Your Next Weekend Break Should Be At These Millenia Old Sandstone Caves
Interested in history and archaeology? Check out the nearly millenia-old caves in Odisha - Udaygiri and Khandagiri are 2nd century BC caves near Bhubaneshwar.
What Makes It Awesome
Situated about six kilometres from the city, they are partly natural and partly man-made ornately carved caves situated on two adjacent hills. A young British officer, Andrew Stirling, is said to be the one who first exposed these fascinating rock-cut caves to the world in the early 19th century.
The caves were created during the reign of King Kharavela of Kalinga (who ruled from 168 to 153 BC) to house Jain monks. There are around 33 rock cut caves made out of the natural sandstone hills, some have columned temples, but the one that stands out is the two-storeyed Ranigumpha in Udayagiri with a stretched verandah overlooking the courtyard.
Some of the entrances are named after an animal and the entrance in the form of an animal's face - like the Bagh Gumpha which is carved as a tiger mouth and the Sarpa Gumpha with a three-headed cobra. Some of the carved entrances to the Magar and Haati gumpha are gone. They feature classical Gupta period art and style and are protected under the Archaeological Society of India. The walls sport exquisite carvings depicting battles, teachings and performing arts. You must check out Ananta Cave with figures of athletes, women, elephants and geese carrying flowers.
What Could Be Better
Getting transport to the place can be a tough. You can get here via NH 5 - you won't get buses easily (except to the nearby Baramunda bus stand).
Book an autorickshaw for the trip from Master Canteen. It won't cost you more than INR 500 for a return trip.