The post-Gupta period in India, which lasted from the 6th to the 12th century CE, saw a significant shift in the nature of urbanism in the Indian subcontinent. The following are some of the salient features of post-Gupta urbanism in India:
The decline of large imperial cities: The collapse of the Gupta Empire led to the decline of many large imperial cities, such as Pataliputra and Ujjain, which had been centres of political power and cultural activity during the Gupta period. This decline was due to a combination of factors, including invasions, political instability, and economic downturns.
The emergence of new regional centres: As the large imperial cities declined, new regional centres emerged in various parts of the Indian subcontinent. These centres were often smaller in scale than the imperial cities and were based on a combination of trade, agriculture, and craft production. Some of the most notable regional centres of this period were Dhanyakataka (present-day Dharanikota, Andhra Pradesh), Sarnath (Uttar Pradesh) and Srinagar (Kashmir).
Development of temple cities: The post-Gupta period saw a significant increase in the construction of temples, particularly in the southern regions of India. Many of these temples were located in urban centres and served as important religious, cultural, and economic hubs. The temple cities of this period, such as Kanchipuram, Thanjavur, and Madurai, were renowned for their architectural and artistic achievements.
Growth of trade and commerce: The post-Gupta period saw a significant expansion of trade and commerce, both within the Indian subcontinent and with other regions of Asia and Africa. The growth of trade led to the development of new urban centres, such as the port city of Arikamedu (Tamil Nadu) and the trading centre of Srinagar (Kashmir).
Evolution of urban planning and architecture: The post-Gupta period saw a significant evolution in the planning and architecture of urban centres. The use of grid patterns, regular street layouts, and the construction of public spaces, such as squares and parks, became more prevalent. The use of brick and stone as building materials also became more common.
Development of water management systems: The post-Gupta period saw the development of sophisticated water management systems, such as tanks and canals, in many urban centres. These systems were designed to ensure an adequate supply of water for drinking, irrigation, and sanitation. The water management systems at the temple cities of South India are considered as the most advanced of their time.
The emergence of new religions and sects: The post-Gupta period saw the emergence of new religious sects, such as Jainism and Buddhism, which challenged the traditional religious beliefs and practices of the Vedic period. These new sects emphasized the importance of non-violence, compassion, and the attainment of enlightenment through personal effort. This had a significant impact on the development of urban centres, as many of these sects established monasteries and temples in urban areas.
The post-Gupta period in India saw a significant shift in the nature of urbanism, with the decline of large imperial cities, the emergence of new regional centres, and the development of temple cities, trade and commerce, urban planning, water management systems and new religions. These changes laid the foundation for the further development of urbanism in India and had a lasting impact on the shaping of the Indian civilization.
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