Madhya Pradesh

Udayagiri Caves- A gift from Chandra Gupta-II
                                                                                   April,2017.

The Udayagiri Caves one of oldest series of rock-cut Hindu temples and images in India and dates to 375-415 AD. Situated on bank of river Bes, are not so well known among tourists but the people who visit Sanchi also always visit this place which is just 20 KM away. In my experience you can stay for a night or two at MPSTDC hotel at Udaygiri and enjoy the strolling, trekking and hiking with family in these jungles and then head for Sanchi. Best season will be rainy season. 

The Udaygiri caves have also been subject of research among scholars and was more attraction to me as Chandragupta-II (Gupta dynasty) had also visited this place. I think this is one of the few monuments remaining now which belongs to Gupta dynasty. Other notable are some sculputure in Ajanta Ellora, Sarnath, Rajgir, Elephanta, temple at Tigawa near Jabalpur, one small temple at Sanchi.

Our Itinerary

It was summer of 2017. Temperature of 40 degree and …….

Day 1: Morning 8 AM visited 14 Ujjain temples (8 hrs).
Day 2 : Visited Jantar mantar Ujjain, Bhrithari caves, Vetaal Sinhasan and Triveni museum. Stay at Udaygiri caves hotel of MPSTDC.
Day 3 : Visited Uday giri caves from 7.30 AM (2.5 hrs) and headed for Sanchi by Taxi (18 KM). Spent 2.5 hrs at Sanchi. Reached Bhopal by 8 PM.
Day 4 : Started for Bhimbetka 10 AM and on way Bhojpur temple. Came back to Bhopal by 7 PM.

Ujjain-Udaigiri caves-Sanchi-Bhopal-Bhojpur temple-Bhimbhetaka-Bhopal

List of main tourist places in Madhya Pradesh and Chhatishgarh

Though these states are having many places to visit but just listing here a few important ones listed by Madhya Pradesh Tourist Department.

MPSTDC Tourist map

Where to Stay

“Udaygiri Jungle Resort” is the MPSTDC hotel and is located about 16 KM from Vidisha Railway station. It is in jungle with all amenities and beautiful restaurant and cottages. You can book online on MPSTDC web site.

About the caves

There seems to be some confusions about the cave number as some caves though important are not numbered and instead given some names and some are numbered but without names.

ASI should sort out the issues like by numbering and naming all caves. Some caves were identified by names by my guide but it had only numbers. It is very confusing.

 

Cave 5

Cave 5

Cave 6 -Called Veena Gufa

Veena Gufa (Violin cave) based on a carving showing an image playing Violin. We know that Samudra gupta (father of Chandra Gupta) was known for playing violin.

Adjacent to Veena Gufa it is cave 6 called Sankanika cave as shown in figure there are figures of Dwarpals (door guards), God Narshimha and Mahisasur mardini.

Inside Veena-cave

Actually I did not see any numbering of the cave which has this icon. But it is just beside Cave 6. The statue has Lord Shiva type of hair style which is very different from other carvings in Udaygiri. Exceptional feminine beauty is on face of this icon with seven strands of hair falling from head and jewellary is shown.

Dedicated to Shiva linga. The story is about how Shiva broke the flow of river Ganga. There is water channel in plinth and floor.

Kumar Cave : Lord Kartikeya holding a stick

Beside Veena Gufa is a cave called Kumar  Cave. Just see that hairstyle of this icon is totally different than Veena Cave icon. This image is widely considered to be most beautiful image of 5th century

Cave 7

 

 

Cave 7

The flat roof on top of this cave so called Tawa cave (Saucepan).This cave is vacant now and some illegible inscriptions are still there which are in parts. Inscription reads that ChandraGupta II came here when on visit to Malwa. This cave was constructed by Veersen a scholar of this region.

Cave 11 Unknown

Cave 11 There is no description of this cave in ASI board but as per my guide it is icon of Lord Vishnu.

 

cave-12 narshimha-ke-rup-me-vishnu

 

Cave 13 -Sleeping Narayana (Vishnu)

This cave #13 contains the earliest and one of the largest releifs of Vishnu sleeping on
the coil of primeval snake (legend Sesh nag) with his head resting on palm of one of his four hands. He is
attended by his vehicle Garuna in animal form. The figure in front is portrayed kneeling in adoration to the god and the dwarf like figure behind him is probably that of his attendant. It has been argued that this figure is a depiction of Chandragupta II himself, symbolizing his devotion to Vishnu.

Lord Vishnu

Cave 19

Cave 19 – Amrit Cave

Also called Amrit cave as well known story of “Samudra manthan” is depicted on door lintel of this cave. We can see Meru mountain in center which is churning sea with the help of mythical snake , gods and demons.

Just go inside and see some inscriptions in Brahmi and ornated roof , inscriptions on the roof.

Actually a variety of languages are used in inscriptions which helps to find the age of the cave. As per inscription it seems one pilgrim named Kanha visited the cave in 1036-37 AD and reconstructed the Vishnu temple in Udaygiri. One inscription also referes name of Chandragupta Vikramaditya.

As soon as we enter from cave#14 side we see some inscriptions on rocky walls of the caves. As per guide these are called “Shankh Script” and are not yet deciphered.

Shankh Script- Shell Script

 

shell Script

 

Passage

It is a natural canyan of rocks and prevails throughout this area. As per guide and also visible that the design was such that  it looked like sea. There were modifications done in this canyon such that it also served as water cascade.

Groove shows that earlier the caves were covered and water type design to give it form of sea.

Nearby places

Heliodorus Pillar, Bija mandal

Epilogue

People who love history will know the importance of this place. This place on bank of river Bes is just 20 KM from Sanchi and one must visit. The 1600 years old caves are almost among two low hills and forests and will be memorable if you stay here for 1 night and 2 days and trek and hike around this place in rainy season.

खँड़हर! खड़े हो तुम आज भी?
अदभुत अज्ञात उस पुरातन के मलिन साज!
विस्मृति की नींद से जगाते हो क्यों हमें…
करुणाकर, करुणामय गीत सदा गाते हुए?
                          – Surya Kant Tripathi Nirala

Categories: Madhya Pradesh

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