The Gupta Empire brought consolidated control of the northern part of the Indian subcontinent in the third through fifth centuries CE. This control extended into the Himalayas. Royal and elite authority was strongly associated with Hindu religion, and stratification into the caste system that remained dominant for centuries was incorporated into the religious beliefs and practices. Militarism and an associated warrior caste were crucial to the empire’s success in expansion and continued defense of the conquered territories. This era also saw continued Buddhist influence.
Following establishment by the first king, Gupta, significant rulers included Chandragupta and Vikramaditya (also called Chandragupta II). Advances in science, literature, and the arts also characterize the era, which is often referred to as India’s Golden Age or classical period of ancient civilization. Significant achievements were commemorated by Kalidasa, who wrote in Sanskrit. Extensive trade was conducted with the rest of South Asia
Under Vikramaditya, who ruled from 375 until 415, architectural and artistic creations, including the Hindu Dashavatara Temple, were greatly advanced. Religious tolerance was also characteristic; other significant religions included Jainism and especially Buddhism. Under the next king, Kumaragupta I, who ruled until 455 CE, Buddhist establishments flourished. In particular, the Nalanda university was established, which subsequently became the most important center of Buddhist teachings in India.