Sun Temple of Martand situated on top of a plateau away from prying eyes and with stunning views, is one of the most stunning architectural marvels in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The temple is located 9 km from Anantnag in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. The Hindu temple of Martand or, as it commonly called, Pandu-Koru, or home of Pandu and Korus—the cyclone of the east—situated on the highest part of a crave, where it begins at its bend with the mountains. Dedicated to the Sun God, one of the three major temples dedicated to the Sun God, the other- Konark in Odisha and Modhera in Gujarat. Now, none of the temples in use.
Significance of the Sun Temple of Martand
One of the oldest surviving temples in North India, the Martand Temple built by King Lalitaditya in Kashmir. Martand is another name for the sun god Surya and he was an important deity in the Vedic period. The worship of the sun continued in Kashmir until the god had lost his influence in the plains. The three largest temples of the Sun God are the Martand temple, the temple at Modhera in Gujarat, and the Ratha temple at Konark in Orissa. They all in ruins, and Surya, no longer worshiped much in India.
The architect of the Sun Temple of Martand
The ruins of the Sun Temple of Martand stand in solitary splendor in a valley near Matan village on the road to Pahalgam. With the sun rising from behind the snow-capped peaks to shine on the temple, it is a perfect place to worship the sun. Built on a high pedestal using huge blocks of sculpted limestone, it stands over a valley with a strange primitive power. Its hard stone walls and its courtyard dotted with broken stones and broken doors, in the darkness of the great ages, have worn out.
The temple itself is no longer more than 40 feet high, but its solid walls and bold outline, atop the curved pillars of the surrounding pillar, give it its grandest appearance.
The ancient stone walls of the roofless temple rise to the sky as if reaching the beneficial rays of the sun. And even though there is no symbol in the sanctum sanctorum, the temple still carries the fragrance of centuries of worship. The exact date of construction of this temple- the wonder of Kashmir is a disputed point of chronology; But the period of its foundation can be determined to be within the range of a century, or between AD 370 and 500 AD, the mass of the building now known as the Martand consists of an elevated central building, with a small separate wing on each side.
The entrance gate stands in a large quadrilateral, surrounded by a pillar of sloping pillars in the middle. The length of the exterior of the wall, which is empty, is about 90 yards; The front section is about 56 yards. All are in eighty-four pillars – a singularly appropriate number in the Temple of the Sun, if believed, the number eighty-four is considered sacred by Hindus, resulting in the product of the days in a week with the number of zodiac signs.
Although there is a dispute about whether the temple itself built by Ranaditya and the side chapel, or at least one of them, by his queen Amritaprakha. The date of Ranaditya’s reign is shrouded in some ambiguity, but it can be safely inferred that he died in the first half of the fifth century AD. The remains of the three gates that opened into the court now stand. The head of these fronts is towards Islamabad towards the west. It is also rectangular in its description and built with huge blocks of limestone, 6 or 8 feet in length, and one of 9, and of proportioned firmness with an excellent mortar.
The central building 63 feet in length and 36 in width. All temples in Kashmir alone, apart from the chamber or sanctum, have a choir and nave, called antarala and ardhamandapa in Sanskrit. The cave 18 feet square, only the sanctuary is completely empty. The two other compartments lined with rich paneling and sculpture.
As the main building is currently completely open, the original form of the roof can only be determined by references to other temples and the general form and character of the various parts of the Maratand temple. It hypothesized that the roof pyramidal and that the recessed chamber and the wings similarly covered. Thus, there must have been four separate pyramids, of which the top of the inner chamber should be the tallest. The height of its summit is about 75 feet above the ground.
The interior must have been as grand as the exterior. Upon ascending a flight of stairs, now covered with ruins, the sun-worshiper entered a highly decorated chamber. Covered by a pediment with a doorway on each side, containing a tricolor-headed niche, in which there was an idol of the Hindu triad. The interior of the roof can only be determined by conjecture, as there do not appear to be any ornate stones that can be definitively assigned to it. It suspects that Martand once had a roof. But the walls of the temple still standing. The only ones being the roof of the massive stone piles scattered on all sides.
How to Reach Sun Temple of Martand
Cabs can be hired from Srinagar to reach the mesmerizing ruins of the Sun Temple of Martand. The journey will take approximately one hour. The temple complex is easily accessible as it is located at Kehribal, about 9 km from Anantnag.
One can choose to take a one-hour taxi or cab ride from Pahalgam to reach the enchanting ruins of Kashmir.
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