Discovering the Mysteries of Udayagiri Caves in MP

Cave number 5 with Vishnu avatar of Varaha

Madhya Pradesh offers a myriad of ancient historical sites that showcase Indian art and marvelous architecture. Udayagiri Caves is one such gem that holds historical significance and dates back to the Gupta period. Here is all about the lesser-known and offbeat Udayagiri Rock Cut Caves.

Welcome to Udayagiri Caves in MP
Explore the rock cut caves with us

History of Udayagiri Caves

Also known as Udaigiri, the Udayagiri Caves are a cluster of 20 rock-cut caves near Vidisha in Madhya Pradesh. Chandragupta II built them between the early 3rd and 5th centuries AD, often known as the Gupta Period.

Ganesha sculpture in Udayagiri Caves
An ode to Lord Ganesha

During this period, these caves served as sacred sanctuaries for Jain and Hindu ascetics, who sought solace and spiritual enlightenment within their chambers. The site is devoted to Lord Vishnu, Shiva, and Jain Tirthankaras, much evident from the iconography and the sculptures.  

Excavation and Preservation

The well maintained premises of Udaigiri caves MP
The well preserved and maintained premises of Udayagiri Caves

The discovery of the Udayagiri Caves in the 19th century sparked a wave of archaeological interest and excavation efforts. The Caves were first studied and reported by Alexander Cunningham in the 1870s. Later, led by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), these excavations aimed to unearth the secrets hidden within the rock-cut chambers. Further, the goal was to preserve the site’s historical and cultural significance for future generations. Through meticulous preservation efforts, the ASI has ensured that the architectural marvels of Udayagiri remain intact for visitors to immerse themselves in the splendor of ancient Indian history.

Exploring Udayagiri Caves

What to See

Exploring Udayagiri Caves premises
Exploring at our pace

At Udayagiri Caves we witnessed a mesmerizing array of architectural wonders and artistic masterpieces. The caves have 20 rock-cut chambers, each offering a unique glimpse into India’s rich cultural tapestry. They are interconnected by pathways which allows travelers to navigate the site seamlessly and explore its hidden treasures.

Udaigiri rock-cut caves bear witness to the cultural and religious diversity of ancient India. The intricate carvings and sculptures adorning their walls depict scenes from Hindu mythology and Jain philosophy.

To begin with, a prominent figure in the cave site is the man-boar avatar (Varaha) of Vishnu in Cave no. 5.

Cave number 5 in Udayagiri Caves
The Varaha avatar of Vishnu in Cave number 5

Right next to Cave 5 lies Cave No.6 housing the sculpture of seated Ganesha. The entrance of this cave is flanked by sculptures of Maa Durga, Vishnu, Gangadhara, and Shiva.  

Cave number 6 in Udayagiri Rock Cut Caves
Cave. No 6

Going further lies Cave no. 8. Interestingly, it was named Tawa Cave due to the resemblance of the cave’s crown with a Tawa. The dome-shaped rock measures 14 feet long and 12 feet broad. The entrance of the cave has damaged figures of dvarpalas (guards).

The Tawa Cave in Udaigiri MP
Cave Number 8 also called Tawa Cave

Another notable highlight is the statue of reclining Vishnu in cave no. 13. The rock cut image of the lord is seen resting on a coil of Sheshnaag. Vishnu is attended by his vehicle Garuda the bird. Besides, it is said that this is one of the earliest and among the largest images of reclining Vishnu.

Reclining Vishnu statue in Udayagiri caves
Statue of Narayan in resting pose

Hiking beyond the caves

After the cave no.13, the caves have fewer number of statues. There are stone inscriptions and carved rocks throughout the premises. If you keep hiking further, you can view the surrounding village and beautifully preserved stone structures. Very few people choose to hike to the summit, which makes the peaks secluded. To be honest it gives the summit an eerie feeling.

