A monolithic example of Indian rock-cut architecture, the Undavalli Caves are located in the city of Guntur, Andhra Pradesh. Carved out of a solid sandstone on a hillside, these caves date back to the 4th to 5th centuries and is a paradise for history lovers. One of the preserved monuments of national importance, this attraction was originally the Jain caves and was later converted into a Hindu temple.
Regarded as one of the earliest examples of Gupta architecture, the Undavalli Caves leave one in amazement and awe because of its marvellous design. From the outside, it looks like rows of cells arranged in different positions which arouse curiosity. There are three levels in the cave. The lower level resembles the Jain abode with many chambers and Thirthankara Sculptures. The second level has as the statue of reclining God whose identity cannot be found out. However, locale believes the statue is of Lord Vishnu. The sculptures of lions and elephants on the walls add to the beauty of the attraction. When you reach the top of the cave, you get a breath-taking view of the lush green surroundings and hills. You can also see the Krishna River flowing behind the caves. Tourists can even take the boat ride on the river enjoying the natural beauty. A perfect blend of architectural marvel and historical significance, you should add Undavalli Caves to your bucket list because it will swoon you with its charm and grandeur.
History of Undavalli Caves
These four-storey caves are said to be found in the 7th century. They are associated with the Vishnukundin Kings of AD 420- AD 620. These exotic caves of Undavalli were dedicated to the Anantapadmanabha and Narisimhaswami. As per the historical evidence, Madhava Reddy, who ruled this region as the subordinate under the Reddies of Kondaveedu, gifted the caves to the temple of Anantha Swamy. It is also believed that these caves were used by the Buddhist monks as the rest houses. Undavalli Caves show that many Buddhist stupas were converted into Hindu temples. It was initially a Jain cave with an architecture of Udayagiri and Khandgiri. The first floor still retains the Jain style.
Architecture of Undavalli Caves
The caves of Undavalli provides the finest example of the rock-cut architecture of the Buddhists in India. The caves are 29 metres long and 16 metres wide. Each floor has different heights. The first floor is a low-pillared hall with eight pillars and seven door openings. The first storey has shrines dedicated Trimurti- Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma, each with a pillared hall in the front.
Walls on the first floor are adorned with frescoes depicting scenes from mythological stories. The second storey has a rectangular pillared hall with a shrine of Lord Vishnu. This statue is a major attraction as it is made out of the single granite block. On the walls, sculptures from the Chalukyan period and of Vaishnava deities can be seen. The most striking feature of the Undavalli cave is the 5 meters long statue of the Lord Buddha in the reclining position.
Best Time To Visit Undavalli Caves
The ideal time to visit Undavalli Caves is during winters as the temperature is cool and pleasant. October to February is the best time to explore the place when the mercury lingers around 30 degrees Celsius. Summers are unbearably hot in Vijayawada. The temperature soars up to 40 degrees which gets too uncomfortable. During monsoons, torrential rainfall can interrupt your outdoor plans. Therefore, it is better to avoid this season.
How To Reach Undavalli Caves
Undavalli Caves is on the Penumaka-Vijayawada road, near Prakasam Barrage, Guntur, Andhra Pradesh. It is well-connected via road network with all the major cities of the state as well as the neighbouring states. Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC) and some private travel services connect Undavalli cave with all other foremost cities of the state as well as the neighbouring states. Once you reach Vijayawada, taxis, autorickshaws or the local buses are the best options to reach the attraction.