- In May this year, some pilgrims offered prayers inside the Martand Temple, an Archaeological Survey of India-protected (ASI) monument.
- Soon after, J&K Lieutenant Governor participated in a ‘Navgrah Ashtamangalam Puja’ on the premises.
- The ASI objected to this, saying no permission was granted for the ceremony.
History of Martand Temple
- The Martand Temple was built by the Karkota dynasty king Lalitaditya Muktapida, who ruled Kashmir from 725 AD to 753 AD.
- Lalitaditya built his capital at Parihaspora, the ruins of which also survive to this day.
About the Temple
- Dedicated to Vishnu-Surya, the Martand Temple has three distinct chambers—the mandapa, the garbhagriha, and the antralaya—probably the only three-chambered temple in Kashmir.
- The temple is built in a unique Kashmiri style, though it has definite Gandhar influences.”
- A major historical source for Kashmir’s history remains Rajatarangini, written in the 12th century by Kalhana, and various translations of the work contain descriptions of Martand’s grandeur.
A confluence of architectural style
- From the ruins of the temple, it is evident that the complex originally consisted of a principle shrine at the centre of a quadrangular courtyard, flanked towards the north and south by two small structures.
- The central courtyard was initially filled with water supplied by a canal from river Lidar to a level which immersed almost one foot of the base of the columns.
- This courtyard was enclosed by a colonnade, which seem to have consisted of 84 pillars.
- The temple is influenced by Classical Greco-Roman, Buddhist-Gandharan, and North Indian styles.
- Lalitaditya is known to have subjugated the king of Kannuaj, which can be one of the reasons for North Indian workers building his temple.
Destruction of Martand Temple
- Many historians believe Sultan Sikandar ‘Butshikan’ (iconoclast) was behind it, others blame earthquakes, faults in the temple’s masonry, and the simple passage of time in an area prone to weather excesses.
- One of the main sources that hold Sikandar responsible, is the work of poet-historian Jonaraja—who wrote the ‘Dvitiya’, or second, Rajatarangini.
- There are reports that the temple appears to have been destroyed by earthquakes, friable nature of the material used, frost and snow causing natural weathering, and improper fitting of stones at their joints.
Why Harsha broke temples
- Three centuries after Lalitaditya and two centuries before Sikandar existed a Hindu king known for destroying and desecrating temples: King Harsha (1089 AD to 1101 AD) of the first Lohara dynasty.
- Harsha’s actions against the temples had nothing to do with religion—he was simply a profligate king who ran out of money and began looting temples for treasure and for the precious metals of the idols.
- However, Harsha appears to have spared the Martand Temple, where a few years before, his father had drawn his last breath.
Source: Indian Express
Previous Year Question
Q.1) Which of the following is/are famous for Sun temples? (2017)
Select the correct answer using the code given below:
- 1 only
- 2 and 3 only
- 1 and 3 only
- 1, 2 and 3