Sunday, March 31, 2013





 “ The Munificent *(1) king built the Marvelous Temple of Martanda with Massive stone walls inside encircling Ramparts and a Township which rejoiced in Grapevines .”

( Rajatarangani of kalhana canto 192 Taranga IV )

 This is how  KALHANA  mentions the Grandeur  of this temple and attributes its construction to King Lalitaditya Muktapida .

Adds  Francis Younghusband in his Book  'KASHMIR'

“Martand has a very high place in the world's great architecutral designs. It is an example of not only the Kashmiri architectural skill but it has pride of having been set up at a fine spot which is prettier than the spots where Parthinan, Taj Mahal, St. Peters have been built. It can be considered either a representative of all such great buildings and monuments or a combination and sum total af all the qualities. It gives an insight into the greatness of the people of Kashmir……. In terms of beauty and strength and in grandeur it is next to Egypt and Greece. This temple has been built with strong and square limestones. The temple has received grandeur and beauty through the pillars of Greek pattern. It is now in ruins and there are many such ruins scattered in Kashmir. The very existence of this temple encourages man to carry out study of the skill and art of Kashmiris. Anyone bereft of the love of nature could not select such a special spot for the construction of the temple.. ”

About king Lalitaditya Muktapida  , Eminent historian  R C Majumdar writes in his book ANCIENT  INDIIA

“Lalitaditya  moved, with his victorious army, from Dardistan to Turkey. The entire area was rich in Kashmiri traditions and education because of the efforts of unlimited number of monks and Kashmiri people in towns of central Asia. It is not difficult to understand that Lalitaditya achieved an easy victory in this region. Kashmir, at that time, was the most powerful state. During the time of Lalitaditya its boundaries had extended from Tibet in the east to Iran and Turkey in the west and from Central Asia in the north to Orrisa and the seashores of Dwarika in the south.”

 To locate this Site one needs  to go  Google EARTH and zoom in on the site of The Martanda temple (coordinates Lat 33°44′44″N Long 75°13′13″E)  nine kilometres east-north-east of Anantnag District Headquarters.It is about 78 Kms from srinagar city on srinagar Pahalgham road . Infact Mattan village is situated on the main road but to reach MARTAND  temple ruins , one has to go 2 kms up from Mattan village to reach Ranbirpora village on the Mattan Karewa ( Plateau ) where the Monument is exactly located .One can travel from srinagar by a bus or taxi direct to MATTAN village.

 Built with 84 columns ,MARTAND  SUN TEMPLE  is a listed national monument protected by Archeological survey of India.


The Ancient  Temple Architecture of Kashmir  undoubtedly  bears  **(2)Greek  influence. This influence is starkly visible  in  the use of stone Pillars , Columns , Trefoiled  Doorways , Ornamental  fritters  , Geometrical designs especially the rectangle and  Triangles  , Images of Gods  Carved on stones and  Pediments . Kashmiri  Stone Architects made some amendments to suit Intense winters . This influence is clearly visible in Martanda  and  Awantipora  stone Temple Architecture   .The  majestic SUN TEMPLE of  Martand perched amidst the jungles in the plateau ( KAREWA ) of Mattan  in Anantnag District of Kashmir is also known as dream of stones. The temple is made of Devri stones carried possibly by elephants  . Elephants were seen in abundance in Kashmir till 11th centaury which fact is substantiated in some cantos of  Kalhana’s Rajatarangini.

This temple is  enclosed in a courtyard  of columns and Arches  forming covered passage all round it. .Like Chandrapida Vajraditya , illustrious king  Lalitaditya was a sun worshipper and   a Follower of Vaishnava cult  devoted to the worship of Keshva Vishnu.. Accordingly Many three faced Vishnu and some Chaturbhuja Vishnu  figures have been prominently carved on the walls of  this  Temple . A central Water Tank with narrow  water channels  are  existing to this day . In the right panel of the eastern wall of the   Ante chamber of this Temple , an   image of Aruna  carved discerningly is still visible . . Aruna , the charioteer of surya is  holding the reins of his seven horses.

