Destinations Magazine

Photoessay: Undavalli Caves, Vijayawada: Splendid Rock Cut Architecture

By Rashmi Gopal Rao

The bustling city of Vijayawada offers several interesting sights spanning nature, history, religion and culture.  Arguably one of the best attractions of this city are the Undavalli caves located 6 km from the city center.  It is also an important Buddhist site just like the others sites in the state.

Photoessay: Undavalli caves, Vijayawada: splendid rock cut architecture

The caves are one of the finest examples of rock cut architecture and these sandstone caves are believed to have been built around the 4th or 5th century.

Photoessay: Undavalli caves, Vijayawada: splendid rock cut architecture
Another shot of the famous Undavalli caves in Vijayawada

The caves are a perfect example of the conversion of Budhhist stupas to Hindu temples.  It is believed that the caves were used as rest houses by Buddhist monks.  There are several sculptures and figurines associated with Buddhism on the first floor whose design and structure also resembles a Buddhist monastery or ‘vihara’.

Photoessay: Undavalli caves, Vijayawada: splendid rock cut architecture
Carvings within the Undavalli caves

Photoessay: Undavalli caves, Vijayawada: splendid rock cut architecture

Photoessay: Undavalli caves, Vijayawada: splendid rock cut architecture
Other carvings in Undavalli caves

The caves were reportedly converted to a Hindu temple replete with Hindu shrines after the decline of Buddhism close to the 15th century.  The main shrine of the temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu in the form of Anantapadmanabha, which is in a reclining position.

Photoessay: Undavalli caves, Vijayawada: splendid rock cut architecture
Lord Vishnu in the form of Anantapadmanabha at Undavalli Caves

Photoessay: Undavalli caves, Vijayawada: splendid rock cut architecture

There are several shrines, carvings and sculptures of Hindu Gods and Goddesses in the caves.

Photoessay: Undavalli caves, Vijayawada: splendid rock cut architecture
A carving of Lord Ganesha in Undavalli Caves
Photoessay: Undavalli caves, Vijayawada: splendid rock cut architecture
Other Hindu deities in Undavalli Caves

Photoessay: Undavalli caves, Vijayawada: splendid rock cut architecture

Photoessay: Undavalli caves, Vijayawada: splendid rock cut architecture
Carving of Lord Hanuman at Undavalli caves

The structure of the cave temple has an influence of multiple schools of architecture including the Jain as well as the Gupta schools.

Photoessay: Undavalli caves, Vijayawada: splendid rock cut architecture

To read more offbeat attractions of Andhra Pradesh, click here and here.


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