Art & Culture

1,500-year-old temple remains found near Agra belongs to Gupta Dynasty

There was Shankhalipi ancient script inscribed on the temple remains which dated back from 4th-8th Century CE.

The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has found remains of an ancient temple dating back to the Gupta Period, 5th Century CE in Bilsarh village of Uttar Pradesh’s Etah.

Bilsarh has been a protected archaeological site since the year 1928. Around monsoon season every year, the ASI undertakes scrubbing work at the protected sites.

At the spot, the archaeologists discovered “two decorative pillars (at the spot) close to one another, with human figurines (found earlier).”  Vasant Swarnkar, superintending archaeologist of ASI’s Agra circle said, “To understand their significance, we conducted further excavation and found the stairs,” quoted The Times of India. 

Last month, the staircase was excavated has Shankhalipi inscriptions that were ” deciphered as saying ‘Sri Mahendraditya’, which was the title of Kumaragupta I of the Gupta dynasty.” The ancient stairs led to an undiscovered structural temple that was built during the Gupta era for Brahmins, Jains and Buddhists. The recent discovery is significant in the sense that to date only two other structural temples from the Gupta age has been found.

Shankhalipi is an ancient script that was used from the 4th to 8th centuries CE for names and signatures.  The Shankhalipi inscription was earlier found on a horse status found in Lakhimpur Kheri and is now at the State Museum in Lucknow, the TOI reported. 

In the 5th century CE, Kumaragupta I ruled for 40 years over what is now north-central India.

According to history Professor Manvendra Pundhir from Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), the other structural temples were identified as Dashavatara Temple (Deogarh) and Bhitargaon Temple (Kanpur Dehat). He added that the Guptas were the first to build structural temples, a distinct change from the ancient rock-cut temples. Professor Pundhir emphasised, “The Etah pillars are well-sculpted, better than the earlier examples in which only the lower sections were carved. The decorative pillars and staircase are a bit more advanced than the earlier ones.”

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