.The outer dimension of this temple is approximately about 200 feet by 170 feet rising upto a height of 75 feet (approximate Measurements done by this writer  ). The inner MANDAPA measures roughly 18 feet by 18 feet . About 84 stone pillars Ten to twelve feet long in single piece have been used in the construction. Some of them are still erect and the remaining are broken and scattered inside the complex.

Unfortunately this 8th centaury Marvel  faced ***(3) Demolition   during the rule of Sultan Sikander (  1394-1417 AD ) of  Kashmir  . The Temple structure would have been  as imposing  as the Pyramids of GIZA or   ACROPOLIS OF ATHENS  had human hands not joined in its destruction.

( My special thanks  to the up loader of this photograph on the NET . I do not know the person but my due acknowledgements  to him for this grand upload. This photograph drawn by some unknown person/ Artist gives an idea as to how graceful  this majestic  Heritage Temple  would have been prior to its demolition.)

The temple offers a Panoramic view of Anantnag Area below the hill and the serpentine Lidder stream  flowing down below near BUMZOO village. The BHARG SHAKHA Goddess Temple overlooks this monument from a nearby Hillock. Close to the monument are two villages with PATHAN and SIKH settlements. The PATHANS live in WANTRAG village near this monument and speak Pushto besides Kashmiri . So do Sikhs speak PUNJABI ( Multani Type ) and live in a nearby villages called  RANBIRPORA  and CHITHI SINGH PORA .A pucca road from this monument goes to Achhabal or village BRAH and HARD  TUROO . The old MARTAND CANAL ( wherein the water from the lidder stream is lifted through Gravity system to irrigate this KAREWA or PLATEAU ) passes near this Monument and goes up to ACHHABAL ..............

On slope of vast and undulating plain 
 In solemn solitude, of noble art, 
The ancient ruins of Martand remain 
 Built for Sun worship on^e. Has the true 
part Of thy prone columns faded like a dream? 
 Engirdled by the everlasting hills 
Temple of the Sun! High radiant beam 
 Illumes this broken altar, and still fills 
These shattered halls at dawn with his clear 
light Though human hands may no more lovingly  
The Sun's pure glory is God's symbol bright. 
 Thus thy great destiny can never end: 
 Still eloquent of prayers, though stones decay 
And forms of ancient creeds have passed 
( *Muriel Talbot )
  • Muriel Talbot also known as Catherine or Mrs Percy Brown.   Muriel was the daughter of  Col.Adelberl Cecil Talbot  resident of Kashmir from 1896 to 1900. Catherine was a poetess who had lived in Kashmir with her father  four more than four years .She wrote many poems on the life of kashmiris and beauty of Kashmir which she published in 1921 in a book Titled  CHENAR  LEAVES       from Cacutta after her marriage to Dr Percy Brown.
  • Dr Percy Brown ( 1872-1955 ) was a British scholar , painter and Art Historian and writer who came to India and joined Royal Indian Education Service ( 1899-1927 )  as principal of Government  School of  Arts and Crafts  Calcutta . He wrote some  monumental  books on Indian architecture especially The Budhist style of construction . . After his retirement  , he   settled in kashmir and   moved to  live in  a houseboat named Catherine  parked  near Jhelum Bund  close to  the then srinagar Club . Dr Percy Brown  lies buried inside sheikh Bagh cemetery Amira  Kadal Srinagar .Percy Brown was  also the curator of Lahore Museum and principal of Well known Mayo College of Art Lahore (1899-1909..  
            (This s how Muriel Talbot or Mrs Percy Brown describes Martanda Sun Temple ruins of kashmir in her poem )                                                             

About two Kms Below the Martand Sun Temple ruins  lies the sleepy village of  MATTAN or BHAWAN where another small temple also known as Surya  Temple exists with a spring having gushing water full of Fish .This lower Surya  Temple  in Mattan village ( About 5 Kms from Anantnaag Town in south of Kashmir  ) is presently a TEERTHA for Hindus and often confused with the Majestic National Monument  uphill. This lower Surya  Temple is just 5 kms away from Ananatnaag town and falls on   Anantnaag  -Pahalghaam  road . The Surya  Temple in village MATTAN finds mention in NILMATA PURANA as a place for performing SHRADAAS (ceremony for the Dead ) by Hindus from northern part of the  country .


