Explained: How a Gupta era temple in Etah has put focus back on shankhalipi script

ForumIAS announcing GS Foundation Program for UPSC CSE 2025-26 from 26th June. Click Here for more information.

What is the News?

Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) discovered remains of an ancient temple dating back to the Gupta period (5th century) in Bilsarh village in Uttar Pradesh’s Etah district.

Note: The Bilsarh site was declared as a ‘protected’ site in 1928. Every year, the ASI undertakes scrubbing work at the protected sites.

What has the ASI discovered?

ASI has discovered two decorative pillars of an ancient temple dating back to the Gupta period (5th century).

The stairs of the temple had ‘shankhalipi’ inscriptions. The inscription possibly reads Mahendraditya which was the title of king Kumaragupta I.

This 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).

What is ​​Shankhalipi Script?
Shankhalipi Script
Source: Indian Express

Shankhalipi Script is also called a “shell-script”. It is found in inscriptions across north-central India and dates back to between the 4th and 8th centuries

It was discovered in 1836 on a brass trident in Uttarakhand’s Barahat by English scholar James Prinsep.

Moreover, the script is found to be similar to the Brahmi Script as both are stylised scripts used primarily for names and signatures.

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.

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. In fact, shell inscriptions are also reported in Indonesia’s Java and Borneo.

Source: This post is based on the article Explained: How a Gupta era temple in Etah has put focus back on shankhalipi scriptpublished in Indian Express on 16th September 2021.

Terms to know:

Print Friendly and PDF
Blog
Academy
Community