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Martand Sun Temple – Priceless Heritage of Kashmir

The ancient Martand Sun Temple, Kashmir
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Martand Sun Temple is situated at a distance of about 5 miles from Anantnag district of Jammu and Kashmir state. Martand Sun Temple, an ancient Indian architectural marvel and a paradise in its own right. With the mighty snow-clad mountains at the backdrop and nature’s beauty all around it truly deserves that title. Martand Sun Temple is a beautiful temple dedicated to Sun God Bhaskar.

Sadly, today the Sun Temple is more or less in ruins but this amazing monument has a very rich past. This temple has a story that is worth listening to.

It is very unfortunate that today, this magnificent temple is on the verge of decay.  Despite having huge historical, architectural and religious significance the temple has remained neglected till date.  

It is saddening to see such wonderful architecture lying in ruins. The intricate designs on the pillars, stone carvings are so beautiful that it makes me wonder why the authorities haven’t tried to restore this marvel of India?

History of Martand sun Temple

Before talking about written history lets talk about folklore and popular belief of locals about this historic site. The locals of Kashmir believe this temple has existed since the time of Mahabharata. As per them, this temple was the residence of the Pandavas.

However, written history more specifically Tareek –e-Hassan, the oldest history of Kashmir tells us that, somewhere between 370 – 400 C.Ea king named Raja Ranadatiya built a city called Babul on a plateau in South Kashmir. He decided to build Martandeshwari temple in front of his palace. The temple is said to have been completed by the king LalitadityaMuktapida between 725- 756 CE and was dedicated to Sun God and was named Martand Sun Temple. This magnificent temple was built on a mammoth scale.

The Martand temple was built on a plateau or Karewa (as it’s called in local language). It is said the temple was so big that it was spread on the entire plateau. Martand Sun Temple had immense amount of wealth back then, it was loaded with precious metals. The adornment of temple and deities was done with these precious metals.

The grandeur of temple was such that Hindus from all over India used to come here to offer the prayers in the biggest temple of India.    

Martand Sun Temple is considered the oldest and biggest Sun Temple in India. Including the magnificent ancient Sun temples at Modhera Gujrat and Konark Sun Temple, Odisha.

The Built and Architecture of Martand Sun Temple:

This temple is no less than a masterpiece. The architectural features incorporated in it are simply outstanding. There are many things that make Martand Sun Temple so significant. It is one of the oldest and biggest Sun temples of India Subcontinent.

The architectural style of this temple is like no other. Its architectural style reflects the blend of Greek, Gandharan, Roman, Chinese, Gupta and Syrian – Byzantine styles of architecture.

Centuries-old heritage, huge dimensions, architectural style and the Religious carved themes of the temple make it one of its kind and the only such temple in the entire Indian subcontinent. There are a total of 365 religious images that have been carved on the walls of the temple, one for each day of the year. These rich and elaborate carvings take the beauty of this temple to another level.

Special techniques used in Martand Sun Temple:

Martand Sun Temple stands as an example of the architectural brilliance of the 8th century, there are many unique elements in this remarkable structure. For example, the design of the Martand Sun Temple allows Sunlight tofall on the idol of the deity throughout the day. Another notable thing about this temple is that Martand Sun Temple faces west which is not only significant as per Hindu Scriptures.

Martand Sun Temple was a prosperous temple, that was famous in entire India Subcontinent. Visitors from far-flung places used to come here to witness its grandeur. Perhaps its grandeur and immense wealth ultimately became the reason behind its current state.      

View of famous architects on Martand Sun Temple:

The Martand temple is an exemplary structure representing Kashmiri Hindu architecture of the 8th century. It is admired by the architects and scholars worldwide for its marvelous architecture and craftsmanship of the 8th-century craftsmen.

Sir Alexander Cunningham a renowned British architect and scholar said: “The architectural remains of Kashmir are perhaps the most remarkable of the existing monuments of India”. And these truly are. Just one glance of this stunning piece of art will make you realize that.

Destruction of Martand Sun Temple:

A huge wealth of this temple attracted a lot of ill-willed people. Hence, over the years Martand Sun temple suffered many attacks. But the one that ruined it completely happened in the 15th century and was done by Muslim ruler Sultan Sikandar Butshikan (Butshikan meaning idol breaker). He was given the title of Butshikan for breaking a number of Hindu and Jain temples.

In the 15th century, Sikandar Butshikan attacked the Martand Sun temple. He plundered all the valuables out of the temple and then ordered its demolition which lasted over a year. It is said that his men informed him that even after 1 year the temple could not be destroyed completely. So, he asked his men to set the temple on fire. His people did as he said. The fire lasted a long time but even the fire could not destroy Martand Sun Temple completely.

But Sikander’s motive was completed, he managed to ruin the temple to great extent. Unfortunately, the temple was never restored and has been lying in the ruined state ever since.

The Temple today:

Sadly today, the temple is on the verge of decay.  Despite having huge historical, architectural and religious significance the temple has remained neglected till date.  

The remains of the temple do not fail to remind one of its previous grandeur. Though in ruins the temple still stands as an example of the marvelous architectural style of that era.

It is saddening to see such wonderful architecture lying in ruins. The intricate designs on the pillars, stone carvings are so beautiful that it makes me wonder why the authorities haven’t tried to restore this marvel of India.

Haider movie-Martand Sun temple controversy:

Bismil song of the movie Haider was shot in this. The song and the makers were criticized greatly for showing the temple as the den of evil.   

Martand Sun Temple – Current State:

Currently, the temple is at decaying state. But still, the remains of the temple do not fail to remind one of its previous grandeur. Even in ruins the temple still stands as an example of the marvelous architectural style of that era.

The ASI (Archaeological Survey of India) has declared this ancient Sun temple of Martand as the site of National Importance, it is also a centrally protected monument. The attempts made by these authorities to restore this site were clearly half-hearted. This is why our historical wonder is still lying in ruins.     

Wanderer’s comment:

Honestly, I haven’t seen anything quite like this in my life. Believe me, guys this place is magnificent beyond words. The architectural style of this temple is beautiful beyond imagination. Beauty and magnificence lies in every part of it.

Martand Sun Temple truly deserves much more. It’s astonishing how we have ignored something so magnificent.

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Ekaant

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