Nestled among the thick deodars of these Kumaon hills is the imposing Surya temple. Located at KATARMAL at an altitude of 2116 mt, this quaint temple, built in the 9th century, is relatively unknown as compared to the world-famous sun temple of Konark. Little over one Kilometre ( 0.6 mile ) beyond Katarmal, is Bikut forest, from where a magnificent view of Almora presents itself.
This sun temple is one of the most important temples dedicated to the Sun God. It was built by KATARMALLA, a Katyuri Raja, in the 9th century. In the early medieval period, Kumaon was ruled by the Katyuri dynasty. On a hilltop facing east, opposite Almora, is the temple of Katarmal.
The deity of the sun temple in Katarmal is known as Burhadita or Vraddhaditya (the old Sun God). The temple, noted for its magnificent architecture, artistically made stone and metallic sculptures and beautifully carved pillars and wooden doors, has a cluster of 44 small, exquisitely carved temples surrounding it. The present mandapa of the temple as well as many of the shrines within the enclosure have been constructed much later. The image of Surya in the temple dates back to 12th century (presently preserved at the National museum ,Delhi) . The idols of Shiva-Parvati and Lakshmi-Narayana are also found in the temple. However, the intricately carved doors and panels have been removed to the National Museum in Delhi after the 10th-century idol of the presiding deity was stolen.
But due to the sheer neglect of the authorities the temple and complex is in very bad shape. One feels sorry that a monument of such a historical importance had been left to decay like this. But even than it is a place worth visiting.Though now some restoration work has started , and the government is also making road. The temple is now protected and preserved by the Archeological Survey of India.
Besides Katarmal and Konark, there are three other sun temples in the country – Modhera sun temple in Gujarat, Martand temple in Kashmir and Osia in Rajasthan
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