa (or Hastisaha)”1. Another interesting feature of the cave is its recess or open terrace which has a parapet decorated with railing on its outer face.

Next – Cave 10: Ganesha-gumpha

1 Banerji, R D (1916). Epigraphia Indica vol. XXIII. Archaeological Survey of India. New Delhi. pp 159-167
2 Mitra, Debala (1960). Udayagiri & Khandagiri. Archaeological Survey of India. New Delhi. p 34
3 Ramachandran, T N (1951). Indian Historical Quarterly vol. XXVII no. 2. pp 103-104
4 Panigrahi, K C (1961). Archaeological Remains in Bhubaneswar. Kitab Mahal. Cuttack. pp 206-207
5 Sahu, N K (1984). Kharavela. Orissa State Museum. Bhubaneswar. p 69
6 Mitra, Debala (1960). Udayagiri & Khandagiri. Archaeological Survey of India. New Delhi. p 38