Gupta Age Art & Culture


Guptas were Bramhanical by Religion (Hindus) with special devotion to Vishnu. They showed exemplary tolerance for both Buddhism and Jainism. Gupta Coins – king on one side & goddess on the other.

Gupta Age

  • Golden Age of Indian Architecture
  • Described as ‘classic’ in sense of degree of perfection it achieved
  • 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 Jtaka stories belong to this period



  • 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.
  • The Gupta temples were of five main types:


Type 1
  • Square building with flat roof
  • Shallow pillared porch
  • Sanctum (garbhagriha) at the center of the temple
  • A single entrance & porch (Mandapa)
  • Mandapa appears to originate 1st from here
  • Vishnu Varaha temples at Eran (MP)Vishnu Varaha temples at Eran
Type 2
  • Square temple with a squat tower (shikhara) above;
  • Pillared approach, a high platform at the base
  • ladkhan at Aihole (Karnataka)

ladkhan temple at Aihole

Type 3
  • An elaboration of the first type
  • Addition of an ambulatory (paradakshina) around the sanctum
  • Sometimes a second story is present
  • Dasavatara temple (Deogarh, Jhansi)
  • 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.

Dasavatara temple

Type 4
  • Rectangular temple with an apsidal back
  • Barrel-vaulted roof above
  • Ex. Kapoteswara temple at Cezarla (Andhra Pradesh)

Kapoteswara temple at Cezarla

Type 5
  • Circular temples with shallow rectangular projection
  • Maniyar Math shrine at Rajgir, Bihar

Maniyar Math shrine at Rajgir

Gupta Literature

  • Sanskrit became primary language in Gupta period
  • Ramayana & Mahabharata were compiled during this period
Kalidasa Abhigyanshakuntalam, Malvikagnimitram, Vikramorvasiya, Kumarsambhava, Raghuvamsa, Ritusamhara, Meghaduta
Vishakadatta Mudrarakshash & Devi – Chandraguptam
Vishnusharma Panchtantra stories
Sudraka Mrich – chakatika (Little clay art or toy cart)
Amarsimha Amarkosha (Lexicon in sanskrit)
Dandin Kavyadarsa & Desa – kumarcharita

Gupta Science & Technology

Aryabhatta Aryabhatiyam , Suryasidhhanta
Varahmitra Panch sidhhanta (5 astronomical system)Brihadsamhita, Brihadjataka (Astrology)
Vagbhata AshtangasamgrahaSummary of 8 branches of Medicine
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