Thursday, August 03, 2006

Temples Of the Gupta Dynasty

When I was in India during the month of May, I visited Delhi. Among the many places I visited there, the Qutub Minar and surrounding structures were one of them. We all have read about the Qutub Minar in our history classes in school, but those history classes did not teach us about the beautiful structures that are now almost in ruins, that lay beside the Minar.

Beside the Qutub Minar was this beautiful courtyard of a Hindu temple; only the courtyard with it sculpted columns remain now. The remaining part was destroyed by the muslim invaders or have other structures built over them and evidence of this is quite clearly present at the site. In the courtyard is an iron pillar with an inscription that praises Chandragupta I; this provides direct evidence that this temple was built during the time of the gupta dynasty, probably in the 4th century AD.

What I found very striking and surprising was that all the faces of the idols were defaced. Each pillar had a rectangular shape and each of its faces were intricately carved. The top of each pillar had Hindu gods on each side, and without exception each of these idols was defaced as the picture above shows.

1 comment:

Raj said...

I read it some where that Mughals especially the first Sultan of Delhi Qutubdin destroyed all the Gupta sculptures near Qutub Minar like the Iron pillar etc. I guess that may be the case with the defaced sculptures in the courtyard you are talking about.
Great that you visited those places. Gupta dynasty is very intresting for me always. With Kalidasa as one of their Navaratnas they always had a rich heritage.