The Undavalli Caves, a monolithic example of Indian rock-cut architecture and one of the finest testimonials to ancient viswakarma sthapathis, are located in Vijayawada of Guntur district in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. The caves are located south west of Vijayawada, 22 km north east of Guntur City of Andhra Pradesh. It is one of the centrally protected monuments of national importance.[1]

Undavalli Caves
The largest of the Undavalli Caves
Map showing the location of Undavalli Caves
Map showing the location of Undavalli Caves
Map showing the location of Undavalli Caves
Map showing the location of Undavalli Caves
LocationVijayawada ,Guntur District, Andhra Pradesh, India
Discovery420 - 620 AD

History Edit

These caves are carved in Gupta style of rock-cut Architecture which goes back to 4th-5th century CE. Most of emperor of Gupta's were Vaishnavas so we can see many sculpture of Narasimha, Vishnu and Ramayans stories. [2] They are associated with the Vishnukundina kings of 420-620 CE. These caves are dedicated to Anantha Padmanabha and Narashimha. Later Jain and Buddhist monks used these as rest houses.[3]

Chronology Edit

These caves were carved out of solid sandstone on a hillside in the 4th to 5th centuries CE.[4] There are several caves and the best known largest one has four stories with a huge recreated statue of Vishnu in a reclining posture, sculpted from a single block of granite inside the second floor. It was originally a Hindu cave resembling the architecture of Udayagiri and Khandagiri. It is estimated that these caves were sculpted sometime in 4-5th century CE during the reign of Vishnukundina kings[5] The main cave is one of the earliest examples of Gupta architecture, primarily primitive rock-cut monastery cells carved into the sandstone hills.[6] Initially, the caves were shaped as a Jain abode and the first-floor abode still retains the Jain style; the vihara exhibits Jain monastics and includes tirthankara sculptures. This first level of the cave is a carved vihara and includes Buddhist artwork.[7] The site served as the Bhikkhu monastic complex during ancient period.[8] The walls of the caves display sculptures carved by skilled craftsmen.

The caves are surrounded by green countryside. From the high hill above the cave overlooking the Krishna River many fine specimens of rock-cut architecture can be seen. These caves are part of Mangalagiri Tadepalle Municipal Corporation.

Architecture Edit

It is an Impressive Four storey rock cut temple with East facing facade of 29m long, 16m wide. There are variation in depth of each floor. The ground floor is an unfinished low pillared hall with 8 pillars and 7 door openings on façade. The first storey accommodates triple shrine at back, each with the pillared hall in front, originally dedicated to the Trinity (Siva, Vishnu, and Brahma).[9]

Sculptures on the walls represent Vaishnava deities. The second storey has a pillared rectangular shrine of Vishnu on a serpent. Sculptures of Shiva and Vaishnava and a few like the Vaishnava Alwars are sculptured later on. The top floor was unfinished with a Triple Shrine. Some of the sculptural specimens are attributed to Chalukyan period. It has 5 meter long statue of Vishnu in reclining position.[10] However, it may be difficult to conclude that the 5 meter long statue is lord Vishnu, because well accepted position of lord Vishnu are one side aligned, closed eyes, four hands, 5 head serpent with female god Shre Devi and Bhudevi. There is no such similarity. So it can be concluded that the statue may be 23rd or 17th tirthankara of jainism Parshvanatha. More particularly, the 8 head serpent in the cave leading to a new topic of research in the respective field.

Transport Edit

The only means of connectivity for the caves is by road. APSRTC operates bus services from Vijayawada, Guntur and Amaravathi to this location.[11] APCRDA runs Tourist Bus-cum-Boat services through Krishna River from Prakasam Barrage.[12]

See also Edit

Notes Edit

  1. ^ "Centrally Protected Monuments". Archeological Survey of India. Archived from the original on 26 June 2017. Retrieved 27 May 2017.
  2. ^ "Gupta Era Caves/Undavalli Caves". Retrieved 26 July 2020.
  3. ^ "Vijayawada-The place of Victory/Undavalli Caves". Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  4. ^ "Undavalli Caves". Retrieved 19 August 2006.
  5. ^ "Undavalli Caves". Retrieved 19 August 2006.
  6. ^ Thapar, Binda (2004). Introduction to Indian Architecture. Singapore: Periplus Editions. p. 10. ISBN 0-7946-0011-5.
  7. ^ An Official Website Of Guntur District Government Of Andhra Pradesh. "Undavalli Caves". Guntur District Government Of Andhra Pradesh. Retrieved 29 November 2013.
  8. ^ Tourism Department. "Undavalli Caves". Tourism Department, Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India. Retrieved 29 November 2013.
  9. ^ "ASI-Rock cut Cave Temple – Undavalli". Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  10. ^ "Vijayawada-The Place of Victory". Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  11. ^ "Tourist Services in Guntur Region". Archived from the original on 16 May 2015. Retrieved 6 October 2017.
  12. ^ "First tourist bus-cum-boat to be functional in a week". The Hindu. Retrieved 6 October 2017.

External links Edit

16°29′49″N 80°34′54″E / 16.49687°N 80.58178°E / 16.49687; 80.58178