- Beginning of the Buddhist School of architecture in India.
- Ashoka, first Mauryan to “think in stone”.
- Most of the shapes & decorative forms employed were indigenous in origin, some exotic forms show the influence of Greek, Persian and Egyptian cultures.
- Chinese traveler Fa-hien stated that “Ashoka’s palace was made by spirits” and that its carvings are so elegantly executed “which no human hands of this world could accomplish.”
- Megasthenes, the Greek ambassador of Selucas Nikator who visited the Mauryan court described Chandragupta Maurya’s palace as an excellent architectural achievement.
Mauryan Architecture divided into 2 categories;
1.Court Artchitecture (With State Initiative) Ex:- Pillars & Stupas
2.Popular Artchitecture (With Common Man Initiative) Ex:- Sculptures, Caves & Pottery
- Monolithic Ashokan pillars are marvels of architecture and sculpture.
- Top portion carved with sculptured capitals (bull, lion, elephant etc.)
- Sarnath pillar – finest pieces of sculpture of the Ashokan period.
- Most important ones are located at Bharhut, Bodhgaya, Sanchi, Amravati and Nagarjunakonda.
- Ex:- Lion capital of Sarnath, Bull capital of Rampurva & Lion capital of Laurya Nandangarh.
- The concept of Stupa started in the Vedic Period.
- It is a conventional representation of funeral cumulus, in which the ashes of the dead are buried.
- It is a Buddhist monument which is a hemi spherical dome with Buddha’s relics & ashes inoide.
- Originally 9 stupas were built after the death of Buddha; 8 of them over the relics & 9th over the vessel in which the relics were originally deposited.
- King Ashoka the Great constructed morethan 84,000 stupas in his reign.
- Hemispherical in shape with a low base.
- Symbolized the cosmic mountain.
- Inscription by the ivory carvers of vidisha on the southern gateway throws light on the transference of building material from perishable wood & ivory to the more durable stone.
- Built in 2nd or 1st century BC was probably like the one at sanchi.
- But in later centuries it was transformed from a hinayana shrine to a mahayana shrine.
- Further development of stupas at Sanchi & Bharhut.
- The base, dome & the hemisphere dome are sculpted.
- Stupas of Nagarjunakonda in Krishna valley were very large.
- Maha Chaitya of Nagarjunakonda has a base in the form of Swastika, which is a sun symbol.
Caves – Mauryan architecture
- Earliest known examples in India of rock-cut method.
- Caves were used Viharas.
- Polished inside the cave.
- Carved at Barabar & Nagarjuna hills near Gaya.
Lomas Rishi Cave (300 BC)
- Facade of the Lomus Rishi cave is decorated with the semicircular chaitya arch as the entrance
- Elephant frieze carved in high relief on the chaitya arch shows considerable movement
- Interior hall of this cave is rectangular with a circular chamber at the back.
- Entrance is located on the side wall of the hall.
- The cave was patronised by Ashoka for the Ajivika sect. The important features of the caves of this period were;
- Carved out of the living rock
- Polishing inside the cave
- Development of artistic gateway
- Northern Black polished ware (NBPW) & made of finely levitated alluvial clay.
- Highly lustrous polish.
- largely used for dishes & small bowls
- Large statues of Yaksha & Yakshini are found at many places like Patna, Vidisha & Mathura.
- Highly polished surface