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.
There are several temples enshrining the Sun God as the principal deity. There are several temples enshrining the Sun God as the principal deity. Many of these shrines have been designed in such a way that the sun’s rays illuminate the sanctum on certain days of the year.
1. Sun Temple, Modhera, Gujarat
This grand temple, built in 1026 AD by King Bhimdev of the Solanki dynasty, has a huge tank in the front of the structure with its multitude of images. It was designed in a way that the rays of the Sun fall on the image of the Surya at the time of the equinoxes.
2. Sun Temple at Konark, Odisha
The Konark Sun Temple is a 13th-century Hindu temple dedicated to the sun god. Shaped like a giant chariot, the temple is known for the exquisite stone carvings that cover the entire structure.
3. Martand Sun Temple, Anantnag, Kashmir
Built in 8th century, the temple is believed to be completed by king Lalitadatiya Muktapida of Karakota dynasty. It was an example of Kashmiri architectural skill. It was destroyed by Islamic ruler Sikandar Butshikan in 15th century and is now in ruins.
4. Brahmanya Dev Temple, Unao, Madhya Pradesh
Sun god’s idol at this temple stands here on a brick platform covered with black plates. Twentyone triangles representing the 21 phases of the sun are engraved in the shrine. This temple near Jhansi was patronised by the Peshwas and the ruler of Datia, 69 km from Gwalior.
5. Dakshinaarka Temple, Gaya, Bihar
The granite image of Sun god worshipped here wears a jacket, a waist girdle and high boots as in the Iranian tradition. It has a tank where offerings are made to the ancestors. The present structure dates back to 13th century, built by South Indian emperor Prataparudra of Warangal.
6. Sun Temple, Surya Pahar, Assam
A relatively modern structure, this temple has a circular stone tablet with 12 images of Surya with his father, Kashyapa. Surya pahar is referred to as virtual gallery of archaeological remains as it also has rock cut figures of artistic merit.
7. Navlakha Temple, Ghumli, Gujarat
Navlakha Temple at Ghumli was built by Jethwa rulers in 11th century dedicated to Sun god, Surya and is oldest sun temple of Gujarat. It has the largest base (Uagati) of the temples in Gujarat, measuring 45.72 x 30.48 m. Facing East, it had a beautiful entrance arch or Kirti Toran, that is now lost.
8. Suryanar Kovil, Kumbakonam, Tamil Nadu
Built by King Kulothunga Chola I in 1100 AD, the Dravidian style temple enshrines the sun and eight other celestial bodies. It has an elaborate worship protocol as the worship ends with visitors circumambulating the temple nine times.
9. Katarmal Sun temple, Uttarakhand
Constructed by the Katyuri Kings in the 9th century CE Katarmal Sun temple is regarded as the second most important Sun temple in the country after Konark. The intricate sculptures add to the beauty of the temple. It also houses 45 smaller shrines.
10. Vivasvan Sun Temple, Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh
Dedicated to Lord Sun, Vivaswan temple is built of red sand stone by G.D. Birla in the year 1988. The temple is inspired from the Konark temple and look like Konark temple.