The Martand Sun Temple is a Hindu temple located near the city of Anantnag in the Kashmir Valley of Jammu and Kashmir (union territory), India. It dates back to the eighth century CE and was dedicated to Surya, the chief solar deity in Hinduism; Surya is also known by the Sanskrit-language synonym Martand (मार्तण्ड, Mārtaṇḍa). The temple was destroyed by Sikandar Shah Miri.

According to Kalhana, the Martand Sun Temple was commissioned by Lalitaditya Muktapida in the eighth century CE.According to Jonaraja (fl. 1430) as well as Hasan Ali, the temple was destroyed by Sikandar Shah Miri (1389-1413) in a zeal to Islamise the society under the advice of Sufi preacher Mir Muhammad Hamadani; Jonaraja pinned the blame on his chief-counsel Suhabhatta, a Brahman neo-convert who was held to have manifested a reign of intense persecution for the local Hindus whereas Ali particularly affirmed Sikandar’s own convictions in these aspects.

Scholars caution against accepting these sources at face value — Jonaraja was appointed by Sikandar’s son, who sought to bring back the Brahminical elite into the royal fold while later Muslim chroniclers had their motives to fit the past into an idealist tale of orthodox Islamic morality. According to Chitralekha Zutshi and Richard G. Salomon, Sikandar’s policies were guided by realpolitik and, like with the previous Hindu rulers, an attempt to secure political legitimacy by asserting state power over Brahmans and gaining access to wealth controlled by Brahminical institutions. J. L. Bhan notes a stone sculpture—a four-armed Brahma, sculpted by son of a Buddhist Sanghapati and dedicated to Sikandar—to challenge simplistic notions of religious persecution. Slaje disagrees about an absence of religious motivations but notes the aversion of Brahmin chroniclers to be, largely, the result of resistance to the gradual disintegration of caste-hierarchy under Muslim influence.

The Martand temple was built on top of a plateau from where one can view whole of the Kashmir Valley. From the ruins and related archaeological findings, it can be said it was an excellent specimen of Kashmiri architecture, which had blended the Gandharan, Gupta and Chinese forms of architecture.
The Archaeological Survey of India has declared the Martand Sun Temple as a site of national importance in Jammu and Kashmir. The temple appears in the list of centrally protected monuments as Kartanda (Sun Temple).

The temple has a colonnaded courtyard, with its primary shrine in its center and surrounded by 84 smaller shrines, stretching to be 220 feet long and 142 feet broad total and incorporating a smaller temple that was previously built. The temple turns out to be the largest example of a peristyle in Kashmir, and is complex due to its various chambers that are proportional in size and aligned with the overall perimeter of the temple. In accordance with Hindu temple architecture, the primary entrance to the temple is situated in the western side of the quadrangle and is the same width as the temple itself, creating grandeur. The entrance is highly reflective of the temple as a whole due to its elaborate decoration and allusion to the deities worshiped inside. The primary shrine is located in a centralised structure (the temple proper) that is thought to have had a pyramidal top – a common feature of the temples in Kashmir. Various wall carvings in the antechamber of the temple proper depict other gods, such as Vishnu, and river goddesses, such as Ganga and Yamuna, in addition to the sun-god Surya.

Thanks for reading.



The Durga temple is an early 8th-century Hindu temple located in Aihole, Karnataka, India. Originally dedicated to Surya, it has the most embellished and largest relief panels in Aihole depicting artwork of Shaivism, Vaishnavism, Shaktism and Vedic deities. Apart from its fine carvings, it is notable for its apsidal plan – a rare example among early Chalukyan Hindu temple architecture. Though dedicated to Surya, the temple is now named Durga because a durg or fortified lookout was constructed on top of it after the 13th-century during the wars between Hindu kingdoms and Islamic Sultanates. This rubble lookout survived through the 19th-century when this site was rediscovered (it is now gone, temple has been restored). The Durga temple is the most prominent attraction in Aihole for tourist and scholars. It is a part of a pending UNESCO World Heritage Site application.

The temple has been dated between the late 7th century and early 8th-century of the early Chalukya dynasty. According to Dhaky and Meister – scholars of Indian temple architecture, an inscription discovered in the 1970s confirms that this temple was originally dedicated to Surya, built by someone named Kumara, but does not include a date. On paleographic grounds, the inscription cannot be later than c. 700 CE.

