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Sun Temples in India
The Vedic scriptures of the Hindu religion refer to the sun as the store house of inexhaustible power and radiance. Ths sun god is referred to as Surya or Aditya. The Vedas are full of hymns describing the celestial body as the source and sustainer of all life on earth. The origin of the worship of the Sun in India is thus several centuries old.
References to sun worship are found in the puranas. The Ramayana speaks of Sage Agastya initiating Rama into sun worship through the Aditya Hridaya Mantra. The astronomer and astrologer Varahamirhira makes references to the intricacies of ceremonies connected with the installation of the Sun idol. It is also said that Iran was once a center of Solar worship and that some of the Magha priests of Iran had been brought to India to officiate in ceremonies.
The Dakshinaarka temple
at Gaya, Bihar
Sun worship in the Magadha region that encompassed Gaya has been mentioned in the Puranas and thus this temple is said to be of very ancient origin. The current structure dates back to the 13th century, where the South Indian emperor Prataparudra of Warangal in Andhra Pradesh is said to have built it.
The Sun Temple at Gaya faces east and is located close to the famous Vishnupaada temple where a footprint of Vishnu is said to be enshrined. To the east of the temple is the tank Surya Kunda. The temple is a simple and plain one, with a dome over it. The comparatively larger sabha mandapa stands in front of the sanctum. Massive pillars line the mandapa where there are graceful stone sculptures of Shiva, Bhramaa, Vishnu, Surya and Durga.
There are two other notable Sun temples at Gaya, namely the Uttaraka temple near the Uttara Maanas tank and the Gayaditya temple on the river Falgu.
Dev Temple at Unao in Madhya Pradesh
Sun Temple at Surya
Pahar in Assam
Temple near Kumbhakonam in Tamilnadu
temple at Arasavilli in Andhra Pradesh
The Sun Temple at
The black pagoda at Konarak is a grand and magnificient temple in the form of the suns charriot drawn by seven horses marking the 7 days of the week. The 24 huge wheels, magnificiently carved and decorated, mark the hours of the day. This temple was envisioned by the Ganga ruler Narasimha Deva and it was not fully completed. The main idol of the Sun God on which the suns rays fall in the morning is said to have been removed by some Portuguese navigators. The temple now comprises only of the sabhamandap and the natamandir. The main temple crumbled down many years ago.
Remains of an ancient Sun temple are found at Martanda near Srinagar in Kashmir. It is said to date back to the first century AD. Ruins of a sun temple which attracted thousands of visitors in the 7th century AD are found in Multan in Pakistan. Ruins of the sun temple at Madhera in Gujarat show a lot of Magha influence. The crumbling walls of the temple have representations of the sun god wearing a peculiar West Asian belt and boots as in the Sun temple at Gaya.
As with all other temples in India, mythological legends and beliefs are associated with each of the above temples. It is interesting to note that one of the beliefs shared by worshippers at these temples situated so far apart - is that visits to these temples followed by a dip in the sacred tanks associated with them would bring relief to believers ailing from blindness, leprosy and other skin diseases.