Khandagiri and Udaygiri Caves: Entry Fee, History, Architecture, Location, and Much More!

And you know what is the best way to forget all the pains you have endured after burning the midnight oil for a straight month? Going on a trip with friends to de-clutter your mind. Though our trip was only 20 minutes distance the unexpected misty rain that day had made this trip worthy of a memory.  


We reached the caves from Sum hospital square in about 15 minutes and after booking the ticket we went to Khandagiri first and then to Udaygiri.

We felt so refreshed after breathing the natural air of the surroundings and looking at the marvelous caves which make us believe in the fact that history is true and it has left proof for the generations to see how marvelous the past was despite having made it this far in the present and this present will yet become history for a coming future. 


As we were sitting down there, I remember some monkey got the attention of visitors but there was not that much of menace and we enjoyed the views nicely from caves to caves and from stones to stones. We just clicked pictures and were sitting peacefully when the rain started and we quickly ran to get cover under the caves and made it as a roof of safety from the showers.


Though the rain started heavily it didn’t drown our memories we all clicked together. We took some snacks and started munching without any further delay. And the dunny part is it stopped raining when we were halfway to finishing our snacks and were comfortably sitting on the floor not carrying about our clothes getting dirty or any embarrassment. 


We then roamed cave by cave and thought how beautifully skilled would have been the craftsmen and how knowledgeable that the carvings are intact now, a little bruised but definitely in good condition.


Then, without any further delay, we came back from Khandagiri and began climbing the Udaygiri caves. Both were covered with trees with dense crowns, it was looking like the fanning of the king caves. Though we came back a little early, but our tired feet were the keepsake for all the enjoyable and memorable moments we spent and saved together!

Khandagiri and Udaygiri Caves photo

History Of Udaygiri and Khandagiri Caves

The Udayagiri and Khandagiri caverns, formerly known as Cuttack or Kattaka Caves, were found in the 19th century by Andrew Sterling, a young British officer. According to legend, Jain monks lived a nomadic lifestyle and moved around. King Kharavela made the decision to construct a location for them where they could rest and practice meditation during one of their stays in Odisha during the monsoon season. These monks’ cave shelters were excavated out of the hills as per his order.


Each cave included a small canal that carried water from a source into it, holes for simple communication, a location to light the lights, and a floor that was slightly inclined to act as a headrest. In the upper chamber of many of these caves, it is thought that the monks engaged in intense meditation.


According to Jain tradition, Mahavira Jain, the 24th Tirthankara (spiritual teacher) of Jainism, is said to have visited Kumari Mountain at one point and expounded his ideas. Since then, this location has held special significance for Jainists. 


King Kharavela of the Kalinga dynasty is thought to have ruled during the second century BCE when the caves are said to have been constructed. 


Each of the sections that make up the caves has its own special characteristics. The Rani Gumpha (Queen’s Cave), Hathi Gumpha (Elephant Cave), and Alkapuri Gumpha (Crystal Palace Cave) are the three most well-known caves in Udayagiri. The Ananta Gumpha (Snake Cave), Tatowa Gumpha (Parrot Cave), and Navamuni Gumpha (Nine Jewels Cave) are the three most well-known caves in Khandagiri.

The Architecture of the Caves

The low ceilings of these caves, which indicate that the only posture that was conceivable in them was the bowed down stance, strongly depict the simplicity of the Jain monks. Further emphasizing it is the lack of adornment in them. Only sculptures relating to gods, religious ceremonies, and historical events can be found in these caverns.


Numerous mythological and historical tales are depicted in these caverns’ architecture and beautiful artwork. It is noteworthy that these were manually carved using straightforward, commonplace equipment. When it comes to architecture, the twin caves of Udayagiri and Khandagiri each have their own distinctive peculiarities.


There were 117 caves in total at one time, but only 33 of them are still visible now. Out of which 15 are in the Khandagiri Hills and 18 of which are in the Udayagiri Hills. The Kumari Mountain range includes the two nearby hills where these twin caves are situated. The caves in the Udayagiri Hills are maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), but those in the Khandagiri Hills are still outside of its purview.

Udaygiri and Khandagiri Caves image


Cave 1Rani Gumpha (Queen Cave) is the most significant cave in the Udayagiri Hills. It has a double-storey structure with three wings on each storey, the center wing being larger than the other wings. The left and right wings are connected by a room while the central wing contains four cells. A beautiful mural in the central wing features images of animals, human trees, musicians, and other subjects on the walls.


The right-wing, which occupies the lowest story, has three entrances with pillared halls (verandahs), and the entrance wall is adorned with sculptures of animals, royal scenes, and toranas (arched gates). Most chambers in this cave have carvings of Dwara Palas (gatekeepers), and the toranas show Jain religious icons like lotuses and snakes.


Cave 2This cave on this hill is known as Bajaghara Gumpha. The cave is modest, and its rectangular pillars are the feature that people will most likely notice as they enter. 


Cave 3- Chhota Hathi (Small Elephant) Gumpha is the name of Cave 3. In this cavern, there are six miniature elephant statues and a statue of a guardian.


Cave 4- The name of Cave 4 is Alakapuri Gumpha. A magnificent sculpture of a fearsome lion holding its prey in its mouth may be found within. 


Cave 5- Jaya Vijaya Gumpha is the name of Cave 5, and 

Cave 7- Thakurani Gumpha is the name of cave 7. 

Both of these caverns have a double-storey design with exquisite animal carvings and wall paintings.


