Temple Art in Gupta Period
Gupta Period is called the “Golden age of India” or the “Classical Age of India” partially due to the unprecedented activities and development in the arts, architecture, sculpture, painting and literature.
During Gupta Era, the rock cut architecture reached its zenith and this era marked the beginning of the
Free Standing temple Architecture. Most of the temples built in the Gupta era were carved with representation of Gods (mainly avatara of Vishnu and Lingams) and Goddesses. The most important temple of Gupta era is Dasavatar Temple of Deogarh, Uttar Pradesh.
Following is a brief description of the temples & Stupas of the Gupta Era:
Dasavatara temple, Deogarh Uttar Pradesh
Dasavatara temple is located in Deogarh Village in Lalitpur town in Uttar Pradesh. The temple was discovered by Captain Charles Strahan and was named so by Alexander Cunningham. It depicts the 10 avatara of Vishnu. It is a large and elaborate edifice with typical temple art of Guptas (without Shikhara) and cubical Garbhagriha. This temple has also been linked to the “Sarvatobhadra temple” mentioned in the Vishnudharmottara Purana by several scholars.
Bhitagaon Temple is located in Kanpur District of Uttar Pradesh. It is the oldest remaining Hindu temple, and was built in the Gupta Era in 6th century.
The Dhamekha stupa is located at Sarnath, 13 km away from Varanasi. It marks the deer park or Rishipattana where Buddha gave his first sermon. As per an inscription dated 1026 AD, recovered from the site, its older name is Dharmachakra Stupa. Archeologist, Alexander Cunningham in search of a relic casket bored a vertical shaft through it center down to the foundation and at a depth of around 91 centimeter he found a slab with an inscription…..Ye Dharma Hetu Prabhava Hetu…..written in Brahmi script. This inscription is of 6th or 7th century. Below this, one more stupa made of mauryan bricks has been found which gives in indication that Asoka might have commissioned it.
Other temples of the Gupta Era are as follows:
- Vishnu Temple of Tigawa Jabalpur
- Shiva Temple of Bhumara
- Parvati Temple of Nachria Kathura
- Mukund Darra Temple of Kota
- Lakshaman Temple of Raipur
- Shiva Temple of Koh.
- Bhitari Temple at Ghazipur
Salient features of the Gupta Temples:
In Gupta period, the basic, characteristic elements of the Indian temple consisting of a square sanctum sanctorum and a pillared porch had emerged.
- The Shikhara was not much prominent in the early Gupta temples but was prominent in later Gupta era. There was a single entrance or mandapa or Porch.
- Gupta style temple was modeled on the architectural norms of the Mathura school.
- Some Other Notes about Gupta Temples
- Sanchi temple at Tigwa has a flat roof.
- Dasavatar Temple at Deogarh , Bhitargaon temple and Mahadev Temple at Nachna Kuthar have a square tower of Shikhara.
- Manyar Math at Rajgriha is a circular temple of Gupta Era.
- Main style of temple architecture in i.e. Nagara style and Dravida style actually began from the Gupta era.
- The earliest stone temple with Shikhara is Dasavatar Temple at Deogarh.
- The Bhitargaon temple at Kanpur is entirely made up of Bricks.