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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“Where the mind is without fear

and the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up

 into fragments by narrow domestic walls;
Where words come out from the depth of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches

 its arms toward perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost

 its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is led forward

by thee into ever-widening thought and action -
Into that heaven of freedom,

My Father, let my country awake.” …………….( Rabindranath Tagore..Gitanjali)

 Polymath, poet, author, painter - Rabindranath Tagore left a deep impact, not just in India but across the globe. The first non-European to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature, 'Gurudev', as he came to be known was born to Debendranath Tagore, a religious reformer and member of the Brahmo Samaj, and Sarada Devi. In addition to his several literary works, Tagore also wrote the National Anthems for, both, India and Bangladesh.

 Tagore received Nobel Prize in 1914. This was a hectic year for the poet. He visited many places lecturing and meeting students, writers and people in general. In early 1915, he wrote his famous play Phalguni (The Cycle of Spring) and one of his major novels Ghare- Baire (The Home and the World). He was knighted in 1915 ( he resigned the honour as a protest against British policies in India.).He had hectic sessions at Shantiniketan where his play Phalguni was staged and he played the role of the blind Baul. He also wrote about 100 songs in 1915. He suggested that he should take a break and move to some hill station. And Tagore decided to go to Kashmir. 

In October 1915, Rabindranath Tagore visited Kashmir for a fortnight’s holiday. He was accompanied by Bengali poet Satyendra Nath Datta, his son Rathinder Nath and Pratima Devi. He was simply captivated by the beauty of the valley, especially the autumn season. Quite often, he would sit on the banks of River Jhelum in thoughtful silence. To a friend, he wrote that River Jhelum was like his native Padma. He started composing the famous Balaka ( Flight of Cranes )series of poems in Kashmir.

 The Kashmir invitation was extended to Gurudev by a senior Bengali officer, Jagdish Chander Chatterji who worked as Superintendent of the State Research Department during Maharaja Partap Singh's rule. All the arrangements were made by the said official and his dedicated team in Srinagar. Gurudev’s party arrived via Rawalpindi and stayed in the houseboat "Paristaan" moored on the banks of the Dal Lake in Srinagar. Later, Gurudev and his family shifted to another houseboat located on the banks of the Jhelum River.

 Gurudev visited many places in Kashmir . He also visited King Lalitaditya’s Martand Sun Temple. Dina Nath Hanjura, principal of DAV School, Rainawari once told us in our class that Gurudev Tagore had praised the intellectual loftiness of King Lalitaditya of Kashmir by looking at the location and grandeur of the Martand Temple ruins in Kashmir. And again Badri Nath Sidda, a learned Purohit from Mattan had informed me in 1988 that his Yejmaan Bahi ( patrons record register) had signatures of a Mahatma from Bengal named Rabindranath Tagore who had visited Martand Teertha of Kashmir in 1915. Mahatama Tagore is  Gurudev Tagore .

 While in Kashmir, Gurudev’s  literary work was disrupted by the people  who would come to meet him . He also accepted an invitation from Pandit Anand Kaul for a dinner at his downtown, Zainakadal residence in Srinagar city. Apart from being a writer, Anand Kaul worked as Sheriff in the office of Raja Amar Singh's Council of Regency and later President of Srinagar Municipality from 1914 to 1917. He was a scholar and a historian who had published some books through the Asiatic Society of Bengal. Master Zinda Kaul and Pandit Anand Koul brought Gurudev in a Tonga for  the dinner and the literary meeting. The host had organized  a lavish non-vegetarian dinner(that included Roganjosh,Yakhni,Mutsch,Kabargaah and fish ) for Gurudev and the guests. Tagore used to have non-vegetarian food  on a regular basis. Being born in a Brahmo landlord family and having exposure to European and other cuisine, he was quite open -minded about food. He used to love different types of fishes specially Hilsa and prawns. Many people say that Kashmiri poet Mehjoor was also present in this gathering but this needs some authentic confirmation. Cinema actor Balraj Sahni was a great admirer  of Mehjoor’s poetry  and it was he who introduced Mehjoor to the world. In 1938 Sahni wrote an article titled,’ Mehjoor, Poet of Kashmir’ in Vishwa Bharti’s quarterly magazine edited by Rabindranath Tagore .  In 1972 Sahni was instrumental in making a biographical film by the name of ‘Shayar-e-Kashmir Mehjoor‘ which was directed by Prabhat Mukherjee. The film starred Parikshat Sahni as Mehjoor and Balraj Sahni as Mehjoor’s father.May be Gurudev came to know Mehjoor through this link. In his interview with Prof V S Naravane, Master Zinda Kaul has not confirmed Mehjoor's presence in Pandit Anand Kaul’s house. In this poetic gathering, Tagore advised Kashmiri poets to be careful about the choice of their themes. Apart from enjoying a Kashmiri dinner at Pandit Anand Kaul’s residence, Tagore also desired to have some books on Kashmir’s Shaivism from Pandit Anand Kaul. A poetic gathering was also held in the house of Pandit Anand Koul. Many young poets joined this gathering and Gurudev was amused to listen to the Kashmiri poems. These poems were translated into English by Pandit Anand Koul and copies of the English translation were provided in advance to Gurudev. Master Zinda Kaul also participated in this poetic gathering.

