Sun Temples in India
Posted on October 25, 2019 by Ghoomophiro
Sun was one of the most worshipped gods in the ancient world. Whether it be Apollo of Greeks or ‘Sol Invictus’ of Romans or Ra in ancient Egypt. In Hinduism too, the Sun god Surya or Aditya occupies a prominent place. He had an active role to play in Mahabharata as the father of Karana. Several temples have been built to worship this source and sustainer of all life on Earth besides finding shrines in several temples dedicated to Shiva.
Unlike with other ancient civilizations mentioned above, the Indian Sun temples still attract faith and several pilgrims visit these temples and dip in the sacred tanks connected with them with belief that it would cure them of leprosy, blindness, skin diseases etc. Again, Sunday is the special day for worship and thus these temples are more crowded than is normal during those days. Besides being specimens of the brilliant architecture of ancient India, these temples are not without the cultural influence of other civilizations.
The remains of an ancient Sun temple are found at Martanda near Srinagar in Kashmir, so one wonders how many of the Sun temples have fallen prey to the tides of the time. The following ones though have survived:
Major Sun Temples
1. Konark Sun temple
A world heritage site and one of the Seven Wonders of India, Konark Sun Temple of Odisha is grandest and one of the best-known sun temples of India. Built in the shape of a gigantic chariot and stone wheels, first rays of sunrise strikes the principal entrance in the temple. This seven-hundred-year-old temple is the best product of Orissian religious architect. The very name of the town ‘Konark’ means sun. It is situated 64 kilometers from Bhuvneshwar and twenty miles from Puri
Labeled as the Black Pagoda by European travelers for its blacktop, the Konark Sun temple is the most famous landmark of Orissa state. It is designed in the form of the suns chariot drawn by the seven horses symbolizing the 7 days of the week. The twenty-four large and magnificently carved wheels symbolize the hours of the day. This temple dream child of the Ganga ruler Narasimha Deva is still incomplete. The main idol of the Sun God is said to have been removed by some Portuguese navigators. The temple now consists only of the sabhamandap and the natamandir as the main temple crumbled down many years ago. Despite having seen its best of days, the temple continues to inspire awe among art lovers from all over the world. When viewed from inland at the time of sunrise,, the chariot-shaped temple appears to emerge right from the depths of the blue sea carrying the sun.
How to reach Konark Sun Temple?
Take the bus ride from Bhubaneshwar ISBT. The distance is about sixty-four kilometers.
2. Sun Temple, Gaya
The Magdha region has been mentioned repeatedly in ancient epics for Sun worship. Dakshinaarka Sun temple in Gaya is one of the ancient Sun temples in India. The Dakshinaarka temple at Gaya in Bihar is one of the most Sun temples in India. Offerings are made by hundreds of pilgrims to their ancestors at Dakshina Maanas tank – one of several spots on this temple complex. What might interest you is the way Sun god is dressed in the central image with a belt and boots in somewhat West Asian style.
Please note that Dakshinaarka Sun temple is not the only Sun temple in the region. Gaya is home to at least two more notable Sun temples – the Uttaraka temple located near the Uttara Maanas tank and the Gayaditya temple on the banks of river Falgu.
How to reach Dakshinaaka Sun Temple?
Gaya is a major junction in itself for both road and rail transport. After reaching Gaya, take a taxi to reach the temple.
3. Modhera Sun Temple
Built-in 1026, Modhera Sun temple stands on banks of Pushpavati river in Mehsana district of Gujarat. The architecture of the temple is such that, as in the case with Konark Sun temple, the rays of the Sun would fall on the image of Surya at the time of equinoxes. The splendid Shikaras are unfortunates no longer survive but Torana, stepwell, Pillars, Garbhagriha and a tank in front still survive. The carvings on the outside are simply amazing and are the stage for Modhera dance festival. Like With the Sun god at Dakshinaarka temple of Gaya, the image here shows Sun god with a belt and boots.
How to reach Modhera Sun Temple?
From Gandhinagar, drive for eighty-four kilometers on Ahmedabad-Palanpur road to reach Modhera.
4. Surya Pahar Temple, Assam
This ancient temple complex situated near Goalpara town of Assam has several sculptures of twelve-armed Vishnu, rock-cut Shivalingas and remains of the Ganesha and Hari Hara. A circular tables with 12 images of Sun god in a circle with his father. Kashyapa in the center is enshrined here. This Sun temple despite its artistic brilliance is, unfortunately, one of lesser-known Sun temples of the country.
