Art and Architecture

During the Mauryan period there was a great development in the field of art and architecture. The main examples of the Mauryan art and architecture that survived are

  • Ashokan pillars and capitals.
  • Remains of the royal palace and the city of Pataliputra
  • Rock-cut Chaitya caves in the Barabar and Nagarjuni hills
  • Individual Mauryan sculptures and terracotta figurines
  • The famous city of Pataliputra was described in detail by Megasthenese, references of which are found in the writings of Strabo, Arian and other Greek writers. It stretched along the river Ganga. It was enclosed by a wooden wall and had 64 gates. Excavations have brought to light remains of palaces and the wooden palisade.

    The Mauryan wooden palace survived for about 700 years because at the end of the 4th century AD when Fa Hien saw, it was astounding. The palace and also the wooden palisade seem to have been destroyed by fire. The burnt wooden structure and ashes have been found from Kumrahar. Seven rock-cut caves in the Barabar and Nagarjuni hills show that the tradition of rock-cut caves in India began with the Mauryas. These caves were caused to be excavated by Ashoka and his grandson Dasaratha for the abode of Ajivika monks
    The most extraordinary object of Mauryan period was monolithic stone pillars of up to 15m height with a capital. The pillars comprise two pars a shaft tapering from the base with a diameter from about 90 cm to 125 cm. These pillars had a capital at the top which was adorned with animal figurines. The main animal figurines were lions, horses, bulls and elephants. The pillars and the capitals were made of sandstone near Chunar in Mirzapur dist. They were all polished which gave them a shine. Some Yaksha and Yakshini figures have been found from Mathura, Pawaya and Patna. They are large sized statues representing folk art of the period.