Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves are partly natural and partly artificial caves of archaeological, historical and religious importance near the city of Bhubaneswar in Orissa, India. The caves are situated on two hills Udayagiri and Khandagiri, mentioned as Kumari Parvat in Hathigumpha Inscription and face each other across the road. They have a number of finely and ornately carved caves. It is believed that most of these caves were carved out huge residential blocks for the Jain monks, during the reign of King Kharavela. Udayagiri meaning Sunrise Hill, has 18 caves while Khandagiri has 15 caves.
The caves of Udayagiri and Khandagiri, called lena or leṇa in the inscriptions, were dug out mostly during the reign of Kharavela for the abode of Jaina ascetics. The most important of this group is Ranigumpha in Udayagiri which is a double storeyed monastery.
The Famous Caves:
In Udayagiri, Hathigumpha (cave 14) and Ganeshagumpha (cave 10) are especially well known due to art treasures of their sculptures and reliefs as well as due to their historical importance. Rani ka Naur (Queen's Palace cave, cave 1) is also an extensively carved cave and elaborately embellished with sculptural friezes. Khandagiri offers a fine view back over Bhubaneswar from its summit. The Ananta cave (cave 3) depicts carved figures of women, elephants, athletes, and geese carrying flowers.
Inscriptions in Caves in Brahmi:
The Hathigumpha cave ("Elephant Cave") has Hathigumpha inscription, written by Raja Kharavela, the king of Kalinga in India, during the 2nd century BCE. Hathigumpha inscription consists of seventeen lines incised in deep cut Brahmi letters on the overhanging brow of a natural cavern Hathigumpha in the southern side of the Udayagiri hill. It faces straight towards the rock Edicts of Asoka at Dhauli situated at a distance of about six miles.