Aasif shafi

Photo Story: Martand Sun Temple, Then and Now

Photo Story: Martand Sun Temple, Then and Now
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The Martand temple is an ancient Hindu temple in the heart of Islamabad (Anantnag) , a southern most district of Jammu and Kashmir. It was built by the third ruler of Karkota dynasty , Lalitaditya Muktapida , in the 8th century CE. Martand is a Sanskrit name for Hindu Sun-God . It was dedicated to Surya (the chief deity in Hinduism).

The Martand temple by its location was built on top of the plateau with a purpose that one can view the whole valley from there. From the ruins and related archaeological findings, it can be said it was an excellent specimen of Kashmiri architecture, which had blended the Gandharan, Gupta, Chinese, Roman, Syrian-Byzantine and Greek forms of architecture.

The Martand temple by its location was built on top of the plateau with a purpose that one can view the whole valley from there. From the ruins and related archaeological findings, it can be said it was an excellent specimen of Kashmiri architecture, which had blended the Gandharan, Gupta, Chinese, Roman, Syrian-Byzantine and Greek forms of architecture.
Martand temple is most important and famous for many reasons. Its architectural ideals and designs of 8th century were in no way less to other world renowned ancient designs of Rome and Greek civilizations. The stone images and carvings of Godly figures are elaborately chiselled and richly designed. The site of the temple and its courtyard surrounded by volumes of colonnaded in Greek fashion shows that this structure was mix of many ancient building designs and art.

The temple has a arcaded courtyard, with its primary shrine in its center and surrounded by 84 smaller shrines, stretching to be 220 feet long and 142 feet broad total and incorporating a smaller temple that was previously built. The architects built this magnificent edifice in a unique way so that the sunlight would fall on the idol of Surya throughout the day. The inscriptions on temple walls depict Hindu Gods and Goddesses. Astrological notations are inscribed on the walls, which need a comprehensive study and documentation.

Martand maintains a great cultural and religious importance.` It was recently selected as a background for the song Bismil, on a popular Bollywood movie Haider, where it was shown as a place of evil which led to a great controversy.

Martand has been declared as a site of national importance by Archeological survey of india. It does not stand in its original form, the ruins speak volumes of historical changes that happened over the years. It stands as a mute spectator of time and yearns to see visitors.

Author is freelence photojournalist with various International photo agencies.

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