Udayagiri & Khandagiri
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Udayagiri & Khandagiri

Item Code: NAJ064
Author: Debala Mitra
Publisher: Archaeological Survey of India
Language: English
Edition: 1992
Pages: 80 (31 B/W Illustrations and 1 Map)
Cover: Paperback
Other Details 8.5 inch x 5.5 inch
Weight 150 gm



The records, found incised on the walls of some of these caves, furnish the supreme evidence of the existence of a powerful dynasty, the Chetis (Chedis). They reveal that some time in the first century B C or slightly earlier, the rulers of the Cheti dynasty, who called themselves Mahameghavahanas, came into power in Kalinga. Of the rulers of the dynasty, only the names of Kharavela and Kudepasiri (or Vakradeva), together with that of a prince, Vadukha, are known from the inscriptions in the Udayagiri caves, though their mutual relationship is not known. While Kudepasiri and Vadukha are known only as the donors of two of the cells of the lower storey of Cave 9 (Manchapuri) of Udayagiri, many details are available about Kharavela from his famous inscription engraved on the brow of the rock over Cave 14 (Hathigumpha) of the same hill. The inscription, in seventeen lines, is largely defaced and indistinct, with the result that its full text cannot be made out and its interpretation is not always above doubt. But the following facts seem to be well-established.


The third king of his dynasty, Kharavela was a powerful ruler. As a prince, he acquired great proficiency in games and received good education. He was installed as yuvaraja (crown prince) when he was sixteen and succeeded to the throne when he was twenty-five. Almost immediately thereafter he launched Kalinga on an ambitious career of conquest, leading expeditions far and wide. In the second year of his rule he led his troops to the west without caring for the Satavahana king Satakarni and reached the river Krishna, where he threatened the city of Asika. In his fourth year he captured the capital of a prince named Vidyadhara and subdued the Rashtrikas and Bhojakas in the north Deccan. Four years later, he stormed Gorathagiri (Barabar hills, District Gaya) and harassed the ruler of Rajagriha (Rajgir, District Nalanda). A Yavana (Indo-Greek) king is said to have fled to Mathura out of fear. In his eleventh year he destroyed the city of Pithuda (Masulipatam region) and next year threatened the rulers of Uttarapatha (north India) and defeated King Bahasatimita of Magadha (south Bihar). He brought back with him booty from Anga (east Bihar) and Magadha, including a Jaina cult object (Kalinga-Jina), which had been taken away long ago by Nanda, the ruler of Magadha. Next he snatched treasures from the Pandyan king in the extreme south. Thus, the brunt of Kharavela's sword was felt throughout a large part of India.


Kharavela was as great in peace as in war. In the first year of his rule he rebuilt the gates and walls of Kalinganagara, his capital, which had been devastated by a cyclone. In the fifth year he enlarged a canal, said to have been excavated by a Nanda king three hundred years ago. In the Kumari-parvata (Udayagiri-Khandagiri) he excavated, in the thirteenth year, caves for Jaina ascetics and erected at an enormous cost, on the praghhara in the neighbourhood of the monastic retreats, a certain structure with hundreds of stones collected from different quarries and pillars with core of eat's eye gem. No doubt Kharavela was a ruler of great accomplishments.


In spite of his claiming an eclectic attitude by honouring all sects and repairing temples of all gods, Kharavela was undoubtedly a Jaina and espoused with great zeal the cause of his faith, which appeared to have been the state religion of Kalinga and which had received a set-back not only when the Nandas of Magadha (fourth century BC) carried away the Jina of Kalinga, probably as a trophy, but also with Buddhism gaining foothold under the Mauryan king Asoka (circa 273-36 BC) when he annexed Kalinga to his empire.


It is obvious that during the rule of the Mahameghavahanas the hills were honeycombed with caves. The activities of Kudepasiri and Vadukha have been mentioned above (p. 3). In addition, Kharavela's chief queen is known to have been the donor of the upper storey of Cave 9 (Svargapuri) of Udayagiri. It is also almost certain that the majority of the caves originated during this period. At the same time, an earlier origin of the Jaina establishment on the hills is not entirely ruled out. It is also not unlikely that the K alinga-Jina removed by the Nanda king and recovered by Kharavela (p. 4) had its original enshrinement on the hills and was reinstalled here by Kharavela.


