Udayagiri Caves near Sanchi

[Day 7 we spent on a very tiring journey from Lonavala to Bhopal. The plane got late and the hotel we had booked was full, so we had to find an alternative.]

Day 8: We got a train from the main railway station in Bhopal and arrived at the Mahābodhi Society in Sanchi around 9.30am. We needed to eat and rest, and afterwards decided that as we had missed the whole morning session at Sanchi we would wait till the morrow to enter.

In the afternoon we went to see the Udayagiri caves near Vidisha are around 14km (depending on route) from Sanchi, and we travelled there in a 3-wheeler, which was a nice ride through the fertile countryside. Although cave temples are mainly associated with Buddhism, in the later period Jainas and Hindus took to the idea also, but with a significant difference: their monastics do not seem to have lived in the caves; and in the case of Hindus, the caves were only used for shrines to the gods.

The Udayagiri caves are best known for their Jaina cave (no. 20), but when we visited the cave was closed because of the danger of collapse in the cave. The other caves, which were Hindu, we managed to photograph. They contained reliefs of the mythic stories of the gods, and also shrines for various gods, particularly a large relief of the Varāha story in which Vishnu rescues the earth goddess Bhūdevī.

There were many other caves, spread over two hills which are around 1km from each other, and we spent a good couple of hours at the site, which had no other visitors. Mainly the site was well looked after, and was quite clean, and had only a little graffiti. There was no charge to go in, but we tipped the caretaker for showing us round, and explaining many of the sights.

Udayagiri Caves



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