Hathigumpha Inscription: Kharavela of Chedi Dynasty [100% UPSC]

In this article, we will learn about the King Kharavela of Kalinga (Chedi dynasty) and about his inscription which is known as Hathigumpha Inscription. As we know that Ashoka had fought a fierce battle with Kalinga and annexed it to his kingdom. But after the death of Ashoka, the empire had weak successors, and then Kalinga declared the independence of his kingdom.

We get information about the history of Kalinga only in this “Hathigumpha Inscription“, which is found in a cave of Udayagiri, near Bhubaneswar in Odisha. This topic is very important for the UPSC exam so let’s start.

InscriptionHathigumpha Inscription
Lines in Inscription17
ScriptBrahmi script
LanguagePrakrit language
Estimated Age1st century BCE
DiscovererBishop Stirling
First ReadBy Prinsep with errors
Correct Meaning PublishedBy Cunningham and Bhagwan Lal Indra in 1885
King Mentioned in InscriptionKing Kharavela of Kalinga
ContentCommendation of King Kharavela and his life and achievements
Hathigumpha Inscription

What is Hathigumpha Inscription?

The Hathigumpha Inscription is an ancient inscription found in the Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves in Bhubaneswar, Odisha, India. It was inscribed during the reign of King Kharavela of the Mahameghavahana dynasty in the 2nd century BCE. The inscription is written in Brahmi script and Prakrit language and provides valuable information about the history and achievements of King Kharavela and the ancient kingdom of Kalinga.

The Hathigumpha Inscription is considered one of the most important inscriptions of ancient India and has helped historians and scholars to better understand the social, political, and religious conditions of the time.

Important facts:

  • Hathigumpha Inscription contains 17 lines in Brahmi script and in Prakrit language.
  • Although neither the date nor the name of its creator is mentioned in it, on the basis of the script it is considered to be from the first century BC.
  • The discovery was made in 1825 by Bishop Stirling.
  • Further, it was first read by Prinsep but it was full of mistakes, Rajendra Lal Mitra published its meaning in 1880 but it was also incomplete.
  • In 1885, Cunningham and Bhagwan Lal Indra read its correct meaning, in which the king’s name was presented as Kharavela
  • This inscription is in the form of a commendation, describing the life and achievements of King Kharavela of Kalinga.

Chedi Dynasty of Kalinga

  • In the 6th century BC, during the Mahajanapada period, Chedi was Mahajanapada, in which Bundelkhand and border areas came.
  • The capital of the Chedi Dynasty was Shuktimati.
  • Due to the weakness in the power of the Mauryas, in the first century BC, a branch of this Chedi dynasty established an independent kingdom in Kalinga.
  • The founder of the Chedi Dynasty was Mahamegha Varman but Kharavela was the most powerful ruler.
  • An inscription of Kharavela has been received from the Hathigumpha of Udayagiri hills near Bhubaneswar.

Kharavela’s achievements in Hathigumpha Inscription

  • In the first year, the buildings destroyed by the storm were repaired, ponds and gardens were constructed, and for the entertainment of the people, thirty-five lakhs of currency was spent.
  • In the second year, regardless of the centenary, Kharavela sent the army to the west.
  • In the fourth year, he conducted a successful military campaign on the Bhojaks of Berar and eastern Khandesh.
  • In the fifth year, he brought the canal to the capital that was dug by Nandaraj, for three hundred years.
  • In the sixth year, he waived millions of taxes.
  • In the eighth year, he attacked Gorath Giri with a huge army, and due to the fear of Kharavela, Yavanaraj Deemit fled to Mathura.
  • In the eleventh year, his army went south and penetrated the Tamil Union.
  • In the twelfth year, he brought wealth from Magadha.
  • In the thirteenth year, carved caves for resting places for shelterless arhats and provided silk clothes to Jain monks for performing rituals.

Also Read: History of Vijayanagara Empire

The life of Kharavela mentioned in the Hathigumpha Inscription

  • Kharavela has been described as the third ruler of Kalinga.
  • From birth, till the age of 15, he was given all kinds of education.
  • At the age of 15,  Kharavela became the crown prince and participated in administrative work for 9 years.
  • He was coronated at the age of 24.

Religious Policies of Kharavela

  • Kharavela was a follower of Jainism, he built rest houses for Jain monks
  • The purpose of the “Hathigumpha Abhilekh” was to keep such residences safe that were built on the hills of Udayagiri.
  • It is known from the inscription that he had renovated the temples of all the deities.


Kharavela was a great conqueror, great creator, philanthropist, and religion-tolerant ruler. Further, he himself was a scholar and a patron of scholars. Moreover, in the Hathigumpha Inscription, he is called Rajarshi. Kharavela ruled for 13 years, how he died is not known but after his death, the mighty empire was disintegrated.

So, in this article, we have completely discussed Kharavela, who was the King of the Chedi Dynasty of Kalinga. Further, we have also discussed the things that are mentioned in Hathigumpha Inscription.

Thank You!

What is the Hathigumpha Inscription?

The Hathigumpha Inscription is an ancient inscription containing 17 lines in the Brahmi script and in the Prakrit language. It describes the life and achievements of King Kharavela of Kalinga.

Where was the Hathigumpha Inscription discovered?

The Hathigumpha Inscription was discovered in the Udayagiri hills near Bhubaneswar, in the state of Odisha, India in 1825 by British officer Captain Stirling.

Who first read the Hathigumpha Inscription and when was its meaning published?

The Hathigumpha Inscription was first read by James Prinsep, but his interpretation was full of mistakes. Its meaning was published by Rajendra Lal Mitra in 1880, although it was also incomplete.

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