The Durga temple at Aihole has been a subject of much debate and several wrong theories since it discovery. Gary Tartakov, a scholar of Architecture and Archaeology, has published a lengthy and detailed historiographic review of how it has baffled scholars, been misidentified and how some have wrongly accused early Hindus of appropriating a temple that did not belong to them. The ruins of Durga temple were re-discovered by Briggs – a British artillery officer in early 1860s. Briggs sensed the significance of its art and structure, took the earliest photographs and published them as “Shivite temple in Iwullee”. Shortly thereafter, James Fergusson announced it was “a Buddhist monument” because of its apsidal shape. Fergusson further speculated that it is an example of “inglorious, structural version of a Buddhist caitya hall” that was “appropriated by Brahmanical Hindus”. Thus began the long presumed exclusive association of apsidal plan architecture as Buddhist. As other scholars visited and examined other evidence such as the extensive reliefs and panels, the understanding and theories about the Durga temple evolved. James Burgess posited that this must have been a Vishnu temple from the start, as there was no evidence of any Buddhist temple or of appropriation by the Hindus. Henry Cousens was the first to link to it Surya, but through Surya-Narayana (Vishnu). As the Aihole site was further explored, excavated, more thoroughly cleaned up and restored in the 1960s and 1970s, new inscriptions were among the discoveries. In particular, in the cleaned sections of the Durga temple in the 1970s, a new inscription, from c. 700 CE, was found. It was accurately translated by K.V. Ramesh in 1976, later by Srinivas Padigar. This inscription confirmed that the temple was built by Kumara for Hindu deity Aditya (Surya).

According to Tartakov’s detailed review of the Durga temple, the inertia of the historic interpretations and the repetition of “stereotyped information” from colonial era scholarship has perpetuated the misunderstandings. According to Sinha – a scholar of Indian architecture and history, instead of the evidence and science on the Durga temple, the original orientalist framework has continued its influence on the Indian authors. Tartakov states that the writing of history of Durga temple as Buddhist or Buddhist-inspired has become a folklore and received truth, no matter what the evidence in the temple and the site says. According to some scholars such as George Michell, writing before Tartakov’s book was published, this 8th-century temple plan derives from rock-cut chaitya hall tradition that existed about a 1000 years earlier in 2nd to 1st-century BCE Buddhist caves. This view has been contested by other scholars who have published their studies after the publication of the Tartakov’s book. For example, Himanshu Prabha Ray questions the process of continuity over the ten centuries gap, quotes earliest Sanskrit texts on temple architecture and archaeological discoveries of ancient and medieval apsidal Hindu temples in many states of India. According to Philip Harding, Durga temple takes the “form of an apsidal temple with inner and outer ambulatories — a form early researchers considered a derivative of Buddhist chaitya halls, but is now generally recognized as a traditional Brahmanical form”.

The Durga temple has an apsidal plan for its sanctum, one that fuses with a square plan for the mandapa. This design seems to have borrowed influences from early apsidal Buddhist Chaitya Caves such as the Karla Chaitya. It is the largest of a group of over 120 temples at Aihole and illustrates a mature example of the Badami Chalukya architecture. The architecture of the temple is sophisticated as it combines an apsidal plan for the sanctum (garbhagriya) with a non-apsidal Nagara-latina shikhara with roots in North Indian architecture. In other parts such as the mandapa, it uses a mix of rectangular and square plans, all fronted by a mukhacatuski-style entrance. It integrates an ambulatory passage within. This fusion of north and south Indian ideas on architecture is not disjointed, but one well integrated. For example, the adhisthana is formulated by a Nagara khura-kumbha, and the decoration with it is Dravida. The most original feature of the temple is a peristyle delimiting an ambulatory around the temple itself and whose walls are covered with sculptures of different gods or goddesses. The rounded ends at the rear or sanctuary end include a total of three layers: the wall of the sanctuary itself, the main temple wall beyond a passageway running behind this, and a pteroma or ambulatory as an open loggia with pillars, running all round the building. Stone grilles with various geometrical openwork patterns ventilate the interior from the ambulatory. The heart of the shrine (garba griha) is surmounted by a tower which announces the future higher towers shikharas and vimanas. The amalaka that once crowned the shikara is on the ground nearby (visible in top picture).

Thanks for reading.



Arasavalli Sun Temple is a temple for Lord Surya, the solar deity, at Arasavalli in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. It is located in Arasavalli Village 1 km east of Srikakulam. It is believed that the temple was built in 7th century CE by King Devendra Varma, a great ruler of Eastern Ganga Dynasty of Kalinga . The present structure is largely a result of 18th century renovations. The temple was built in Rekha deula style of Kalinga Architecture like Puri Jagannath temple of Odisha. This temple is considered one of the oldest sun temples in India.[citation needed] The temple is one of the two major (remaining out of three, as the third temple was destroyed by Sikandar Shah Miri) temples who worship Lord Surya in India. The other two are the Konark Sun Temple, Odisha and Martand Sun Temple, Jammu and Kashmir (union territory).

According to Padmapuranam, Sage Kasyapa installed the Idol of Surya at Arasavalli for the welfare of mankind. The Surya is of Kasyapasa Gotra. He is also termed a planetary King.

The walls are inscribed saying the creator of the temple was the ruler Devendra Varma, stating it was built in the time period known to them as the 7th century. The walls also state the temple was fixed and changed to help with some of the sun temple’s major flaws during the 18th and 19th century. Many of these changes were donated by the Dusi family.[citation needed] The temple fell into despair over the centuries and was reconstructed in 1778 CE by Elamanchili Pullaji Panthulu. Over the years the Sun temple was a landmark for many of the festivals celebrated in the town. Including festival Rathasaptami.

Thanks for reading.

Follow by Email