The Surya Pahar hill in the vicinity
of Golapara (on the Dobapara road) in Assam is literally a art gallery of
Indian sculpture. Ruins of several old temples are scattered all over the hill. This hill
is also the seat of a small modern sun temple.
worship in Assam (as in other parts of India) goes back to ancient times.
Assam has been referred to as Pragjyotishapura. According to the Kalika Purana
of the 10th century CE, Bhrahma created Pragjyotishapura, as a city equal
to the city of Indra the King of the Gods. The word Prag refers to the Eastern region and
jyotisha refers to the word star-astrology. Pragjyotisha is also said to
mean, 'eastern city of astrology'. To the east of Guwahati, there is a hill temple known
as Citracala, dedicated to the Navagrahams or the nine celestial bodies.
The Surya mandir on Surya
Pahar is a modest structure and it enshrines a circular tablet, four
and a half feet in circumference with carved images representing the various celestial
bodies including Surya.
The centermost figure in this sculpture is enclosed
within an inner circle. The centermost figure is surrounded by 12 miniature
figures in a seated posture. The centermost figure is Kasyapa muni (also
considered to be Prajapati or the creator) , and the 12 figures around this figure are
referred to as the 12 Suryas - sons of Kasyapa and Aditi.
Surya Pahar is an interesting
archeological site, as several rock cut figures are seen here. Several granite Shiva Lingams are seen in the vicinity
of the hill. Legend has it that there were once about a 100 000 Shivalingams here, as they
had been installed with a idea of making this town second to none other than Benares as a pilgrimage site.