Kashmir. Temple of Marttand or the Sun. View of peristyle, north side of enclosure. Probable date A.D. 693 to 729
Photographer: Burke, John
Medium: Photographic print
Photograph of a section of the colonnade of the Surya Temple at Martand in Jammu & Kashmir taken by John Burke in 1868. This photograph was reproduced in Henry Hardy Cole's Archaeological Survey of India Report 'Illustrations of Ancient Buildings in Kashmir.' (1869). Cole wrote,'The most impressive and grandest ruins in Kashmir, are at Marttand, which is about three miles east of Islamabad...
According to the testimony of the Raja Tarangini, the colonnade was built by Lalitaditya, who reigned in Kashmir from A.D.693 to 729; and the character of the fluted columns, would lead to the supposition that the architects of Kashmir had been influenced by those of the Graeco Bactrians.' Kashmir is dotted with the remnants of temples dating from its pre-Islamic history prior to the 14th century. Buddhism was established here from the 3rd century BC and the Hindu Vaishnava and Shaiva cults also flourished here. Kashmir was a great centre for Sanskrit learning and literature. The main source of its history is the poetical work Rajatarangini, written by the 12th century court-poet Kalhana. Situated on a high plateau and commanding superb views over the Kashmir valley, the ruined temple, dedicated to the sun god (Surya), is considered a masterpiece of early temple architecture in Kashmir. It was built by Lalitaditya Muktapida (ruled c.724-c.760) of the Karkota dynasty, one of the greatest of Kashmir's rulers, under whom both Buddhism and Hinduism flourished. The main shrine consists of a portico, an entrance hall and a sanctum, with a monumental doorway before the sanctum and two small shrines flanking the portico. It stands at one end of a large rectangular colonnaded court entered by a central gate in its western side. The cells (about 81)around the court are shaped by columns and pilasters supporting tall pediments and trilobate arches. The fluted columns reveal a Hellenistic style derived from Gandhara and Bactria.