Puja event at ASI-protected Martand Temple in Kashmir stokes controversy

What is the News?

The Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor participated in a religious ceremony held in the ruins of the 8th century Martand Sun temple, a protected monument under the Archaeological Survey of India. This temple has been recognised as a “Site of national importance”.

What is Martand Sun Temple?

The Martand Sun Temple also known as Pandou Laidan is located five miles from Anantnag in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.

It is a Hindu temple dedicated to Surya (the chief solar deity in Hinduism) and built during the 8th century CE. Martand is another Sanskrit synonym for Surya.

It was built during the 8th century CE by the third ruler of the Karkota Dynasty, Lalitaditya Muktapida.

It is now in ruins, as it was destroyed by the orders of Muslim ruler Sikandar Shah Miri.

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 and Chinese forms of architecture.

The temple also appears in the list of centrally protected monuments as Kartanda (Sun Temple).

Who was Lalitaditya?

Lalitaditya alias Muktapida(724 CE–760 CE) was a powerful ruler of the Karkota dynasty of the Kashmir region in the Indian subcontinent.

He commissioned a number of shrines in Kashmir, including the now-ruined Martand Sun Temple. 

He also established several towns, including a new capital at Parihasapura although he also maintained the dynasty’s traditional capital at Srinagara.

The main source of information about Lalitaditya is Rajatarangini, a chronicle of the rulers of Kashmir, by the 12th century Kashmiri writer Kalhana.

Lalitaditya also finds a brief mention in the New Book of Tang (Xin Tang shu), a record of the Tang dynasty of China.

The 11th-century Persian chronicler Al-Biruni mentions a Kashmiri king called Muttai who was most probably Lalitaditya.

Source: The post is based on the article Puja event at ASI-protected Martand Temple in Kashmir stokes controversy published in The Hindu on 8th May 2022.

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