About Undavalli Caves: An Architectural Representation Of Diverse Religions
Undavalli Caves are carved out of a single sandstone cliff making it the unique feature of the place. This place has been developed along three different periods in our country as it represents the three popular religions in our country-Buddhism, Jainism, and Hinduism in its carvings.
Undavalli Caves History:
During the era of Buddhism, Undavalli caves were used as Buddhist monasteries i.e. as the rest house for monks. The faces of different merchants, whose features are similar to those in the Buddhist cave complex in the Western Ghats, are seen in the façade of the cave. These may be the rich merchants who had contributed to the development of the cave complex.
After the partial decline of Buddhism, these caves were utilized by Jain monks. Most of the structure has a resemblance with Guptas style architecture of Udayagiri and Khandagiri caves in Odisha, which were dug out during the reign of Jainism. We can also see the sculptures of Tirthankaras in the caves.
It was during the 5th century A.D, the Vishnu Kundina Kings introduced Hinduism in the caves. They dedicated the caves to the Trinity Power-Shiva, Brahma, and Vishnu, especially to Lord Vishnu. These were known to be one of the oldest cave temples with the sculptures of various deities seen in that region built around the 5th and 7th centuries.
The history of Undavalli caves is one that fuses aspects of Buddhism, Jainism, and Hinduism, we believe that the history of Undavalli is indeed something of interest for everyone.
Undavalli Caves Architecture:
The entrance of the caves is like an open garden with greenery spread all over and benches arranged for visitors to relax. The cave is four-storeyed and the structure of the cave becomes narrower as it goes up.
It was also believed that there are subterranean passages from the cave to Vijayawada Kanaka Durga Temple and Mangalagiri hill which were used by kings to move their soldiers without being noticed by the enemies. These were said to be closed by the government.
“NATURE BLENDED WITH HUMAN ART CAN MAKE WONDERS, ONE SUCH WONDER IS THE UNDAVALLI CAVES.”
Interpretation of each floor:
Ground floor: It has eight pillars and seven openings and looks like an unfinished pillared hall for monks to rest.
The exterior of the floor has the sculptures of the Sapta-Rishis and the fierce lions. The interior is a pillared hall with Trinity and other prominent Hindu deities.
The main attraction of the caves lies on this floor. It is the 20 feet long sculpture of reclining Vishnu on the serpents worshipped as Ananta Padmanabhan Swamy by Hindus. The deity is carved out of a single granite stone. It is surrounded by the sculptures of Rishis and the pillars have been carved with the gatekeepers of Vishnu- Jaya and Vijaya.
It represents an unfinished Triple Shrine. The view from this floor is one that you are likely to cherish.
As it is a hilly area, the availability of proper food sources is scarce, so you should take proper essentials like minimum food and water with you during the visit.
You must be careful while walking inside the cave as the way inside the cave complex is rocky and not a finely laid road.
Undavalli Caves can be visited any time between 9am and 5.30 pm.
Undavalli Caves have an entry fee of INR 25 for the Indian Nationals and INR 300 for foreigners. If you want to capture the scenic beauty or shoot some videos as memories, you have to pay an extra 25 Rupees.
Best time to visit Undavalli Caves:
As it is located in a humid region and it is an open place it is better to visit the cave complex either during the mornings or in the evenings. It is not advisable to stay in the afternoons as the sun will be scorching, especially in the summer.
The months from October to February provide a cool respite from the blazing sun, making it the ideal time to visit these caves.
Nearby places to visit:
Kanaka Durga Temple:
A famous temple located on the hills of Indrakeeladri. This temple is dedicated to Goddess Durga and represents the rich Dravidian architecture. A religious place to kindle your devotion.
It is an iconic bridge that connects Krishna and Guntur District. Prakasam Barrage offers a scenic view of the Krishna River that provides life and livelihood to the locals.
Sea islands are quite common. But has anyone ever heard of river island? Bhavani Island is one of the largest river islands sprawled across 50 hectares. It offers a spectacular view of the sunset and has got many recreational activities in store for you!
If you are a history buff then we have got the perfect place for you! This fort offers a captivating view of the valley. Be sure to buy the famed wooden toys, especially Kondapalli Dolls.
How to reach Undavalli Caves:
Undavalli Caves are located near the Guntur district and on the Penumaka Vijayawada road near Prakasam Barrage.
The place can be reached from Vijayawada, Amaravati, and Guntur. A water route till Prakasam Barrage can be taken but in the end, reaching Undavalli caves is only possible by road.
Available Road-Ways: Local buses, Special buses for tourists, Auto Rickshaws, Taxis.
The airport closest to Undavalli caves is the Vijayawada airport. Vijayawada airport lies at a distance of 30 kilometers. From the airport, you can take some kind of private transport or use a taxi. It is a 40-minute journey from the airport to Undavalli Caves via NH16.
The nearest railway station to Undavalli caves is the Vijayawada railway station, which is about 7 kilometers away, taking around 15 minutes to get from the station to the Undavalli Caves.
One can use a form of water transport such as a boat to get to Prakasam Barrage, which is about 5 kilometers and 10 minutes away from Undavalli caves.
There are many forms of local transport available such as autos and taxis. But one can also choose to travel by local or private bus from Guntur or Vijayawada to reach Undavalli Caves.
Not only the architecture of the place, but the scenery of the place is also excellent. The view of the Krishna river from the top of the cave is a scenic beauty. Upon visiting one can relish and appreciate the beauty of this monolithic cave complex.
We bring the scenic beauty through the lens of the photographers. The Undavalli Caves images were provided by Ms. Manushri, Mr. Bhagi and Mr. Subhranshu. The Srikakulamads team thanks them for their great contributions. You can also check out their Instagrams @manushri_udaykumar, @b_h_a_g_i_kbk, and @subhranshudash_photography respectively.