Udayagiri caves: Untraveled drive way to splendid caves
Either it was my excursion to spirituality or it is a trip to find my questions. But one thing is certain, I was exploring the repository of ancient history. The history which is more rich in culture and tradition. In my previous post Sanchi: Buddhist paradise, I’ve revealed how beautifully the splendors of Buddha are shown by Great Emperor Ashoka. Also, I’ve shown you how magnificently these remains of Buddha’s are presented by the Archaeological department of India. Moreover, I’ve shared many photographs with you. But one more thing was there, my life was going through many ups and downs and that’s why I needed one such spiritual trip.
However, talking about Sanchi, it seemed to me that even if it is UNESCO world heritage site, it experience less footfall as compared to other Buddhist destinations. However, besides Sanchi there was one more destination which was hiding from me. It was Udayagiri hills – just few km from Sanchi in Vidisha district. Udayagiri hills have something which is quite rough and tough and it too seemed to be a road less-traveled. But before revealing it, I want to share a museum present in Sanchi which has a great archaeological significance in Indian history…
Gothic style Bungalow:
Sir John Marshall, former Director general of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) had excavated and re-established Sanchi in 1919. That’s why his exhibits are present in the bungalow. Actually, the bungalow is dedicated to Sir John. Hence, the shape and structure of bungalow resembles the Gothic style architecture. The bungalow is situated on the hill top. Its premises has gardens all around and on the one side of garden there is Archaeological museum. Inside the museum also the work of Sir John is kept.
Just few steps from Sir John Marshall Bungalow, there is an Archaeological Museum dedicated to Both Buddha and great Emperor Ashoka. I think it is the finest museum I know which has the finest collection of different sculptures. So as you enter into the museum, the only word which came out of you is WOW… The reason behind it is: the main center of attraction “Ashoka Pillar 10. (lions on lotus)”. This masterpiece has 4 loins side by side on lotus, made in 3rd century BC.
By the way, the ambiance of museum hall is yellowish with fully air-conditioned galleries. Another thing is, there are variety of sculptures artifacts all around the galleries and hall. You can have a glimpse of museum….
The museum is certainly a must visit site along with the bungalow of Sir John. Entry fees to the museum is included with Sanchi stupas ticket, i.e. just Rs.20/- for nationals and Rs. 200/- for foreigners.
While I was visiting Sanchi, I made a call to my uncle. As he also love traveling, I just wanted him to come along with us and trip Udayagiri. Since he was at Bhopal (40km from Sanchi), he was able to reached there within 1.5 hrs. Therefore, after my visit to this comprehensive museum, I directly headed to Udayagiri hills.
Just 20 min drive way from Sanchi stupa, there is a land which reflects our glorious past. On the cross-roads of Vidisha city, there are caves or I can say galleries connecting many caves. These caves contains or I can say preserved some of the oldest sculptures of Hindu. Being situated on the dry and dusty hills, these caves can be said to be an untraveled road or less traveled destination. Therefore, I can say that these Udayagiri caves are the example of unspoiled nature. Actually there are 20 excavated caves showing the series of figures personifying Hindu gods and Buddha.
Some of the caves are dedicated to Jainism. When you visit these caves, some caves are quite close to each other while for some caves you have to trek the mountain. In order to see all 20 caves, you have walk around 2 hills over the distance of around 2 km between caves. All of the above, as I was off there during summer days, the temperature around these caves remained few degrees less throughout the year. May be because of untouched surrounding.
Literally speaking the meaning of Udayagiri is: “udaya” means sunrise and “giri” means mountain. Hence, it is known as “Mountains of sunrise”. These Udayagiri caves are established by Chandragupta II (Gupta dynasty), between 3rd-4th century. Udayagiri is also known as Vishnugiri (hills with Vishnu footprints). It is also said that these caves represents the simplicity of expression, incarnations and the unmatched designs of caves. Most noteworthy is that these hills are handles by Archaeological department of India. However, I found that these caves were not so managed or maintained.
The most eye-catching sites are those with rock-cut Vahra Avtar of Lord Vishnu (Incarnation of Lord Vishnu); Carved Shiva Linga (Lord Shiva) face; the highest point cave with Buddha standing in temple (monastery) etc. Unlike many of the caves, some of these were closed. Probably due to the fact of deterioration, these remain closed. The most significant site among them was the one with Anant Shayya position of Lord Vishnu (sleeping position). However, it was locked inside the grills. Also, on some of the pillars you will find Devanagari lipi (script) and other scripts written. Have a look at the caves…
Caves No. 1 to 6:
Vahra Avtar, incarnation of Lord Vishnu is the center of attraction of these caves…
Magnificent Anant Shayya position of Lord Vishnu:
I was quite fascinated with this tree. It’s roots and stems are in the shape of ghost. People says that in night the site becomes scary when they look at the tree.
Buddhist cave on the top of the hill:
Serene caves with Shiv Linga presence:
Finally I can say that these Udayagiri caves are real fun for travelers. From getting the knowledge about India’s one of the oldest dynasty to getting lost in the spiritual surrounding. Hence, it is certainly a must-visit place. Even there is no entry fees to visit these caves…..