Gupta art and Architecture Upsc

Art and architecture in Gupta period

The Guptas period made great progress in the field of art, culture, and architecture. Some people called the Gupta empire architecture a golden age and period of renaissance.

Both Nagara and Dravidian styles of architecture evolved during this period and most of the architecture was destroyed during the Huns.

Temple at Deogarh near Jhansi and temple sculpture at Garhwal near Allahabad are important remains of Gupta Architecture and had no influence on the Gandhara style.

Standing Buddha at Mathura has Greek style. Skandagupta’s Bhitari monolithic pillar is also a great example. Metallurgy has great progress during the Gupta period, an example was casting metal statues and pillars.

The copper statue of Buddha found at Sultanganj now in Birmingham museum is nearly half a ton and seven and a half feet in height.

Delhi Iron pillar is an excellent example of scientific advancement during the Gupta period at it is still not affected by rust.

Art and architecture in Gupta period
Buddha statue from Gupta Period By Biswarup Ganguly – This file has been extracted from another file: Bodhisattva – Kushana Gupta – 385 AD – Bodhgaya – Bihar – Indian Museum – Kolkata 2012-11-16 1967.JPG, CC BY 3.0,

Bhitari monolithic pillar

It is located in Bhitari, Saidpur, Ghazipur in Uttar Pradesh and it dates to Empire Skandagupta around 455 -467 AD.

It was emperor Ashoka who erected this pillar. The inscriptions in the Bitari pillar suggest that Skandagupta restored the Gupta power by defeating the foreign invaders.

Golden age gupta empire paintings

Paintings of the Guptas period were found at Bagh caves near Gwalior. The mural painting of Ajanta illustrates the Jataka stories of Buddha.

Sigiriya paintings of Sri Lanka were influenced by the Mural painting of Ajanta.

Samudraguptas issued eight types of Gold coins and Chandragupta II and his successor also issued different varieties of gold, copper, and silver coins.

Rock Cut and Structural Temples

There are changes in the ornamentation of the facade and in the designs of pillars and the interiors. The most important ones are rock-cut caves at Ajanta, Ellora (Maharashtra), and Bagh Caves (Madhya Pradesh). Also Udayagiri caves (Orissa).

The structural temples have the following characteristics:

  • Flat roofed square temple with a vimana (second storey)

  • Flat roofed square temple

  • Square temple with a curvilinear tower (shikara)

  • rectangular temple

  • circular temple


The stupas were built in large numbers. The best on are Samat at Uttar Pradesh, Ratnagiri at Orissa, and Mirpur Khas at Sind.


A number of good stone structures such well known erect of Buddha from Sarnath, puranic images such as the great Boar (Varaha) at the entrance of the cave at Udayagiri.

Metal Statues

The casting metal statues technology was practiced on a large scale by the craftsmen during the Gupta era. Examples are:

  • a copper image of Buddha about 18 feet high at Nalanda in Bihar.

  • Sultanganj Buddha of seven and a half feet height.


Painting is more in demand than stone sculpture during the Gupta period. The Mural painting of this period is found at Ajanta, Bagh, Badami, and other places.

The surfaces of these paintings were done in a very simple way and the mural painting of Ajanta are not true frescoes. The frescoes are painted while the plaster is still damp. The murals of Ajanta were made after the plaster is set.

The art of Ajanta and Bagh shows the Madhyadesa school of painting at its best.

Terracotta and Pottery

Clay figurines were used both for religious and secular purposes. Some of the figurines are Vishnu, Karttikeya, Durga, Naga, and other gods and goddesses.

These pottery remains were found at Ahchichhatra, Rajgarh, Hastinapur, and Bashar which are great examples of excellent pottery. The most important class of pottery during the Gupta period is “Red Ware”.

Red Ware Pottery
Red Ware Pottery By Biswarup Ganguly, CC BY 3.0,

Sanskrit Literature

The Guptas made Sanskrit the official language and their inscriptions were written in it. This Gupta period also saw the last phase of the Smriti literature.


These are religious texts that covers wide range of subjects such as ethics, politics, culture and art. Dharmasastras and puranas forms this core of the body of the literature.

Sanskrit Grammar

This period also saw the growth of Sanskrit Grammar. Panini wrote Astadhyayi and Patanjali wrote Mahabhashya, both were Sanskrit grammar works.

The Gupta period was also memorable for the compilation of the Amarakosa which is a thesaurus in Sanskrit which was written by Amarasimha.

Chandragomia, a Buddhist scholar from Bengal composed a book on Sanskrit grammar called Chandravyakaranam.

Puranas and Ithihasas

Puranas which we knew today was during this time by the Brahmins. They were originally composed by bards/professional storytellers having priestly hands and then they were rewritten in classical Sanskrit.

The details on Hindu sects, rites, and customs were added to these documents to make them religious. The Mahabharata and the Ramayana got their final shape which we have today, are the work done during this period.

The 18 Major Puranas are:

  • Brahma Purana

  • Padma Purana

  • Vishnu Purana

  • Skanda Purana

  • Shiva Maha Purana

  • Markendeya Purana

  • Agni Purana

  • Bhavishya Purana

  • Matsya Purana

  • Shrimad Bhagavat Purana

Buddhist Literature during Guptas

Arya Deva and Arya Asanga were the most notable writers. The first regular Buddhist work on logic was written by Vasubandhu. Vasubandhu’s disciple, Dignaga also did several works on Literature.

Jaina Literature during Guptas

Vimala produced a Jaina version of Ramayana and Siddasena Divakara laid the foundation of logic among the Jainas.

Secular Literature

Samudragupta is also known as Kaviraja, this title is established by himself. His court is had celebrated Navaratnas like Kalidasa, Amarasimha, Visakadatta and Dhanvantri.

The dramas written by Kalidasa are Sakunthalam, Malavikagnimitram, and Vikramaurvashiyam. The works of Sudraka are Mrichchhakatika, works of Visakhadatta are Mudraraksasa and Devichandraguptam.

During this period the elite spoke in Sanskrit and the common people spoke Prakrit.

Prakrit Language and Literature

This period witnessed the evolution of many Prakrit forms such as Suraseni used in Mathura and its vicinity, Ardh Magadhi spoken in Awadh, Bundelkhand, and Magadhi, which is in modern Bihar.


In this, we have discussed the Art, Literature, and Architecture during the period of Gupta rule. Also, art and culture were glorified during their reign. This post is useful for Upsc, Tnpsc, SSC, and other government exams.

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* * All the Notes in this blog, are referred from Tamil Nadu State Board Books and Samacheer Kalvi Books. Kindly check with the original Tamil Nadu state board books and Ncert Books.
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