Late Post: Gupta India

The ancient empire of the Mauryan dynasty fell apart in the early second BCE and India reverted to feudal fragmentation. Amultitude of local dynasties took charge of many small state. Those states had different religious and temples like similarly the empire nation was very fragmented. Uniform monotheism of Christianity after the fall of Rome, religious beliefs in India have multiplied such as Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. So they needed a new architectural expressions for those religious. Also pilgrimage shrines and sacred caves relics axquired greater ritual importance of the centers of political power. The principal temples and monasteries appeared in remote areas away from the major cities and attracted a continuous flow of pilgrims.

The Caves at Bhaja

Buddhists sponsored projects for chaitya halls and monasteries across the northern and central regions of Indai. The best preserved examples remained those carved in the clifts. And they continued to build stupas, temples, monasteries and rock-cut sanctuaries. The caves at Bhaja, were the earliest Indian rock-cut temples. They made quite explict the crossover of the traditions of wooden architecture into stone hall and they were like almost freestanding buildings. Alsa they gave impressions of what the vanished wooden structures. There was only one enter to chaitya hall at Bhaja ( with a horseshoe-shaped arch) and as generally they have some strong relations and resemblance with early Chrisitian basilicas.

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Temple 17

The gupta dynasty left most architectural patronage to the high ranking members of the court. Gupta designers added a small temple with a colonnaded porch in around 400 which know as Temple 17. Built of mortarless ashlar blocks, it is almost as if a rock-cut temple had been extracted from the cliffs and transported to the site. The porch carries two pairs of monolithic columns which was appeared quite complex. The perceftly square, windowless temple remained as dark as rock-cut caves and served for the devotional contemplation of an image. The Gupta court also sponsored caves which were quite similar in format to Temple 17. Caves 6  and 7 share a similar treatment of T-shaped door-jambs and pilasters in the same style as the porch columns.

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The authority of Gupta dynasty began to falter in 467 after the invasions of Huns. The Pandava ratha lacked wheels but included five monolithic buildings and a few outscaled animals. One elephant was carved from a massive loaf a gneiss stone with 60m lon and 12m high. A rectangular walled precinct surronded the whole in the Indian version of a temenos known as a parkara. Four of the temples followed a linear sequence like a procession, depicting stone simulacra of conventional buildings of the time. The penultimate took the form of a two story palace carved from a single block of stone but looking as if was built of wooden joinery. Its barrel-vault roof carried horseshoe arch dormers and tiny balconies.

 

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