Apart from living in this area for about 3 complete years , I have also visited this site at least 7 times during 2008 to 2012 and have felt  that the structure needs immediate attention to save  it from Cracks , Erosion and Weathering .  A beautiful garden is maintained by ASI near the  Monument  but the main structure needs  extensive restoration and repairs. Any further neglect may deprive  posterity of this Grand Heritage  .

The photographs of  Martanda Sun Temple  have been clicked by me during my various  visits  . I have also uploaded three photographs of  the lower Spring temple known as Mattan or Bhawan Teertha. I conclude the post with lines from the celebrated  poem  “History ” by Bulgarian Poet  Nikola Vaptsarov  ( 1909-1942 AD )

“ For the hardship and affliction
We do not seek rewards,
Nor do we want our pictures
In the calendar of years.

Just tell our story simply
To those we shall not see,
Tell those who will replace us –
We fought courageously. ”

King lalitadittya Muktapida  ( Rule period 693 to 729AD ).Some Historians believe that the Temple structure was actually started around 370-350AD while a good number of Historians  believe that the structure was started by King Ranaditya  . Ranaditya is also known for building some VIHARAS in Kashmir.Walter Lawrence is of the view that the temple structure must have been started somewhere between 370 to 500 AD and completed during the reign of Lalitaditya Muktapida .

Presence of people of Greek origin  in kashmir during the rule of Ancient  Hindu kings  is confirmed from some  direct and indirect references in various books covering history of Ancient Kashmir . Well known Scholar and historian Dr Sunil Chandra Ray in his Book “ EARLY  HISTORY AND CULTURE OF KASHMIR ” writes

Kashmir came under  the occupation of the  Greek King MENADER . He was a devotee of Budha but afterwards left the throne and joined the SANGHA and at last became an ARHANT . He built a Vihara which came to be known as MILINDVIHARA  after the name of its founder ”
This Vandalism of  Martanda Sun Temple  during the rule of  Sultan Sikander of kashmir  is also  confirmed by various  Historians / Chroniclers  including    Jonaraja, Ferishta , Author Of  Baharistan e Shahi , Prof.Mohibul Hassan , Kashmir Historian Peer Hassan Shah ( Died 1898 ) , Walter Lawrence and many more . Adds  kashmir Historian  Peer Hassan Shah in his Book "Taarikh e Hassan"........

“In the first instance he turned his attention towards the Martanda temple built by Ramadeva (it was actually Lalitaditya who had built it) on Mattan Karewa. For one full year he tried to demolish it but failed. At last in sheer dismay he dug out stones from its base and having stored enough wood in their place set fire to it. Gold gilt paintings on its walls were totally destroyed and the walls surrounding its premises were demolished. Its ruins even now strike wonder in men's minds. ”

1        Rajtaringani of Jonaraja,
2        Rajtaringani of Kalhana translated by R S  Pandit
3          Baharistani - Shahi ( Translated from Persian by Sh K N Pandita ) .
4         “ Kashmir Under Sultans ” by Mohib ul Hassan
5        Valley of Kashmir ” by Walter Lawrence
6 “Tawarikh Farishta ” written by Muhammad Qasim Hindu Shah Ferishta ( 1560-1620) Translated by John Briggs .
7 “Tawarikh e Kashmir ” by Haider Malik Chadura Edited and translated by Razia Bano .
8   “Eminent Personalities of Kashmir ” by Krishan Lal Kalia .
9  “Ancient Greeks In Kashmir Evidences Of Ancient Greeks Found In Jammu Kashmir , Ladakh And In Its Frontier District by Iqbal Ahmed ( Dilpreet Publishing House (2011) Price Rs995.

( Autar Mota 31.03.2013 ... Time 11.15PM ... Good Night )

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  1. It's a Marvelous job to given such a info.....

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  3. Excellent information on Marthand. Most of it should also make it to Wikipedia.


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