Bengal Gupta Viharas: Its Characteristics and Influence in Post Gupta Period
This paper focuses mainly on the Buddhist Viharas that had been constructed during the period Gupta dynasty (320 AD- 550 AD), when Indian sub continent was enjoying its Golden Age in art and architecture. Archaeological research in the region of Bengal has revealed traces of numerous Buddhist religious structures from 5th until the 11th century A.D. Physical conditions of most of the structure are so poor that it is almost impossible to perceive their architectural characteristics. However, scholars have worked hard to reveal their layout, architectural plan and spatial organization from the archaeological excavation. Till now, not much archeological excavation has been conducted to reveal the Gupta legacy, especially in Bengal; it is difficult to determine the characteristics of the architectural style solely from the archeological evidence of that particular period. Evidence from the post-Gupta dynasties, such as the Gouda, Khadga, Vardhan and mainly the Pala, also bear evidences of Gupta influence on later periods. This study will use the archaeological resources, mainly drawings and images, to understand the architectural characteristics of the Buddhist monastic architecture that has been developed in Bengal in this period. At the same time, it will attempt to use the work on the virtual hypothetical reconstruction of viharas carried out by other scholar. Major objective of this paper is to emphasize the key characteristics of Gupta viharas of Bengal. It will further attempt to explore the general Gupta architectural style of Bengal and will try to address the question as to whether such a phenomenon really existed.
Keywords: Bengal, Gupta, Vihara, Architecture
Dr Mohammad Habib Reza
MPhil student, Department of Architecture, University of Liverpool