Fascinating Surya (Sun) temples of India - 02

Some aspects of Surya: 

01. The worship  of Surya, the Sun God, has been around for centuries in India and there are  many temples dedicated to him. 

02. In Hinduism the sun plays an important role  in various rituals. The spiritual and religious ritual  of  Surya Namaskaram is done in the early morning  by  devout Hindus across India. It is believed to be good for physical, mental and spiritual well being. 

03. From mythological point of view the Sun is the father of many sons notably  Manu (progenitor of the human race), Yama (god of the dead),  Ashvins (twin physicians to the gods), Karna (a great warrior in the Mahabharata; his mother was Kunthi Devi), and Sugriva (king of  apes in the Ramayana).

04. Sun's wife is  Sanjana (also called Saranya), the daughter of Vishwakarma. But his wife  unable to  bear the intense heat radiating from him. So she went back to her father's place where she was transformed into her shadow called Chaya to take her place.

05. God Surya  is  thought to ride his chariot across the sky toward northern hemisphere in the NE direction,  drawn by seven horses on a mission to remove the veil  of darkness.

06. The 7 horses  that pull the  chariot symbolize the 7 days of a week starting with Sunday, the day of Sun. Note Helios, (Greek: “Sun”) in Greek religion, the sun god, sometimes called a Titan  drove a chariot daily from east to west across the sky and sailed around the northerly stream of Ocean each night in a huge cup.

07. According some Puranic stories Surya is the son of  sage Kasyapa and his consort  Aditi (infinite Heavens);  some stories suggest he is the son  of Dyaus (Sky) and  others believe his father is Brahma.

 08. In the later interpretation of Hinduism,  God Surya was once ranked along with other deities such as  Vishnu, Shiva, Shakti, and Ganesha, and many temples dedicated to him are found throughout India. These five deities are worshipped by Hindus  in particular,  a group of Brahmans (priests), the Smartas.  A small group, the Saura sect, worships Surya as the supreme deity. 

09. Surya  is  invoked by most Hindus   especially through the chanting of  Gayatri mantra  daily at dawn and dusk. This specific mantra  is addressed to the Sun Go

Sun God and seven horses. .artmajeur.com

10. The seven  horses represent 7 colors in the rainbow. 

11. Surya's chariot has 12 wheels  which represent 12 Zodiac signs  symbolic of 12 months in a year. 

12. Makar Sankaranthi, Pongal, Ratha sapthami (7th day in the Suklapaksha of magha month marks the birth of Surya)  are well-known festivals. 


Modhera Sun temple, Gujarat: 

Modherea Sun temple, Gujarat.  historicaltimeofindia.blogspot.com

Modhera sun temple., Gujarat. timesofindia.indiatimes.com

Modhere temple tank, Gujarat. .heritagedaily.com

The Sun Temple  on the bank of the river Pushpavati at Modhera village of Mehsana district, Gujarat, was built after 1026-27 CE during the reign of Bhimadev solnki I of the Chaulukya dynasty. Not a functional temple, no  worship is offered and is being  protected as a monument of historical value by the ASI - Archaeological Survey of India.  Though in ruins,   three axially aligned parts - the shrine proper (garbhagriha;   square in plan) in a hall (gudhamandapa), the outer or assembly hall (sabhamandapa or rangamandapa) and a sacred reservoir (kunda; pushkarani in Tamil) are fairly preserved: Gudhamandapa, the shrine hall; Sabhamandapa, the assembly hall and Kunda, the reservoir which  has four terraces and recessed geometric steps. The tank was  originally fed by an underground spring. The reservoir - a sort of step well  has steps to reach the bottom and numerous small shrines. 

 Modhera Sun temple, Gujarat. Modhere temple

The  ceiling in the halls  with nicely carved exterior  is  supported by ornate  pillars. The dancing hall was built  in the third quarter of the 12th century along with  gateways, the porch, the doorframes of the temple and the cella during the reign of the Karna.  Built on a paved platform the Sabhamandapa and  Gudhamandapa appear to be  a separate structure. The sanctum has two cells, the lower one is for storage; the upper one, already caved in once had the main deity. The outer walls have decorations unlike the inner ones. 

The doorway is decorated with  well- carved figures of seated Surya in panels surrounded by dancers and amorous couples.  Unfortunately, all figures including those on the door lintel  are  either mutilated or  completely destroyed.

This place was once known as  Dharmaranya (according to the and Sri Rama, on the advice of sage Vasishtha, visited this place to get himself purified after the slaying of Demon king of Lanka Ravana. He did not wish to carry the sin of having killed Ravana whose father was a Pundit. He performed a  yagna to get rid of the sin. This place was called Sitapur, which later became  Modethera. The Solankis were believed to be descendants of Surya and they glorified this land soon after regaining control from Turkish invaders.    l

The temple i was designed in a way that the first rays of the sun fell on the idol of Surya, at the time equinoxes.  Every year, a dance festival is held with a view to preserving the age old ancient culture and tradition. Renowned artists travel from all over the globe to perform at this wonderful location.




