Four storied rock cut Hindu temple, Undavalli

Name of the Monument







Four storied rock cut hindu temple, Undavalli



Andhra Pradesh

7th century CE


Undavalli Hills is on the right bank of river Krishna opposite to the above group.  The rock-cut temples were dedicated to Hindu trinity; however the principal deity is Ananthasayi Vishnu.  The earliest phase is dated to early middle of seventh century CE on stylistic grounds.  Some of the label records, specially the Telugu label (Sri-Utpattipidugu) is important.  The later inscriptions of Reddy Chiefs of Kondavidu (14th century) and of the time of Sri Krishnadevaraya (16th century) speak of continued patronage and sanctity attached to caves for over several centuries.

            This excavation is multi-storeyed set-up with a frontage of nearly twenty eight meters in length and fifteen meters in height and oriented east-west and facing north towards river.  The upper three storeys are finished ones whereas the ground floor is a crude excavation, indicating that the excavation was done from top to bottom.

            The ground floor consists of a long hall on massive square pillars with paired inter-columniation dividing the front into seven openings of equal size.  The first storey has the largest hall, its plan reveals triple shrines excavated into rear wall, each distinct and fronted by a pillared mandapa, a facade on four massive pillars and two side pilasters, and entrances marked by balustrated steps and moonstone.  The central shrine is a larger one, its cornice contains a frieze of goose below and the prominent kudu arches over the kapota.  On the sidewalls of each shrine are figures in panels representing incarnations of Vishnu.  The pillars with taranga brackets closely recall the Pallava type.             The second storey on plan is again an imposing pillared hall, nine metres width and fifteen metres length divided into four bays (six pillars in each row with side pilasters) with a cut-in-cave of 4-metres square at the southern end and an oblong sanctuary along the northern wall accommodates the colossal image of Anantasayi Vishnu.  The imposing open terrace commanding the beautiful view of the river and the countryside has life size figures. The first three are sages in padmasana.  At the left, the stately figure of a king flanked by two prancing lions, all very much defaced.  In all likelihood the latter stands for the portrait of the royal patron. 

            The top most storey is again an unfinished example and has triple-celled shrine with a closed façade at three doorways of equal size and open terrace in the front. The prastara elevation over the first and second storeys are prominently marked with kudu arches and sala-sikhara decoration.  There exist several other smaller pillared mandapas with cut-in shrine cells, crudely carved relief sculptures, and shrine models (Dravidian ekatala vimanas) in bold relief with koshthas (niches) like the ones at Mahabalipuram.         

            This arrangement of shrine in three stories is similar to such excavations at Ellora.