Sun Temple at Modhera, Gujarat

Sun Temples in India Sun has been revered since Vedic age with many hymns written for the celestial body. It is worshipped as Aditya or Surya. There are many rituals in practice for worshiping the deity. Many temples have also been constructed with Sun as the chief deity. Sun temples are even found in Japan, Egypt, China, etc. Some of the Rajput clans, namely “Suryavanshi”, worship Sun and claim themselves to be the descendants of the deity. Some of the major temples in India are:

Konark Sun temple

1. Modhera Sun Temple, Gujarat: The Sun Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to the solar deity Surya located at Modhera village of Mehsana district, Gujarat, India. It is situated on the bank of the river Pushpavati. It was built after 1026-27 CE during the reign of Bhima I of the Chaulukya dynasty. No worship is offered now and is protected monument maintained by Archaeological Survey of India. The temple complex has three components: Gudhamandapa, the shrine hall; Sabhamandapa, the assembly hall and Kunda, the reservoir. The halls have intricately carved exterior and pillars. The reservoir has steps to reach bottom and numerous small shrines.

2. Konark Sun temple, Odisha: It is a 13th-century CE sun temple at Konark about 35 kilometres (22 mi) northeast from Puri on the coastline of Odisha, India. The temple is attributed to king Narasingha deva I of the Eastern Ganga Dynasty about 1250 CE. Dedicated to the Hindu sun god Surya, what remains of the temple complex has the appearance of a 100-foot (30 m) high chariot with immense wheels and horses, all carved from stone. Once over 200 feet (61 m) high, much of the temple is now in ruins, in particular the large shikara tower over the sanctuary; at one time this rose much higher than the mandapa that remains. The structures and elements that have survived are famed for their intricate artwork, iconography, and themes, including erotic kama and mithuna scenes. Also called the Surya Devalaya, it is a classic illustration of the Odisha style of Architecture or Kalinga Architecture . The cause of the destruction of the Konark temple is unclear and remains a source of controversy.Theories range from natural damage to deliberate destruction of the temple in the course of being sacked several times by Muslim armies between the 15th and 17th centuries. This temple was called the “Black Pagoda” in European sailor accounts as early as 1676 because its great tower appeared black. Similarly, the Jagannath Temple in Puri was called the “White Pagoda”. Both temples served as important landmarks for sailors in the Bay of Bengal. The temple that exists today was partially restored by the conservation efforts of British India-era archaeological teams. Declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1984, it remains a major pilgrimage site for Hindus, who gather here every year for the Chandrabhaga Mela around the month of February

3. Brahmanya Dev Temple, Unao (Madhya Pradesh): The Balaji, a famous and rare sun temple with its own unique architecture, is situated in a small town of Unao in Datia district of Madhya Pradesh. The Balaji temple was built in the pre-historic time by the king of Datia. The Sun Temple at Unao in Madhya Pradesh is unique in its architecture. The Sun God is the main deity of this temple. The Sun God stands on a brick platform covered with black plates. Twenty-one triangles, representing the 21 phases of the Sun are engraved in the shrine. Here, special worship is offered on Sundays. Local belief is that worshippers find relief from skin ailments at this temple. The deity Balaji is very much famous for curing skin ailments. People from far distant places come and worship the deity. Below the temple, a river Pahooj is also flowing. There are some wells in the river, at the time of summer, people used to have bathe with the water in the wells. Sulphur content is found in the water of Pahooj river, which is helpful in treating skin diseases. It is said that if you have bathe in river and offer water to deity Balaji, all your incurable skin ailments will be cured within few days. Sunday is considered as the day of deity Balaji (Sun). All the inhabitants of Unao and the surrounding region has enormous faith in the deity and also have felt the power of it. Each family in unao have at least one member in government jobs.

