Features of Art & Architecture During the Gupta Age
- Gupta period is referred to as the Golden Age due to its cultural heritage which is found in the fields of art & architecture, language & literature.
- Gupta period was marked by political stability and prosperity which resulted in art & architecture in India to reach its creative heights.
- Gupta Art & Architecture was largely Indigenous with very limited or no foreign influence which was very clear in earlier ages.
- Most of the architecture surviving from the Gupta Age is religious in character.
Shrines of Temples were of three kinds During Gupta Age:
- Sandhara type: Temples without pradakshinapatha
- Nirandhara type: Temples with pradakshinapatha
- Sarvatobhadra type: Temples which can be accessed from sides
Temples During Gupta Times
- Material used: Construction of temple was done using dry stone masonry in the desired shape & form.
- Binding agent: There was no use of mortar. Tenon & groove method was used for joining the stones where one block of stone tenon was inserted in the hole in which the hole was created.
- Plan of temple:
- Basic plan for temples emerged which became the standard for temples in India.
- This plan had a simple square cell with a flat roof fronted by a low-pillared porch or mandapa.
- The square cell was the garbhagriha where the presiding deity of the temple was placed.
- The garbhagriha was small (10ft by 10ft), just enough to enclose the image of the deity.
- Extended porch with pillars was for the devotees standing in front of the deity.
- Interiors of these temples was plain. However, there was rich decoration on doorways.
Examples of Gupta Age Stone Temples:
- Temple no. 17 at Sanchi in Raisen, Madhya Pradesh
- Kankali Devi Temple at Tigawa in Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh
- Parvati Temple at Nacana-Kathura in Panna, Madhya Pradesh
- Shiva Temple at Bhumara in Satna, Madya Pradesh
- Dasavatara temple at Deogarh in Lalitpur, Uttar Pradesh
Examples of Brick Temples from Gupta Times:
- Brick temple at Bhitargaon in Kanpur, UP
- Brick temple at Sirpur in Raipur, Chhattisgarh
Later Gupta Temples
These temples were built on a raised plinth and had a shikhara (spire). Examples include Dashavatara temple at Deogarh and Bhitargaon temple both of which had curvilinear shikharas.
Gupta Temple at Sanchi:
Nacana Kathura Temple, Jabalpur:
- Dedicated to Goddess Parvati.
- This temple is built on a raised platform.
- This temple has a square garbhagriha and has a flat roof.
- This temple is west facing unlike most Indian temples which face the east.
- The temple has a passageway along all sides known as Pradakshinapath.
Figure of Nacana Kathura Temple in Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh.
Bhitargaon Temple, Kanpur:
- This temple was constructed using bricks.
- The outer walls of Bhitargaon temple are decorated using terracotta panels that depict mythological scenes.
- This temple provides the earliest example of the true arch in India.
Brahmanical Rock-Cut Cave
- They are a group of 22 rock-cut caves in Vidisha district of MP.
- Three of the caves bear inscriptions of Gupta kings. Two from Chandragupta II and one from Kumaragupta’s reign.
- These caves are dedicated to Hindu gods Vishnu and Shiva and Jainism.
- They are oldest Hindu cave temples in India and have best preserved sculptural representation of Hindu deities.
- Famous sculptures found in Udayagiri Caves
- Varaha panel: Most impressive representation in Udayagiri caves. This is colossal relief sculpture excavated on the wall of Varaha (boar avatar of Vishnu) rescuing Earth from drowning in the ocean.
- Ekamukhalingam Shiva
- Sculpture of Kartikeya.
Buddhist Religious Architecture During Gupta Times
- Many Buddhist stupas, chaityas and viharas were built during the Gupta period.
Stupas During Gupta Age:
Dhamekh stupa at Sarnath was enlarged and layered with stones carved with beautiful scroll work & geometric designs.
Buddhist Rock-Cut Cave Architecture
- Prominent examples of Buddhist rock-cut architecture in Gupta period at Ajanta caves and Bagh caves.
- Rock cut caves during this time were excavated under the patronage of Gupta and Vakataka rulers.
- Mahayana sect became the most popular Buddhist sect during the Gupta age. Thus, Mahayana monks largely occupied these caves.
- Since the Mahayanists believe in image worship of Buddha, there is rich sculptural & painted representation of Buddha and Bodhisattvas in human form.
- This site has 9 rock-cut Buddhist caves belonging to 500-600 AD.
- It is located 150 km north of Ajanta caves in Vindhyas in the Dhar district of Madhya Pradesh on the banks of Bhagini River, a tributary of Narmada River.
- Although Bagh caves are similar in plan and arrangement to Ajanta caves, but in terms of ornamentation these caves are simpler and plain.
- These caves were residential cells (viharas) with a large central cell
- Mural paintings: Bagh caves are famous for mural paintings.