Undavalli Caves are the marvellous example of Indian rock-cut architecture. It is one of the finest examples to ancient architecture of Vishwakarma Sthapathyashastra. It is located at Undavalli village in Tadepalli Mandal of Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh.
These caves look like an ancient fort from far. These caves are believed to be created between 4th and 5th century under the reign of Vishnukundina dynasty who were Buddhists. Therefore, the caves were firstly developed as per the Buddhist art and architecture. The Buddhist statues which still exist in the cave is the perfect evidence of Buddhist Era here. The first floor exhibits the caves carved by the Buddhist Kings.
The caves then came under the regime of Jain Kings from 6th to 8th century. Initially, the caves were shaped as a holy abode for Jain ascetics. The first floor of the cave still manifests Jain style of architecture as the Vihara manifests the Jain monastic and sculptures of Tirthankaras. The Jain cave is influenced by Udayagiri and Khandgiri schools of architecture. This site also serves as Bhikkhu monastic hub during ancient times.
After the end of the reign of Jain Kings, these caves were developed by Hindu Kings who ruled over this area over the centuries. Hence, the three floors except the first floor exhibits sculpture and art related to Hindu religion. Main caves exhibits Gupta Architecture as well as the Chalukyan Architecture.
Structure of the Caves
Undavalli Caves has four floors. The first floor is colossal than the second with each of the following floors diminishing successively from the elevation which is 29 metres in width. The first floor consists of huge 10-12 square columns with 8-9 openings in between them. The floor plan and the style of sculptures on the first floor show that this site was once a Buddhist monastery. Behind these there are three temples for dedicated to holy “Trimuti” of Hindu religion namely Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva. There is a hall with pillars in front of each of the three temples. The inscriptions and the sculptures on the walls of the first floor depict the scenes from Hindu mythology and are believed to have been created between 7th and 8th century.
The main attraction of this whole cave complex is located on the second floor. It boasts a huge statue of Lord Krishna in reclining posture. The statue of Lord is said to be carved out from a single block of granite. The Adi-Shesha serpent holds its thousand hoods like an umbrella over the head of the Lord Vishnu.
The third and fouth floor of the caves also contains many sculptures depicting wild animals such as lions, elephants and horses. There is also a statue of Narada and Thumbura on the third floor. The caves also have shrines dedicated to Lord Ananthapadmanabha Swamy and Lord Narasimha Swamy.