Martand Sun Temple
The Martand Sun Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to Surya (the chief solar deity in Hinduism) and built during the 8th century CE. Martand is another Sanskrit synonym for Surya. Now in ruins, the temple is located five miles from Anantnag in the Indian union territory of Jammu and Kashmir. The temple was destroyed on the orders of Sultan Sikandar Butshikan, as part of his efforts to forcibly convert Kashmiri people to Islam.
|Martand Sun Temple|
Martand Surya Temple
Martand Sun Temple Central shrine
|State||Jammu and Kashmir|
|Completed||8th century CE|
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 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, Chinese, Roman, Syrian-Byzantine and Greek forms of architecture.
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.
Portrayals in Popular CultureEdit
- 1970: Bollywood movie Man Ki Aankhen starring Dharmendra and Waheeda Rahman has Martand Temple as background for the Rafi-Lata song Chala Bhi Aa Aaja Rasiya.
- 1975: Bollywood movie Aandhi starring Sanjeev Kumar and Suchitra Sen has Martand Temple as background for the Kishore-Lata song Tere Bina Zindagi Se Koi Shikwa Nahiin.
- 2014: Martand Temple was selected as the background for the song Bismil, in the popular Bollywood movie Haider. The movie is modelled on Shakespeare's Hamlet in the backdrop of Kashmir conflict. In the movie the temple was shown as a place of evil. This partially led to the controversy surrounding the movie. Anupam Kher criticised director Vishal Bhardwaj for shooting the Devil’s Dance sequence in the temple, resulting in humiliation to Kashmiri Pandits.
Site of National ImportanceEdit
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 Martanda (Sun Temple).
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Kashmir's conversion to Islam on a large scale also dates from the beginning of the fifteenth century....However, it was during the reign of Sikandar Butshikan (1394-1417), that the wind of Muslim proselytization blew the strongest. He invited from Persia, Arabia and Mesopotamia learned men of his own faith; his bigotry prompted him to destroy all the most famous temples in Kashmir - Martand, Vishya, Isna, Chakrabhrit, Tripeshwar, etc. Sikandar offered the Kashmiris the choice between Islam and death. Some Kashmiri Brahmans committed suicide, many left the land, many others embraced Islam, and a few began to live under Taqiya, that is, they professed Islam only outwardly. It is said that the fierce intolerance of Sikandar had left in Kashmir no more than eleven families of Brahmans. ...By the time of Akbar’s annexation of Kashmir (C.E. 1586) the valley had turned mainly Mohammadan. When Father Xavier and Brother Benedict went to Kashmir with Akbar this is what they learnt: “In antiquity this land was inhabited by the Moors, possibly a reference to Timur (contemporary of Sikandar the Iconoclast), and since then the majority of the people accept Islam.” When Kashmir was under Muslim rule for 500 years (1319-1819) Hindus were constantly tortured and forcibly converted.
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