The names of caves 6 and 8 are Panasa Gumpha and Pataliputra Gumpha, respectively. Swargapuri and Mancapuri Gumpha are the names of Cave 9. Two men and two female individuals are shown adoring the Kalinga Jina (Lord Jagannath) in this two-story cave.


Ganesha Gumpha, or Cave 10, earned its name because a statue of Lord Ganesha can be found on the back wall of its right cell. A statue of a Jain Tirthankara in a worshipful stance can also be seen in this cavern. In addition to this, the cave contains carvings of elephants and Dwara Palas.


Cave 14 is Hathi Gumpha (Elephant Cave), which among caves 11 to 18, is the most significant one. There are inscriptions about King Kharavela’s reign and accomplishments in this natural grotto. Hathi Gumpha also contains inscriptions, notably the Jains’ revered Namokar Mantra.


The names of caves 11, 12, and 13 are Jambeshvara, Vyagraha, and Sarpa Gumpha, respectively. The names of caves 15, 16, and 18 are Dhanagarha, Haridasa, Jagannath, and Rasui Gumpha.


The names of caves 1 and 2 are Tatowa Gumpha. Both of them have representations of two dwara palas, two lions, and two bulls at the entrance. Also visible are parrot images just above the cave’s arch.


Ananta Gumpha, Tentuli Gumpha, Khandagiri Gumpha, and Dhyana Gumpha are the names of caves 3 through 6. Navamuni Gumpha, or Cave 7, is home to magnificent sculptures of the nine Jain Tirthankaras and Sasana Devis. These carvings are thought to have been made in Kalinga during the Somavamshi Dynasty’s rule in the eleventh century.


Bharabhuji Gumpha is the name of Cave 8, which contains pictures of 25 Jain Tirthankaras on the walls of its chambers. The caverns known as Trusula Gumpha, Ambhika Gumpha, and Lalatendu Keshari Gumpha are numbered 9, 10, and 11, respectively. The names of caves 12, 13, and 15 are unknown.


Two serpents, whose likenesses are etched on the cave entrance, gave the name Ekadashi Gumpha to Cave 14. The cave is also known as Cave 14. Its wall features eye-catching representations of athletes, kids, women, bulls, lions, and other creatures.

Inscriptions Inside The Caves

The Hathi Gumpha inscriptions, which are thought to have been carved during the second century at King Kharavela’s command, are considered to be the most significant of the many inscriptions on the walls of these two twin caves. The caves of Mancapuri and Sarpa Gumpha also have other significant inscriptions.


While some of these inscriptions describe the king’s conversation with Alexander the Great, others depict King Kharavela’s love affair with his second wife. Since the Hathi Gumpha inscriptions incorporate symbols of the Jainism religion, which places a premium on truth, many people believe their contents to be accurate records of King Kharavela’s reign. The fact that the inscriptions begin with a greeting to the Arihantas (victors) and the Siddhas (pure souls) serves as more evidence for this. As a result, it is claimed that a king with his level of religious fervor could only have spoken the actual truth.


The inscriptions chronologically recount a number of historical occurrences from King Kharavela’s reign. The infamous Kalinga War, which is indelible in the history of Odisha, is mentioned in one of the caves’ most intriguing inscriptions. These inscriptions discuss the social, cultural, and religious circumstances that prevailed at the time as well as the political events that occurred during that time.


The inscriptions are written in Brahmi, which is a language related to Pali. The writing is in a poetic Kavya style. The ancient writings discovered in the renowned Hathi Gumpha depict Kharavela as a great monarch, conquest, cultural champion, and supporter of Jainism.


The inscriptions are written in Brahmi, which is a language related to Pali. The writing is in a poetic (Kavya) style. The ancient writings discovered in the renowned Hathi Gumpha depict Kharavela as a great monarch, conquest, cultural champion, and supporter of Jainism.

Entry fee and timings In The Cave

For Indian citizens and foreign visitors, the entrance charge to the twin caves is Rs 15, and Rs 200, respectively. The fee for using a video camera is Rs 25. The caves are open for tours from 8 am to 5 pm for the whole week. November to February is the ideal time to explore the caves because the weather is still pretty comfortable during this time.

Directions To Reach Khandagiri and Udaygiri Caves

On the outskirts of Bhubaneswar City are the Udayagiri and Khandagiri caves. To get here, tourists can easily use local transportation options including auto rickshaws, cabs, or buses. Around 6.5 miles separate this location from the Biju Patnaik International Airport. This journey is completed in around 15 minutes. Regular flights are offered to the Bhubaneswar airport from the country’s major cities.


On the other hand, the distance between the Udayagiri and Khandagiri caves and the Bhubaneswar Railway Station is 9.2 kilometers. By cab or auto rickshaw, the journey there takes about 20 minutes. This train station is one of the busiest in Eastern India because it regularly receives multiple trains from all across the nation.

Things To Follow while Visiting Udaygiri and Khandagiri Caves


  • This location has parking accessible.

  • Women should refrain from donning high-heeled and stiletto shoes.

  • Photography is permitted.

  • It is advised to bring drinking water and a hat or cap.

  • The best time to visit this location is in the morning to avoid crowds and the intense heat later in the day.


India’s cultural legacy includes the Udayagiri and Khandagiri caves in Bhubaneswar, Odisha. Visitors can get a sense of the Kalinga dynasty’s extensive history and architectural prowess by exploring the ancient rock-cut caverns. Not only are these caves a well-liked tourist attraction, but they are also an important source for academics, historians, and archaeologists. The exquisite sculptures and carvings in the caverns are evidence of the skilled craftsmanship of the artisans who created them. Anyone interested in ancient history, culture, or architecture must pay a visit to the Udayagiri and Khandagiri caves.