Architecture During Gupta Age

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:

  1. Sandhara type: Temples without pradakshinapatha
  2. Nirandhara type: Temples with pradakshinapatha
  3. 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:

image 362

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.
image 363

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.
image 364

Brahmanical Rock-Cut Cave

Udayagiri 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.

Ajanta Caves

Bagh Caves

  • 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.
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