 Gurudev also helped his nephew Abanindranath Tagore who accompanied him to paint some views, especially the paintings depicting Ashoka sitting atop Shankaracharya hill and looking at Hariparbat, Shahjajan in Shalimar garden during night, Chashm e Shahi garden, Nishat garden, Nasim Bagh and some more. Abanindranath Tagore is credited with the founding of the Bengal School of Art. This movement revolted against the western style of painting and sought to revive ancient and medieval Indian traditions of painting. Abanindranath was  the creator of a new national vocabulary in art and he helped to regenerate the decadent art and aesthetic scene in India. The Indian Society of Oriental Art was established to promote the Abanindranath-style on the national plane. It was Abanindranath who ushered in the modem art movement in Bengal. It was his brush, which first gave convincing proof that the Indian artist had his own contribution to make to the world of painting. With these paintings and the Balaka series of poems, Kashmir was showcased to the Bengali elite for the first time.

 At the invitation of I K Sharga ( a Kashmiri Pandit from Lucknow and the then principal of  S P College, Srinagar ), Gurudev also addressed students and intellectuals inside the S P College auditorium. Pandit Samsar Chand Koul Ganhar (well-known bird watcher, writer and a teacher in Mission School, Fateh Kadal, Srinagar ) also visited Gurudev while he stayed in the houseboat ,Paristaan . Pandit Samsar Chand requested Gurudev  for a visit to  Mission School ,Fateh Kadal to address the students. Gurudev expressed his inability and told him that he had a hectic and busy schedule. He invited Pandit Samsar Chand Koul and the boys of the Mission School, Fateh Kadal  to SP College where he addressed a gathering of the students, teachers and intellectuals and also sang verses from his book Gitanjali.




(The house of Pandit Anand Koul Bamzai ( writer , historian and administrator ) in downtown Zainakadal ,Srinagar, Kashmir where Gurudev Tagore met Kashmiri poets  sometime in October 1915.)
                                (  A Paintings done by AbanindranathTagore in Kashmir )
                                      (  A Paintings done by AbanindranathTagore in Kashmir )

 Kashmir remembered Gurudev’s visit when in 1958, Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad decided to name the newly built Cultural Complex in Wazir Bagh as ‘Tagore Hall’. This was possibly a humble tribute to Gurudev who had many admirers in the J&K state. About his visit and getting inspiration in Kashmir to write the Balaka series ( poems), Gurudev writes this:- 

 " My coming to Kashmir has helped me to know clearly what I want. It will likely become obscured again when I go back to my usual routine; but these occasional detachments of life from the usual round of customary thoughts and occupations lead to the final freedom – the Santan, Sivam, Advaitam. I was in Kashmir. One evening, I sat by the River Jhelum. There was stillness all around. I felt like I was sitting beside the Padma. Of course, when I lived on the Padma, I was a young man, now I am old. Yet that difference seemed to have been wiped out by some link transcending time. A flock of geese flew over my head across Jhelum. I seemed to hear some ineffable call, and be led by its impulse to some far journey..I heard the many voiced words of man wing along unheeded ways, from the faded past to far off future dim, I heard within myself the sound of this homeless bird winging with countless other birds from shore to shore through daylight and darkness. Space echoes with the song of all creation’s wings: ‘Not here! Elsewhere! Elsewhere! Somewhere else! "

 The flight of the flying geese ( Balaka ) in the sky is indicative of the larger freedom man longs for but cannot attain. The wings of a home-seeking bird in the dusk remind the poet  of the sweeping energy of human love and God being the centre of the unattainable.The birds seem to give the eternal message to the poet.  Balaka or  “The Flying Geese”, the title word usually means a heron; but the poet points out that it refers to a flock of flying geese. I add a poem from the Balaka series of Gurudev:- 


“O flying geese,

 Your wings are maddened by the tempest’s wine:

 With the resounding laughter of piled-up joy,

 Rising waves of wonder, beat along the sky.

 The rush of wings rose around,

 A dancing nymph composed of sound,

 Breaking the meditation of the silence.

 The mountains sunk in gloom

 Suddenly shuddered, and the deodar woods.

  felt the message of those beating wings

 For instant bring

 The impulse of motion to the enraptured depths

 Of all that’s immobile.

 …Of mountains, and this forest, fly from strange

 To strange realm, isle to isle

 The pulse of the stars’ flight

 Starlets the dark with the sound of weeping light.

 I heard the words of men flying in the flocks

 Along invisible tracks

 From the dim past to some new unformed age.

 Night and day in my heart have I heard

 With countless other birds, this

 Relinquishing its nest, through light and darkness go –

 From what shore to what shore?

 The infinite’s wings send out their song through space:

 Not here but elsewhere, elsewhere– in some other place.”


(Avtar Mota ) 


Dr Vishwanath S. Naravane was a reputed teacher at Allahabad University and taught there for twenty years. In 1965, he joined the Department of Philosophy at, the University of Pune. He was a visiting professor at several universities in the U S. In addition to philosophy and religion, Dr Naravane taught courses in Indian history, art and literature. He was an admirer of Master Zinda Koul's poetry that he had read through the translation. He came to Srinagar and did an extensive interview with Master Ji in his house. This interview was published in some national magazines then.

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