After the fall of the Mahameghavahana dynasty, Jainism is not known to have enjoyed royal patronage, but the religion doubtless continued to have its stronghold on the hills, despite the political vicissitudes through which the country passed. The rise of the Lakulisa-Pasupata sect, which transformed Bhubaneswar into a Saiva centre and the growing influence of which was ultimately responsible for the decline of Buddhism in that city and its surroundings, hardly affected this Jaina centre, which, inscriptions show, continued to be inhabited under the Bhaumas and their successors, the Somavarhsis. However, during the rule of the latter, Khandagiri, called Kumaraparvata in an inscription of the fifth year of Udyotakesari (eleventh century) in Cave 11, acquired greater prominence.! and a few of the old cells were converted into sanctuaries by the carving of reliefs of Tirthankaras and the sasanadeuis on the walls. This period also saw the construction of structural temples, suggested not only by the abovementioned inscription recording the setting up of the images of twenty-four Tirthankaras, but also by the discovery of a large number of nude chlorite images of different Tirthankaras and enormous numbers of architectural fragments lying in some areas on the hill (p. 69). The prolonged Digambara association of the Khandagiri caves during the reign of the Gangas and their successors, the Gajapatis, is proved by the crude reliefs of the Tirthankaras on the walls of Cave 9 (Trisula-gumpha) of Khandagiri, which are not earlier in date than the fifteenth century and may be even later. Evidence regarding the cells being tenanted in this period by the monastic fraternities is, however, lacking.


The period thereafter is blank in the history of Khandagiri till the construction of the temple on the crest (p. 71). Stirling, who noticed the temple in 1825, noted it as 'a neat stone temple of modern construction'. He does not make any mention of Jaina monks living in the caves, though the place was 'frequented by the Jain or Parwar merchants of Cuttack, who assemble here in numbers, once every year, to hold a festival of their religion'. It is thus evident that the Jaina occupation of the hill was continuous, if with occasional breaks, from even before the time of Kharavela down to the present day.




General information












Social life


The Udayagiri monuments


Cave 1 (Rani-gumpha)


The lower storey


The upper storey


Cave 2 (Bajaghara-gumpha)


Cave 3 (Chhota-Hathi-gumpha)


Cave 4 (Alakapuri-gumpha)


Cave 5 (Jaya-Vijaya-gumpha)


Cave 6 (Panasa-gumpha)


Cave 7 (Thakuranr-gumpha)


Cave 8 (Patalapurt-gumpha)


Cave 9 (Mafichapuri and Svargapuri)


The lower storey


The upper storey


Cave 10 (Ganesa-gumpha)


The apsidal structure


Cave 11 (JambeSvara-gumpha)


Cave 12 (Bagh-gumpha)


Cave 13 (Sarpa-gumpha)


Cave 14 (Hathi-gumpha)


Cave 15 (Dhanaghara-gumpha)


Cave 16 (Haridasa-gumpha)


Cave 17 Oagannatha-gumpha)


Cave 18 (Rasui-gumpha)


The Khandagiri monuments


Cave I (Tatowa-gumpha 1)


Cave 2 (Tatowa-gumpha 2)


Cave 3 (Ananta-gumpha)


Cave 4 (Tentuli-gumpha)


Cave 5 (Khandagiri-gumpha)


Cave 6 (Dhyana-ghara, Dhyana-gumpha or Shell- cave)


Cave 7 (Navamuni-gumpha)


Cave 8 (Barabhuji-gumpha)


Cave 9 (Triswa-gumpha, Satbakhra or Mahavira- gumpha)


Cave 10


Cave 11 (Lalatendukesarf-gumpha)


Caves 12-15 and other minor monuments


The Jaina temple and Deva-sabha


Select bibliography



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