After Dhauli hill our guide told that the next stop would be at Lingaraj temple, Bhubaneswar, which is located 8 kms. from Dhauli. The Lingaraj temple at Bhubaneswar dates from the 11th Century A.D. It is one of the grandest and loftiest (147 ft. high) temples in eastern India. The construction of the temple is similar to Lord Jagannath temple in Puri. It has 64 secondary temples clustered around the central pine. Lingaraj, the God in the temple is represented by a LINGA, a natural black stone, 8 ft, in diameter. Such a representation of Lingaraj is called Swayambhu, a natural Linga. The gate is guarded by two stone lions and capped by a pyramidal roof. It was Yayati Keshari, the king of Keshari Dynasty, who laid foundation of the Lingaraj Temple. His great grandson, Lalatendu Keshari completed its work. The sculptures in the temple depicting Kings and their Queens, Royal Court, dancing girls, hunters, cultivators, musicians playing on musical instruments, males and females clad in fine attire are beautifully chiseled on stone. Here also camera and cell phones are not allowed inside the temple. So I could take the pictures only from outside:
For more photos of Lingaraj Temple, click here
Then, we moved to our next spot Udaygiri and Khandagiri caves, which are situated at a distance of around 6 km from Bhubaneswar. Udayagiri and Khandagiri caves are rock cut caves excavated in two adjacent hills that rise abruptly from vast expanse of barren land. Both the hills stand separated only by a narrow road. Udayagiri hill, which is 135 feet tall, was earlier called Kumari Parvata whereas 118 feet high Khandagiri hill was known as Kumara Parvata. Udayagiri Hills, which means Sunrise Hills. You will find caves at different levels of the hill. There are 18 caves in Udayagiri starting from the base of the hill itself. All the caves are numbered and many of them are also named.
We found many friendly monkeys over there. If you wish you could buy some nuts and feed the monkeys and they will come quite close. Check out this one having a small baby:
The carvings on the wall generally depict scenes of celebration on king’s victorious return. There are religious carvings as well as scenes from the royal courts. Jain symbols are also found at many parts. The figures on the wall clearly show that they were once the worship halls for Jain monks. The main and the most attractive caves is situated at the base itself. Named as Rani Gumpha, it is one of the few double storied caves in these hills. Rani Gumpha or Queen Cave is the largest cave and has gone under extensive repair work. Other interesting cave is Bagh Gumpha and Hathi Gumpha. The entrance to the Bagh Gumpha is carved in the shape of a tiger’s open mouth and is visually quite splendid. Though Hathi Gumpha is not as appealing as others but it has great importance historically. A 17 line Brahmi inscription tells us about the expeditions and victories of King Kharavela.
Khandagiri hill houses 15 caves of which Ananta Cave is the most impressive one. Along with the caves, there are a couple of Jain Temples as well. Even these caves are numbered with few are being named. One thing to notice is that most of the caves are named based on the carvings on the walls of the caves. Like Cave 1 and 2 are named Tatowa Cave, as there are carvings of two parrots on the door arches. The caves have figures as well inscriptions on the walls. Then comes the main Ananta Gumpha. The cave is named after carvings of two serpents on the entrance. To save the cave from falling, there have been few additions done as a part of restoration work. The carvings on the walls of the cave depict figures of women and children, athletes, lions, bulls and many other animals. The carvings are different in all the caves. Carvings and structure of some caves tells us that they were once used as dormitories for Jain ascetics. Due to lack of time we were not able to check the Khandagiri caves, I could only took this shot of Khandagiri hill from the top of Udaygiri hill:
For more photos of Udaygiri Caves, click here