Towering against the bright blue sky, the ruins of Martand sun temple are mesmerizing in their effect. Among the hill temples of India, Martand sun temple in Anantnag is also more important because of its picturesque location. Set against the backdrop of snow-capped mountains, the sun temple presents a different view in different seasons; come spring and the ruins welcome you with lush greenery and well-manicured flower beds all around while winter finds the magnificent ruins sprawling against a background of white. No matter which season takes you to the remnants of the historically and architecturally important Martand sun temple; the effect of being awestruck by its beauty remains the same.
Located near Anantnag in Jammu and Kashmir, the Martand sun temple is declared as a site of national importance by the archaeological survey of India. Anantnag is at a height of 5400 feet above sea level and about 33 miles from Srinagar city and easily approachable by road.
The Martand sun temple dates back to 370-500 AD when its foundation stone has been said to be laid. Lalitaditya Muktapida, king of Karkota dynasty built the temple during 725-756AD. The temple was constructed in honor of sun god as the king himself belonged to the solar dynasty. One of the rare architectural remnants of the era of Lalitaditya, the Martand sun temple is a fine example of Kashmiri architectural skill. The temple was destroyed by Sikandar Butshikan in early 15th century and the legend has it that it took almost a year for the whole temple to be destroyed.
Built with square limestone, the temple exhibits a unique architectural blend of Gandhara, Gupta, Chinese, Roman, Syrian-Byzantine and Greek forms. The temple has a principal sanctuary standing on a high plinth in a rectangular colonnaded court. This central sanctuary or shrine is 220 ft. long and 142 ft. broad surrounded by 84 smaller shrines.
The signs of destruction by Sikandar Butshikan are visible in the temple sanctum and the missing roof.
The immense doorway shrine consists of a trefoil arch set within a tall triangular pediment standing on engaged pilasters.
The Martand sun temple has been rightly quoted as “the most impressive and grandest ruins in Kashmir” by Henry Hardy Cole. The ruins give you a peek in the splendor of the bygone era and a superb view of the present day Kashmir valley!
How to reach
The nearest International airport is Srinagar from where Anantnag is at a driving distance of 66 Km. It is 237 Km from Jammu situated just after the Jawahar Tunnel.Buses from Jammu take about half a day.
Taxis can be hired from Srinagar which takes around 2 to 2 & a half hours.
Anantnag railway station is also connected with Kashmir Railway that runs from Baramulla to Qazigund.
Sleeping and staying
Hotel Alpine is a good option to stay in Anantnag. A number of restaraunts are available in the area serving local and Indian cuisine.