The twin hills of Kumargiri are known as Khandagiri and Udaygiri. The ancient caves of Udaigiri and Khandgiri are considered consecrate as this was the place where Lord Mahavira addressed the people of the area. On these hills are archaeologically significant 113 caves, which are nearly 2300 years old. These rock-cut caves were built for the Jain monks around 1st – 2nd century B.C. The Khandgiri hill is about 40 meters high and the Udaygiri hill is about 35 meters high.
At the apex of Khandagiri hill stands the 19th century “Parsvanath” temple. An idol of Bhagawan Adishvar in the Padmasana posture is the main attraction of this temple. The thirteen years lithic record of King Kharavela engraved in Hati Gumpha near Udaigiri is a magnificent specimen of Pali records so far found in India.
Major Tourist Attractions in Udaigiri & Khandgiri
The caves on the Khandagiri, can be reached either by the walking from the road, or cutting directly across from Hathi Gumpha via steps that drop down from cave 17. The latter route brings you out at caves 1 and 2, known as the “Parrot Caves” for the carvings of birds on their doorway-arches. Cave 2, excavated in the first century BC, is the larger and more interesting. One can find some faint lines in Brahmini script in one of the caves, which are supposed to be 2000 years old.
The Ananta Gumpha or Snake Cave has a decoration in the shape of a serpent at the entrance. It contains the best of the sculpture on Khandagiri hill. The best place to wind up a visit to Khandagiri is the modern Jain Temple at the top of the hill. Apart from some old Tirthankars in the shrine room, the building itself was erected during the 19th century on the site of a much earlier structure.