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Sun Worship in India
Abodes of Surya
Beliefs and Legends >> Surya

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.

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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 icon of the Sun. Mayura, who lived in the court of Harshavardhana (1st millennium CE) composed the Surya Satakam in praise of Surya and is believed to have been cured of blindness.

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. 

Sun temples in ancient days were known as Aditya Grihas. The traveller Ktesias mentions a site of sun worship in western India (400BC).

Sun temples across the subcontinent absorb the flavor of the region that they belong to. Dakshinaarka Temple in the Gangetic Plains (considered to be a site for making offerings to ancestors), Suryanaar Koyil in South India , Arasavilli and Konark on the East Coast of India, Modhera in Gujarat (Western India), Surya Pahar in North Eastern India and Unao in Central India are some of the well known sun temples of India.  

It should be mentioned here that remains of an ancient Sun temple are found at Martanda near Srinagar in Kashmir. It is said to date back to the first century CE. Ruins of a sun temple which attracted thousands of visitors in the 7th century CE are found in Multan in Pakistan.

Several temples dedicated to Shiva, feature a small shrine for Surya the Sun God. In addition, it is believed that Surya, the Sun God has offered worship at several of the shrines in Tamilnadu; many of these shrines have been designed in such a way that the sun's rays illuminate the sanctum (of Shiva) on certain days of the year. Several of the South Indian Temple Tanks also bear the name Surya Theertham or Surya Pushkarini.

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