The Suryanar Temple, near Kumbakonam, Tamil Nadu:

The Suryanar Temple  close to the temple city of  Kumbakonam, Tamil Nadu is quite popular across Tamil  Nadu and lots of devotees visit this temple.   

Suryanat temple, near Kumbakonam, TN holidify.com

The main deity in the sanctum  is Suriyanar, the Sun and his consorts Ushadevi and Pratyusha Devi.  What is special about this temple is, unlike other Surya temples, here there are separate shrines for the  other eight planetary deities, each facing different direction. One of the nine Navagraha temples in Tamil Nadu it is the only temple where the devotes worship all the planetary deities in one place on the temple premises. Another interesting fact is the presiding deity is not Shiva and the main sanctum/ garbagriha is for the Sun god - Surya. Legend has it that once all the nine planets were cursed by God Brahma  for assuming mystic power on their own to cure humans. They were sent to this place, once a white flower jungle. The planet gods prayed to God Shiva and he removed the curse and asked them to offer succor to those who come here with problems up to their neck.

Sun god with his consorts, Suryanar temple,TN,templenews.in/

Suryanar temple, near Kumbakonam, TN helloprabhu.com

Saptha Vigraha moorthis  are the seven prime consorts in all Shiva temples located at seven cardinal points around the temple and the main deity being Mahalinga Swamy temple at Thiruvidaimaruthur.

The temple made of brick-lime mortar with granite boundary walls  was built during the reign of Kulottunga Choladeva (1060-1118 CE) in the 11th century and additions were made during the  Vijayanagar period.  The main entrance tower -Rajagopuram is a 5 story structure.  This temple much older than the Konark temple of Odhiha was earlier known as Kulottungachola-Marttandalaya.



Sri Surya Pahar Temple, Goalpara  Assam:

Sri Surya Pathar, Goalpara, Assam, youtube.com

.Sri Surya Pathar, Assam. India tripadvisor.
Sri Surya Pathar temple is more an unexplored archaeological site in the state of  Assam  than a prarthana sthala. It  is a cultural heritage site dating back to 9th to 13th centuries CE forming  a convergence  of three  major religions  of the Indian subcontinent.  A proliferation of  innumerable sculptures, stupas and other relics points  to the influence of   Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism in NE part of India..

Sri Surya Pahar, 12 km SE of Goalpara in Assam is altogether in  a different terrain, a hilly one  scattered with  a labyrinth  of rock-cut deities, Shivalingas, votive stupas different religions'- Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism.  The fascinating fact is spread over an area of one kilometer, tone see  a profusion of Shiva Lingas (Lingam).The site on the hills (pathar) called  Sri Surya.

The common belief that  sage Vyasa had  99999 Shiva Lingas  engraved  here with a view to creating  a second Kashi (where there were 1,00000 Shiva Lingas) to make it  the holiest pilgrimage site in this region, has  neither historical nor factual evidence to prove it.    It  is true  this area is  still dotted with   hundreds of  Shiva lingas  of various sizes despite the time factor and  after centuries of neglect and pilferage. The exact number of lingams here is not yet arrived at by the ASI which is managing the site which is 132 km NW  of Guwahati. This site in Assam has to be studied in depth to unravel the mystery of thousands of lingams scattered on the hills here. 

 The ASI studies in the past brought to light  several  Shiva Lingas and a few houses at Sri Surya  confirming the  long-held view that there   existed the area around Sri Surya Pathar  a flourishing civilization  very close to the bank of Brahmaputra river. Obviously, it served as an important riverine port and  a seat of  administration

 This was in confirmation with the claim made by Chinese traveler Huen Tsang  that it was Sri Surya Pahar and not Guwahati that was the ancient land of Pragjyotishpur or Pragjyotisha  Kingdom, the capital of the Kingdom of Kumar Bhaskara Varman (600-650). The findings of  the site of Paglatek confirmed this postulation. 

On the southern slope of Sri Surya Pahar,  in the  natural  caves  there are Jain carvings that suggest  9th century AD. As for Buddhist remains there are as many as 25 votive stupas of different shapes and sizes cut out of granite boulders. They re found over a vast area from the extreme NW slope of the Sri Surya Pahar hill up to one kilometer further south.These suggest  Buddhist influence in ancient Kamarupa, perhaps the arrival of Buddhism was much earlier here than other parts of India. The stupas and also the terracotta plaques with figure of Buddha found in regular excavation by the ASI suggest that  was popular Buddhism  in lower Brahmaputra valley, especially in and around Surya Pahar.

The name of 'Sri Surya Pahar' suggests  that  in this place worship of Surya was popular. The Kalika-Purana (c.10th century) mentions about  two seats of sun worship in ancient Assam.

The  carved stone slab, now housed in the Sri Surya Temple and worshipped as ‘Surya’, may be the detached part that formed the ceiling of the temple of Surya. The circular carvings of the slab has a central figure  identified as Prajapati. It is  is carved inside an inner circle  surrounded by an  outer circle  in the form of twelve lotus petals. Each with a  seated figure of an Aditya. These twelve Adityas are  twelve solar divinities namely Dhatri, Mitra, Aryaman, Rudra, Varuna, Surya, Bhaga, Vivasvan, Pushan, Savitri.