Katarmal Sun Temple, a tourist attraction par excellence पर्यटकों को लुभाता कटारमल का सूर्य मंदिर

Katarmal Sun Temple, a tourist attraction par excellence पर्यटकों को लुभाता कटारमल का सूर्य मंदिर

There are around a dozen famous Sun temples in India. One of them is located a few kilometers ahead of Almora. A visit to this fabulous piece of architecture leaves tourists spellbound, writes Archana Khatri Das


T

he Sun temple in Uttarakhand is an architectural marvel in the lap of nature. The magnificent stone carvings and the striking surrounding view cannot fail to urge visitors to pause and fill in the sublime experience.

The temple is located in Katarmal village, some 20 kilometres from Almora. Perched at an altitude of 2116 metres, surrounded by slender deodar trees, the temple at Katarmal is the only ancient Sun temple in the North India where one can offer prayers during a visit.

Though the period from April 12 to April 23 is considered most auspicious for the worship of Sun God, believers and architecture-lovers visit this place round the year. The Sun god is believed to shower intelligence, confidence, good health, courage, strength, leadership qualities, independence, fame, success, power to his devotees.

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ALL ABOUT THE SUN TEMPLE

The main temple facing east houses the main deity which is known as ‘Baraditya’. An ASI inscription in the temple says that the main temple was constructed on “Triratha on plan having curvilinear shikhars of Nagar style with square garbhagrih , while the antaral and two mandaps were added later on”.

The temple and surrounding cluster of shrines, around 45 of them, were constructed in such a way that on particular days, around December 15 to January 15, the period around Makar Sankaranti, the Sun rays fall directly on the main deity through an opening in sanctum sanctorum around. A large-scale puja is organised in the temple on the last Sunday of the Hindu pausha month.

 The entrance to the sanctum sanctorum was decorated with intricately carved wooden doors, but after the 10th-century idol of the presiding deity was stolen, the carved doors were moved to the National Museum for protection. All idols from the smaller shrines have also been removed and are kept locked in the big one.

The temple also houses idols of lord Shiva and mata Parvati and Shri Lakshmi-Narayana.

It is believed that king Katarmalla of Katyuri dynasty built the temple for the Sun God in the 13th century. Kumaon region was ruled by the Katyuris, who ruled from the 7th to the 11th century and controlled large parts of Kumaon, Garhwal and western Nepal. A number of temples including Baijnath, Bagheshwar and Jageshwar built, were built during the reign of the Katyuri kings.

The Nagar style of architecture, popular in medieval period carved out of stones were the hallmarks of all the temples built by Katyuri kings, which largely reflects in the Sun temple too.

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DRIVE TO KATARMAL

To enjoy the trip to Sun Temple, it is best advised to hire a sturdy SUV rather than going by a self-driven car, as the last 2-3 kilometre of the road leading to the temple-after crossing the Kosi town- is narrow and not tarred.

The area is inhabited by wild cats, so one must ensure to return before the sunset. It is also advisable not to visit the place during the monsoon time the road gets muddy and your vehicle can get stuck.

A stone -laid path of nearly 200 metre leads to the main temple complex, which will have to be completed on foot. So, good walking shoes and a bottle of water will make good companions.

If you are wildlife lover, you may come get photo opportunities to click Black Bulbul , Blue throated flycatcher , Blue whistling thrush , Grey backed shrike ,Mountain hawk eagle , Rock bunting , Yellow bellied fantail and Yellow footed green pigeon etc.

The Sun temple at Katarmal has been declared a monument of national importance under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958. One encounters history here in reality, which the ravages of nature and time have failed to demolish.


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