Gupta Age Architecture, Culture & literature

Gupta Age Architecture

  • Known as “Golden Age of Indian Architecture”.
  • Also marked as the climax stage of Buddhist caves & monasteries esp. in western central India.
  • Nagara & Dravidian styles of Temple making evolved during this period.
  • Mural paintings of Ajanta, which mainly depicted life stories of Buddha as in Jataka stories belong to this period
  • Greatest development in this age is Cave paintings.
  • Guptas were Brahmins by religion but they also showed their tolerance towards for both Buddhism & jainism.
  • Issued Coins with king on one side & goddess on the other.

Under Hinduism, Mainly 3 deities were worshiped i.e

  • Vishnu – Vaishnavas (North & central part of India)
  • Shiva – Shaivas (S.India)
  • Shakti – Shaktis (S.W Malabar region & E.India)


  • One new school was added i.e. Sarnath school of sculpture
  • Noteworthy example is Sultanganj Buddha (7.5 ft in height) – (Near Bhagalpur in Bihar)
  • Buddha images in Sarnath have plain transparent drapery covering both shoulders
  • Halo around the head has very little ornamentation

Gupta Temple Architecture

  • Gupta period marks the beginning of Indian temple architecture.
  • Manuals were written regarding how to form temples.
  • Gupta temples were of 5 stages.

Gupta Age ArchitectureFirst stage

  • Square building with flat roof
  • Shallow pillared approach at the front
  • Sanctum (garbhagriha) at the center of the temple
  • On low platforms
  • A single entrance & appporch (Mandapa)
  • Mandapa appears to originate 1st from here
  • Vishnu Varaha temples at Eran (MP)

Gupta Age ArchitectureSecond stage

  • Square temple with a squat tower (shikhara) above;
  • Pillared approach, a high platform at the base
  • On high platforms
  • ladkhan at Aihole (Karnataka) & Parbati temple at Nachnabuthara in M.P

Gupta Age ArchitectureThird stage

  • An elaboration of the first type
  • Addition of an ambulatory (paradakshina) around the sanctum
  • Sometimes a second story is present
  • Most unique achievement of this stage was “Curvilinear tower” i.e. “Shikhara”.
  • “Nagara Style” temple making is said to be the success of third stage of temple making.
  • Ex:- Dasavatara temple in Deogarh, U.P. & Durga temple at Aihole, Karnataka.

Gupta Age ArchitectureFourth stage

  • Rectangular temple & rest all features continued.
  • Barrel-vaulted roof above
  • Ex. Kapoteswara temple at Cezarla (Andhra Pradesh) & Ter temple at solapur.

Gupta Age ArchitectureFifth stage

  • Circular temples with shallow rectangular projection
  • Maniyar Math shrine at Rajgir, Bihar

Gupta Literature

  • Sanskrit became primary language in Gupta period
  • Ramayana & Mahabharata were compiled during this period
  • Kalidasa wrote Abhigyanshakuntalam, MalvikagnimitramVikramorvasiya, KumarsambhavaRaghuvamsa, Ritusamhara, Meghaduta Vishakadatta, Mudrarakshash & Devi Chandraguptam
  • Vishnusharma wrote Panchtantra stories
  • Sudraka wrote Mrichakatika
  • Amarsimha wrote Amarkosha
  • Dandin wrote Kavyadarsa & Desa kumarcharita
Gupta Science & Technology
  • Aryabhatta wrote Aryabhatiyam , Suryasidhhanta
  • Varahmitra wrote Panch sidhhanta, Brihadsamhita, Brihadjataka (Astrology)
  • Vagbhata wrote Ashtangasamgraha (Medicine)

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