How to reach Surya Pahar Sun Temple?
Goalpura town is 157 kilometers drive from Dispur, the capital of Assam.
5. Suryanar Temple, Kumbakonam
Suryanar Temple or Suryanar Kovil Temple is the historic temple complex in Kumbakonam, Tamil Nadu. It enshrines all other planetary deities as well – Chandran, Angarakan, Brihaspati, Budhan, Sukran, Saniswaran, Rahu and Ketu. This Dravidian temple is at least eight centuries old and stands out from among the several hundred temples of the region.
How to reach Suryanar Sun Temple?
Drive 131 kilometers on National Highway 36 from Pondicherry to reach the holy town of Kumbakonam.
6. Surya Narayana Temple, Arasavalli
Shri Surya Narayana Swami Temple is located in Arasavalli in Srikakulam district of Andhra Pradesh. This magnificent temple is said to have been built by a Kalinga King and is really well persevered over 13 centuries of its existence.
How to reach Surya Narayana Temple Sun Temple?
Arasavali is connected with Hyderabad by airways, railways, and roadways. You can also drive to Arasavali from Hyderabad. Though the distance of 727 kilometers is too big.
7. The Bhramanya Dev Temple at Unao in Madhya Pradesh
The Brahmana Dev (Baramju) Sun temple is located at Unao near Jhansi in Madhya Pradesh. The stone idol of the Sun God in this temple stands on a brick platform covered with black plates. Twenty-one triangles that symbolize the 21 phases of the sun are engraved in the shrine. A brass cover protects this idol. This temple was patronized by the Peshwas. Besides Sun temple, you can also visit Balaji temple of Unao, another popular tourist spot of the region.
How to reach Bhramanya Dev Sun Temple?
Jhansi is a major railway junction. It is about a hundred kilometers from Gwalior on National Highway 44. Jhansi is connected to Lucknow by railways as well as roadways. The roadways distance is about 315 kilometers (National Highway 27). Jhansi is also at more or less same distance from Bhopal (National Highway 44). Besides the advantage of being closer than the other two cities mentioned, Gwalior also has the advantage of boosting its own Sun temple which is discussed below.
From Jhansi, Unao is another thirty kilometers on Balaji Unao road.
8. Martand Sun temple, Jammu
This ruins of this temple are just five miles from Anantnag city of Jammu. The word ‘Martand’ is another name of Sun god, Surya. The temple was destroyed by Sutan Sikander Butshikan. Despite being in ruins, it has been considered a national monument and protected by the government.
How to reach Mortand Sun Temple?
There is no direct public transportation to Anantnag from Srinagar. Instead, hire a taxi or drive for two hours on National Highway 44.
9. Sun Temple, Gwalior
Sun Temple of Gwalior has a design similar to that of Konark Sun temple and is a famous pilgrimage center.
How to reach Gwalior Sun Temple?
Gwalior is really well connected to the world via airways, railways, and roadways.
Minor Sun Temples
1. Sun Temple, Ranchi
Situated on Tata-Ranchi road, 39 kilometers from Ranchi, this beautiful Sun Temple is one of the best tourist attractions of Jharkhand.
How to reach Ranchi Sun Temple?
Drive for thirty-nine kilometers on Tata-Ranchi road.
2. Sun Temple, Katarmal, Uttarakhand
Situated in the thick deodars forest of Kumaon hills near Almora, this Sun temple has beautifully carved pillars and wooden doors. If you ever decide to see Nanital, then this beautiful sun temple is not too far away
How to reach Katarmal Sun Temple?
The temple is 80 kilometers drive on National Highway 109. The location itself is full of a natural tranquility. The beauty of location rivals that of Nainital.
3. Surya Narayana Temple, Domlur
Located just 8 kilometers away from Banglore, this Sun temple is a must-visit if you ever travel to Bangalore.
How to reach Suryan Narayana Sun Temple of Domlur?
Drive for eight kilometers on HAL old airport road and MG road to reach Suryan Narayana Sun Temple of Domlur.
If you are inspired to visit these Sun temples, we advise you to plan your visit on Sundays if it is for religious reasons and on other days to avoid crowd if you are attracted to the architectural beauty of these temples.