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Ancient History / Guptan Era

Gupta Empire Art and Architecture


    The Gupta empire art and architecture is very much diverse in its design, style and characteristic features. Gupta Art and architecture includes temples, sculptures and paintings. They were the first rulers to build Hindu cave temples in India. The rock cut cave temple architecture in India reached its peak during Gupta period.

    Temple Architecture of Gupta Period

    The temple architecture of Gupta period includes both rock cut cave temples and structural temples.

    • Cave Temples

      • Buddhist rock cut temples of Gupta period are located at Ajanta, Maharashtra and at Bagh, Madhya Pradesh.

      • Guptas also built first Hindu cave temples at Udayagiri, Madhya Pradesh. These are Vaishnava temples.
    • Structural Temples

      • In North India, Guptas were first to build Hindu structural temples. In India, Ikshvakus were first rulers to build Hindu structural temples at Nagarjunakonda (Vijayapuri).

      • Temples built by Guptas are given below
        • Kankali Devi temple at Jabalpur
        • Vishnu and Varaha temples at Eran, Madhya Pradesh
        • Parvati and Mahadeva temples at Nachna Kuthara, Madhya Pradesh
        • Dasavatara temple at Deogarh, Uttar Pradesh
        • Ruined temple at Bhitargaon near Kanpur

      • Shikhara (or Nagara) style temple architecture got emerged during Gupta period.

    Sculptures of Gupta Period

    The sculptures of Gupta period are mainly found in Madhya Pradesh and Bihar

    • We can find a huge stone made man-boar (Varaha) image at Udayagiri hills, Madhya Pradesh in which Vishnu is shown as Varaha. Guptas were Vaishnavites, who worshipped the Boar.

    • We could find Copper statue of Buddha at Sultanganj in Bihar. The height of the image is seven and half feet and weight is of 1 ton. Right now it is found in Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery.

    Gupta Period Art

    Gupta period Art mainly includes Paintings

    • Gupta period paintings are found in the cave of Bagh in the state of Madhya Pradesh.

    • Gupta empire paintings are also found at Ajanta caves (World Heritage Center) in Aurangabad district of Maharashtra.

      In Ajanta caves, we can see unique combination of architecture like monuments, sculpture, paintings all belonging to Buddhism. 31 caves are cut off in a hill of horseshoe shape within a range of 500 m. Some of them are Viharas and some are Chaityas. In some caves, we find beautiful Fresco or Mural paintings, which are painted on walls and ceilings.

      The paintings of Ajanta were taken from Jatakas (500 in number, literature), part of Sutta Pitaka. The caves were not built in one period. Earliest caves, 9 and 10, belong to Satavahana period. The last caves that were built, belong to 8th Century AD. Some of the caves belong to the Gupta period and shows the magnificence Gupta empire art and architecture.