The Sun Temple at Martand is among the most imposing ruins and the largest Hindu temple in Kashmir. This historic temple was built by Ram Ditya in the 5th century probably between 490 and 555 AD. The collonade probably dates back to 693-729 AD. It was further modified by King Lalitaditya in the 8th century.
Temples were seldom exclusively places of worship. They were also depositories of treasure, political statements which embodied the ambitions of their royal patrons and on occasion even military strongholds. In the early 15th century the Hindu temple was destroyed by Muslim rulers.
The temple is dedicated to the Sun or in Sanskrit, “Surya”. The entrance of the Sanctum Sanctorum is facing west, so the rays of the setting sun would touch the Surya idol which where inside, when the temple was in use.
The site has been excavated and restored by the English. Some idols were taken abroad, but there are still quite a few idols in the SPS Museum in Srinagar.
The Sun Temple, which is situated at a distance of 80 km from Srinagar, is from the same period as the huge Avantiswami Temple in Avantipur, 29 km from Srinagar. Both temples show a distinctive Greek influence.