After prayers were held at the ruins of the eighth-century Martand Sun Temple in Jammu and Kashmir’s Anantnag, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has expressed its concern to the district administration while refraining from lodging a formal complaint.
Back to Basics
About Martand Sun Temple
- The Martand Sun Temple is a Hindu temple located near the city of Anantnag in the Kashmir Valley.
- It dates back to the eighth century AD and was dedicated to Surya, the chief solar deity.
- The temple was destroyed by Sikandar Shah Miri in a bid to undertake mass conversion and execution of Hindus in the valley.
- According to Kalhana, the Temple was commissioned by Lalitaditya Muktapida in the eighth century AD.
- The temple is built on top of a plateau from where one can view whole of the Kashmir Valley.
- From the ruins the visible architecture seems to be blended with the Gandharan, Gupta and Chinese forms of architecture.
- As per the ASI’s Srinagar Circle, under which the Martand temple falls, there are only nine monuments in the region where worship can be allowed — such as Kathua’s Billawar temple, Sankaracharya temple, Pathar Masjid in Srinagar.
- Of the 3,691 centrally-protected monuments and archaeological sites maintained by the ASI, a little less than a fourth (820) have places of worship, while the rest are considered non-living monuments where no new religious rituals can be started or conducted.
- The sites that have places of worship include temples, mosques, dargahs and churches; the highest numbers of such monuments are in Vadodara (77), followed by Chennai (75), Dharwad (73) and Bengaluru (69).
The living monuments
- The best-known example of a living ASI monument is the Taj Mahal in Agra.
- Other notable living monuments include the remains of an old Hindu temple inside the Dayaram Fort in Hathras, three mosques in Kannauj, Roman Catholic Church in Meerut, Nila Mosque in Delhi’s Hauz Khas Village, Bajreshwari Devi Temple in Himachal Pradesh’s Chamba, and several Buddhish monasteries in Ladakh.
Authorised and unauthorised
- There are also several protected temples and mosques where worship is allowed on special occasions, ASI officials said. For instance, at the ancient Brick Temple in Kanpur’s Nibia Khera, a maximum of 100-150 devotees are allowed during Shivaratri Mela every year.
- Incidentally, many protected monuments are already witnessing “unauthorised worship”, according to ASI records. These include Lal Gumbad, Sultan Ghari’s tomb, and Ferozeshah Kotla, all in Delhi.
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