The Sun Temple at Martand is among the
most imposing ruins and was/is the largest Hindu temple in Kashmir. This historic
temple was built by Ram Ditya in the 5th century probably between 490 and 555
AD. The collonade probably dates back to 693-729 AD. It was further modified by King
Lalitaditya in the 8th century.
Temples were seldom exclusively places of
worship. They were also depositories of treasure, political statements which
embodied the ambitions of their royal patrons and on occation even military
strongholds. In the early 15th century the Hindu temple was destroyed by
The temple is dedicated to the
Sun or in Sanskrit, "Surya". The entrance of the Sanctum
Sanctorum is facing west, so the rays of the setting sun would touch
the the Surya idol which were inside, when the temple was in use.
The site has been escavated
and restored by
the English. Some idols were taken abroard, but there are
still quite a few idols in the SPS Museum in Srinagar.
The Sun Temple, which is
situated at a distance of
80 km from Srinagar, is from the
same period as the huge Avantiswami Temple in Avantipur, 29
km from Srinagar. Both temples show a distinctive Greek influence.
Old photograph of the
at Martand taken by John Burke in 1868