The Martanda (Sun) Temple near Matan is another of the many hidden wonders of Kashmir. The first thought to cross my mind when I saw it: why is this not more famous? The Sun Temple in Konark in Orissa is known to all, and this one deserves no less attention. Again, well maintained by the ASI. I even found a guide who showed me around – here go some factoids he shared:
* Built by Lalitaditya Muktapada circa 724-61 AD.
* Devri stone used for construction – without any cement – all pieces interlock with one another.
* Has four gates, the main one was higher than the main shrine.
* Weather caused a lot of stones to erode; a fire had caused significant damage to the structure quite some time back.
* Surrounding villages abandoned and resettled thrice
* Images carved into the stones used in the temple include those of the rivers Ganga and Jamuna and Hindu Gods Brahma, Vishnu, Mahesh and Krishna.
* Platforms around the central shrine had smaller temples at one time.
* Water in pool comes through channels from Sheshnag, 50 kms (31 miles) away near Pahalgam.
* 84 rooms for stay make the perimeter of the compound.
* Foundation of the central shrine is 18 feet deep.
* There are earthen pots, 5” deep and 3.5” diameter sunk into the ground and were used for offerings and food.
Here is a fascinating bit: How did workers place such heavy rocks atop each other? They would place those at the ground level first, then fill the whole area with mud, roll the next set atop these, fix these and fill more mud. At the end of this entire exercise, all the mud was removed to unveil a new temple shining like the sun.
Getting there: The temple is located 4 km (2.5 miles) from Matan in Anantnag district. You will have to ask for directions – don’t get wrongly directed to a more recent Sun Temple in Matan itself.
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