4. Suryanaar Kovil, Kumbakonam (Tamil Nadu): Suryanar Kovil (also called Suryanar Temple) is a Hindu temple dedicated to the deity Hindu Sun-God, located in Suryanar Kovil, a village near the South Indian town of Kumbakonam in Tamil Nadu, India. The presiding deity is Suriyanar, the Sun and his consorts Ushadevi and Pratyusha Devi. The temple also has separate shrines for the other eight planetary deities. The temple is considered one of the nine Navagraha temples in Tamil Nadu. The temple is one of the few historic temples dedicated to Sun god and is also the only temple in Tamil Nadu which has shrines for all the planetary deities. The present masonry structure was built during the reign of Kulottunga Choladeva (AD 1060-1118) in the 11th century with later additions from the Vijayanagar period. Constructed in the Dravidian style of architecture, the temple has a five-tiered rajagopuram, the gateway tower and a granite wall enclosing all the shrines of the temple. It is believed that the planetary deities were cursed by Brahma to dwell in Vellurukku Vanam, the white wild flower jungle and were blessed by Shiva to make it their abode to devotees. The temple has six daily rituals at various times from 5:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., and two yearly festivals on its calendar. The temple is maintained and administered by the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department of the Government of Tamil Nadu.

5. Suryanarayana Swamy temple, Arasavalli (Andhra Pradesh): Arasavalli Sun Temple is a 7th-century AD Sun Temple at Arasavalli in Andhra Pradesh, India. It is situated in Arasavalli Village at a distance of 1 km east of Srikakulam Town. It is believed that the temple was built by king Devendra Varma, ruler of the Kalinga Dynasty. The temple is still being visited today and is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the town.This temple is considered as one of the oldest sun temples in India. The Temple was dedicated to the Hindu sun god Surya. The walls in the temple 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 a bit to help with some of the sun temple’s major flaws during their 18th and 19th century. A lot of these changes were contributed by the Dusi family. Over the years the sun temple has been an important landmark for many of the festivals celebrated in the town. Including the important festival Rathasaptami. The temple is very much recognized as a resemblance of magnificence and beauty. It takes in architectural skills of Vishwakarma Brahmins or Maharanas of Odisha. In the earlier parts of the day the temple is built to direct the sun’s light to fall on the feet of the lord Surya showing his importance and power.

6. Dakshinaarka Temple, Gaya (Bihar): It is said to be built by King Prataparuda of Warangal in 13th century AD. The deity is made in granite and the idol wears Persian attire like waist girdle, boots and a jacket. It has a Surya Kund (water reservoir) nearby.

Sun Temple at Martand, Kashmir

7. Navalakha Temple, Ghumli (Gujarat): Navlakha Temple at Ghumli was built by Jethwa rulers in 11th century dedicated to Sun god, Surya and is oldest sun temple of Gujarat. It has the largest base (Uagati) of the temples in Gujarat, measuring 45.72 x 30.48 m. Facing East, it had a beautiful entrance arch or Kirti Toran, that is now lost. The sanctum sanctorum (garbhagriha), covered pradakshina path, large gathering hall and its three shringar chokis are eye catching. On the surrounding walking path we find three directions with balconies. The mandapa has eight-sided pillars for support. In the small niches we find sculptures. The entrances are two storied. At the back wall of the temple we find two huge elephants fighting with their trunks. In Bhadra gavaksha there is the image of Brahma-Savitri, in the west is the Shiva-Parvati, to the north is Lakshmi Narayan. The Navlakha Temple built at a cost of Nine Lacs hence the name Navlakha. It rivals the Somnath Temple and Modhera Sun Temple in its architect and interiors. The temple is built in Solanki style of architecture and Maru-Gurjara style of architecture have the three entwining tusks of elephants as its trademark and is considered to be high noon of Solanki style of architect.

8. Martand Sun temple, Kashmir: The Martand Sun Temple is a Kashmiri Hindu temple dedicated to Surya (the chief solar deity in Hinduism) and built during the 8th century CE. Martand is another Sanskrit name for the Hindu Sun-god. Now in ruins, the temple is located five miles from Anantnag in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. It was destroyed during the sultanate of Sikandar Butshikan. The Martand Sun Temple was built by the third ruler of the Karkota Dynasty, Lalitaditya Muktapida, in the 8th century CE. It is said to have been built during 725-756 CE. The foundation of the temple is said to have been around since 370-500 CE, with some attributing the construction of the temple to have begun with Ranaditya. The temple was completely destroyed on the orders of Muslim ruler Sikandar Butshikan in the early 15th century, with demolition lasting a year.