Part of: Prelims and GS – I – History
Context Recently, Archeologists of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) have found ‘Shankhalipi’ inscriptions on the stairs on an ancient temple dating back to the Gupta period in Uttar Pradesh’s Etah district.
- Bilsarh, in Etah-Uttar Pradesh, where the remains were found has been a protected site from the colonial times and is a known Gupta period settlement.
- The ‘shankhalipi’ inscriptions were deciphered by the archaeologists as saying, ‘Sri Mahendraditya’, the title of Kumaragupta I of the Gupta dynasty.
- The discovery becomes significant since only two other structural temples from the Gupta age have been found so far — Dashavatara Temple (Deogarh) and Bhitargaon Temple (Kanpur Dehat).
About the Shankhalipi script
- This script is assumed to be Brahmi derivatives that look like conch shells or shankhas.
- They are found in inscriptions across North-Central India and date to between the 4th and 8th centuries.
- The inscriptions consist of a small number of characters, suggesting that the shell inscriptions are names or auspicious symbols or a combination of the two.
- The script was discovered in 1836 on a brass trident in Uttarakhand’s Barahat by English scholar James Prinsep.
- Prominent sites with shell inscriptions include the Mundeshwari Temple in Bihar, the Udayagiri Caves in Madhya Pradesh, Mansar in Maharashtra and some of the cave sites of Gujarat and Maharashtra.
- The shell inscriptions are also reported in Indonesia’s Java and Borneo.
Kumaragupta I of the Gupta dynasty
- The Guptas were the first to build structural temples, distinctly different from the ancient rock-cut temples.
- Kumaragupta I was the son of Chandragupta II and grandson of the Great Samudragupta of Gupta dynasty.
- He built the world famous ancient Nalanda University.
- Among the Gupta kings, he issued the largest varieties of coins.