Hiking towards the summit in Udayagiri Rock cut caves
Hiking towards the summit

FAQs for Udayagiri Caves answered

How much time can one spend in Udaygairi Caves?

To appreciate the beauty and historical significance of Udayagiri Caves, we recommend allocating at least 2-3 hours for exploration.

Suggest the best time to visit Udayagiri Caves.

We recommend you visit the site in the morning or evening when the sun is mild. Late morning or afternoon time can be uncomfortably hot.

What is the entry fee for Udayagiri Caves MP?

The entry fee in Udayagiri is Rs 25 for Indians and Rs 300 for foreign nationals as of January 2024. However, no extra fee is charged for photography.

Udaygiri Caves Entry fee
How far is Sanchi from Udayagiri?

The distance between Udayagiri Caves and Sanchi is only 9.6 km (5.9 miles)

What is the distance from Bhopal to Udayagiri Caves?

Bhopal to Udayagiri Caves road distance is 61 km (38 miles) only.

Is there a dress code for the cave site?

No, there is no dress code for Udayagiri Caves. Dress up in light cotton or breathable fabric to beat the heat. Wear comfortable and sturdy shoes. Since you would hike and walk a lot here ditch your fancy heels.

Is Udayagiri wheelchair friendly?

Udayagiri is a rugged cave site with rocky pathways and stone structures in natural form. The premise is not wheelchair friendly.

Does the Udayagiri Cave site have drinking water facility?

There is no provision for drinking water inside the premises. So carry enough water with you. The parking facility opposite the cave site has free drinking water installation from where you can refill your bottle.

Are eatables allowed in the cave premises?

Yes, you can carry eatables with you. However, if you choose to do so, please do not leave trash there. Sadly, the site already has a lot of trash dumped there.

Exploring an offbeat site of MP
Creating unforgettable memories

Plan Your Visit to Udayagiri

Best Season to Visit

Madhya Pradesh gets extremely hot in summer. Hence it is best to visit Udayagiri Caves from October to March. The weather then is mild and pleasant, making it ideal for exploring the ancient caves and hillock summit. Nonetheless, it was hot when we visited in January end. 

Accommodation in Udaigiri

There are a few hotels in Udayagiri. We stayed in MPT Jungle Resort under MP Tourism Hotels. The property is in the middle of the forest and behind Udayagiri Caves. Moreover, surrounded by lush green nature and sustainable elements, it was a surreal experience for us. You can also look for other mid-budget hotels in Sanchi or Vidisha.

How to Reach Udayagiri Caves

By Road

Udayagiri Caves are conveniently located near Vidisha. The town is well-connected by road to major cities of Madhya Pradesh and neighboring states. Udayagiri is also 10 km from Sanchi, 61 km from Bhopal, . You can hire a taxi or use public transport to reach the caves. Nothing’s better than self-driving.

By Rail

The nearest railway station to Udayagiri Caves is Vidisha Railway Station, approximately 4 km away. Further from the railway station, you can hire taxis or auto-rickshaws to reach the caves conveniently. Trains connecting nearby stations of Khajuraho, Gwalior, or Orchha with Vidisha Railway station can help you plan a long vacation by clubbing these places.

By Air

If you are traveling by air, the nearest airport to Udayagiri Caves is Raja Bhoj Airport in Bhopal, located approximately 60 km away. Moreover, Raja Bhoj Airport offers domestic flights to major cities across India, providing easy access to the region.

Why should you visit Udaigiri Caves?

The Udayagiri Rock-Cut Caves are a timeless testament to India’s rich cultural heritage and architectural ingenuity. From their ancient origins to their meticulous preservation, these caves offer a fascinating glimpse into the spiritual and artistic pursuits of ancient civilizations. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, an art lover, or a spiritual seeker, Udayagiri Caves promises an enriching and unforgettable experience. You can also consider visiting Bhimbhetka Rock Shelters, a protected UNESCO heritage site in Raisen district 108 km away.