Andhra Pradesh & Telengana · Travel

Photoessay: Undavalli caves, Vijayawada: splendid rock cut architecture

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 centre.  It is also an important Buddhist site just like the others sites in the state.

Undavalli caves, Vijayawada

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.

Another shot of the famous Undavalli caves in Vijayawada
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’.

Carvings within the Undavalli caves
Carvings within the Undavalli caves

Other carvings in Undavalli caves
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.

Lord Vishnu in the form of Anantapadmanabha at Undavalli Caves
Lord Vishnu in the form of Anantapadmanabha at Undavalli Caves

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

A carving of Lord Ganesha in Undavalli Caves
A carving of Lord Ganesha in Undavalli Caves
Other Hindu deities in Undavalli Caves
Other Hindu deities in Undavalli Caves

Carving of Lord Hanuman at Undavalli caves
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.

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

6 thoughts on “Photoessay: Undavalli caves, Vijayawada: splendid rock cut architecture

  1. This temple seems to be the one of its kind, and it is hard to find such beautiful architecture anywhere. Thanks for sharing!

  2. All these temples and great heritage works have happened centuries before …….i feel kings did a great job then post independence politicians….. nice article

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.