THE APSIDAL STRUCTURE OF CAVES IN ORISSA

Know your location
» East India
» Orissa
Location : 6-km from Bhubaneswar Railway Station, District Puri, Orissa
Locally Known As : Gumpha
Famous As : A Jain Pilgrimage Centre
Architectural Style : Rock-cut Architecture

THE APSIDAL STRUCTURE
Proceeding to the top of the hill by a pathway to the right, the visitor will reach the ruins of an apsidal structure exposed in 1958.

The Circular Wall
The ruins consist of an apsidal structure built of laterite slabs within, which towards the apse-end is a circular wall. Partly below the latter are remnants of an earlier oblong structure. Large patches of laterite pavement exist within the apsidal structure.

The outer edges of some of the stones of the circular wall rest on this paving, which, however, is not traceable within the circular wall. The oblong space in front of the circular wall is enclosed by walls, raised on the paved surface within the framework of the apsidal structure, to form an oblong chamber. In the middle of the three walls of this chamber is an opening, presumably for doors.

As the circular wall had been reduced to a single course when excavated, it is difficult to determine its exact nature and use. However, the plan of the entire complex is so similar to the Buddhist chaitya-grihas with their apse, nave and side-aisles that it is very likely that the circular wall formed the sanctum or apse and the oblong chamber the hall or nave. On the same analogy, the space between their outer walls and inner edge of the outer apsidal wall could have been used as circumambulatory side-aisles.

In the northern corner of the apsidal wall is a rock-cut drain, to take off water from the circular structure. There are several post-poles at fairly regular intervals in the bed-rock around the outer wall of the apsidal structure. Towards the base of the apsidal wall are two arc-like buttress-walls built of three rows of laterite blocks placed on edge and supporting one another. They were presumably intended to sustain the deep depression filling and its overlying flag-stones below the corner walls of the oblong wall.

The complex of structures was no doubt a Jain religious edifice and provided the monks residing in the caves with the place of worship.

It may be significant that just below the structure, on the ledge of the rock, occurs Cave-14 (Hathi-gumpha), containing the inscription of Kharavela, wherein, among other things, he recounted his activities on the hill, including the excavation of caves and construction of a certain stone edifice on the pragbhara of the hill.



Booking Information/Reservation