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Prathik Desai

Feb 10, 2019

Undavalli Caves

Torchbearer of the rich historic archaeology in Vijayawada

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These caves could be termed more of a temple structure rather than mere caves. That is because the initial construction of the structure happened during the 6th – 7th century AD. The whole temple was intended to be a four-storeyed structure cut from a rock. However, a lot of its parts remained unfinished.

 

Innumerous Sculptures and Murals stand as the epitome of sheer beauty

There are numerous sculptures on the first floor which represent the Hindu mythological stories. These sculptures along with a few frescoes were put up there since 7th - 8th century AD.

In the image on the below, one can see Lord Hanuman.

Undavalli Caves were started as Buddhist temples. For a while, they were used by Buddhist monks and they have preserved some Buddhist statues up to this day.

Later, though, caves were taken over by Hindus and major part of artwork we see here today is related to Hindu religion.

A beautiful hotchpotch of religions

One of the most fascinating facts about this place is that the caves don’t exclusively belong to one particular religion. It has served as a spiritual centre for three different religions at three different times.

These Tirthankaras and Viharas in the picture represent the Buddhist culture.

In the second floor of this structure, there is a dedicated temple which was built exclusively for Anantasayana Vishnu, which translates to the sleeping posture of Lord Vishnu as per the Hindu mythology. Yet another fascinating thing about this reclining posture of Lord Vishnu is that the entire statue was sculpted out of a single block of granite.

 

Hence, this structure also serves as an example as to how the Buddhist artefacts were, over a period of time, converted to form a part of the Hindu temple.

Well, all this does teach us a thing or two about tolerance and remaining secular in the so-called secular country that we’ve been living in, doesn’t it?!

Frescoes and Engravings that bring the entire spirit of diversity

The walkway and facade of the third floor are designed with a lot of sculptures and frescoes. The façade has got the sculptures of elephants and lions, representing the Hindu mythology.

 

This place, all in all, is a perfect blend of various religions safeguarded in a huge rock-cut monolithic structure thus reflecting the richness of the Indian architecture in historic times.