Buildings, Paintings, and Books
Writing Books: During this period, epics were composed and compiled. Epics are grand and long compositions about heroic men, women, and God.
Building Temples: During this period, many temples for deities such as Vishnu, Shiva, and Durga were built.
Iron Pillar in Delhi: The Iron Pillar at Mehrauli in Delhi is the best example of the skill of Indian craftspersons. It is 1500 years old. Till today, the iron pillar has not rusted.
Paintings: Ajanta is a famous place for several caves and monasteries with paintings. Paintings were drawn inside caves in the light of torches. All paintings are 1500 years old and the artists are unknown.
Silappadikaram: A poet Ilango composed the Silappadikaram, a Tamil epic, around 1800 years ago. The Silappadikaram is about the story of a merchant and his wife, Kannagi. This epic mentions the incident that happened in Madurai.
Writings of Kalidasa: During this period, Kalidasa contributed a lot to Sanskrit literature. Malavikagnimitra, AbhigyanShakuntalam, Vikramorvasiya, Raghuvansham, and Kumarasambhava were some of the popular works of Kalidasa.
Writing Puranas: Purana means ‘old’. Many Puranas such as the Mahabharata and Ramayana were written during this period. The Puranas contain stories about gods and goddesses such as Vishnu, Shiva, Durga, Parvati.
Stupa: Stupa means ‘mound’. The common features of the stupa are round, tall, big, and small. At the centre of a stupa, there is a small box known as a relic casket, which contains bodily remains such as teeth, bone, and ashes.
Books on Science: During this period, Aryabhatta, a mathematician and an astronomer, wrote a book of science, “Aryabhatiyam”. He also developed a scientific explanation for eclipses. Zero was invented in India during this period only.
Madurai: Madurai is one of the cities in Tamil Nadu known for its temples. In this city, Tamil Sangam (Assembly) emerged and contributed to the development of Tamil literature and it was the first Sangam assembly in the sequence of the three Sangams.
The Great Stupa: It is located at Sanchi in Madhya Pradesh. It dates back to the period of Ashoka and is the best architectural evidence for Buddhist history.
Monolithic Temples: Monolithic Temples are temples that were carved out of a huge single rock. These temples can be seen in Mahabalipuram near Chennai city in Tamil Nadu.
The buildings such as stupas and temples also show the skill of the country’s craftspersons. These buildings were made of brick and stone.
- The great stupa at Sanchi, Madhya Pradesh, was built over several centuries. Amaravati was also a place where a magnificent stupa once existed.
- Some finest stone temples were built in towns like Mahabalipuram and Aihole.
- Building stupas and temples was an expensive affair. Therefore, only Kings and queens decided to build them. They spent money from their treasury to pay the craftspeople who worked to build these splendid buildings.
- The paintings of Ajanta are world-famous. This is a place where several caves were hollowed out of the hills over centuries. Most of these were monasteries and some of them were decorated with paintings.
- Some best-known epics were written during this period. For example—the Silappadikaram and the Manimekalai. These were Tamil epics written by llango and Sattanar respectively.
- Writers like Kalidasa wrote in Sanskrit. His best-known poem is the Meghaduta.
- The Puranas which contained religious stories were also written during this time. These were written in simple Sanskrit verse and were meant to be heard by everybody including women and Shudras.
- The Mahabharata and Ramayana, famous epics in Sanskrit had been popular for a long time.
- The Mahabharata is about a war fought between the Kauravas and Pandavas, who were cousins.
- The Ramayana is about Rama, who was the prince of Kosala but was sent into exile for fourteen years.
- The Jatakas were collections of stories that were told by ordinary people.
- Books on science were also written during this period. Aryabhatta, a mathematician and astronomer wrote a book in Sanskrit called Aryabhatiyam. He stated that day and night were caused by the rotation of the earth on its axis. He also developed a scientific explanation for eclipses.
Epic: It is a grand, long composition about heroic men and women and includes stories about gods.
Garbhagriha: It was an important part of the temple where the image of the chief deity was placed.
Jatakas: These were stories told by common people.
Mandapa: It was a hall-like structure built in the temple for the people to assemble.
Painting: It is the art of laying on colours.
Purana: It literary means old. The Puranas contained stories about Hindu gods and goddesses.
Stupa: It is a word that means a mound.
Temple: It is a religious place for the Hindus.
Shikhara: It refers to the tower of a temple.
- 2300 years ago – Beginning of Stupa building
- 2000 years ago – Amaravati
- 1600 years ago – Kalidasa
- 1500 years ago – Iron pillar, Temple at Bhitragaon, Paintings of Ajanta and Aryabhatta
- 1400 years ago – Durga Temple