Details on the Gupta Age & Cave Architecture for Competitive Exams

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The Gupta Age

Gupta Age
  • Timeline A. D. to A. D. approx.
  • Art, science and literature flourished greatly during their time.
  • The iconographic canons of Brahmanical, Jain, and Buddhist divinities were perfected and standardized.
  • Two climax in this era
  • Architecture
  • Cave architecture
  • Temple architecture
  • Sculpture
  • Sarnath school of sculpture


  • Brahmanical by religion
  • Showed tolerance towards Jainism and Budhhism.
  • Development of Hinudism.
  • Mainly Three deities of Hinduism
  • Vishnu-Northern and central India
  • Shiv-Southern India
  • Shakti-Bengal and eastern India, Malabar region of kerala

Cave Architecture

  • Earliest rock cut caves by Asoka (around B. C.) and his grandson Dasharatha.
  • Early caves excavated on wooden models
  • Standardised religious meeting places
  • Ex. Barabar caves and Nagarjun I caves
  • Inner walls finely polished.
  • Later cave temples and monestries found in many parts of India.
  • West Deccan under Satvahana rulers-largest and most famous artificial caves were excavated.
  • Eventually this rock cut architecture developed into powerful and popular architectural style.

Phases of Cave Architecture

Cave Architecture
  • 3 definite phases

1st Phase or Earliest Phase-2nd B. C. To 2nd a. D

  • Related exclusively to early budhhism
  • Buddha was represented symbolically
  • Major excavations chaitya and vihar
  • Practised in less permamnent materials like wood.
  • Ex-karla, Kanheri, Nasik, Bhaja, Bedsa caves.

2nd Phase-5th and 7th Century

  • Elimination of timber
  • Introduction of the image of the Buddha
  • The plan of excavations specially for chaitya remained the same as before.
  • Vihar - some changes housed the image of Budhha

3rd Phase-Or the Last Phase-7th to 10th Century

  • The hindus and Jains extended the Buddhist architectural tradition
  • With some modifications suitable to their rituals

Dravidian Cave Architecture

Dravidian Architecture
  • Dominant features
  • The Mandapa-open pavallion excavated out of a rock-simple columned hall with two or more cells
  • The Ratha-monolithic shrine carved out of a single rock