It is the month of June.
Days are longest and it is the hottest month in the northern hemisphere.
People turn to the Sun to pray for respite from its scorching heat.
Time to look for the Temples to the Sun to offer our prayers for a bearable summer.
Where are the Sun Temples in India?
Sun temples are famous in different parts of India. They have been built and venerated from time immemorial.
We have had Sun temples from Kashmir to Kanyakumari and from Afghanistan to Assam in the ancient Indian land of Bharatha, the most popular ones being Konark temple in Orissa, the Sun temple in Modhera and the Suryanarkovil in Kumbakonam among others which fall on the popular tourist circuits.
Sun Temple, Konark
Sun Temple, Modhera
The land of India today spans from 6.7 degrees North latitude to 37.1 degrees North latitude. In this wide span, we find a plethora of Sun temples, almost in a straight line around 23 degrees North latitude.
Save for a few such as Suryanarkovil near Kumbakonam in Tamil Nadu at 10.8 degrees North, the Konark Sun Temple in Orissa at 19.9 degrees North etc. most of the other renowned temples can be found around 23 degrees North. Some are in ruins, some are memories and some are still in use today.
Suryanarayanaswamy temple at Arasavalli in Andhra Pradesh – 18.27 degrees
Sun Temple at Somnath Patan near Veraval in Gujarat – 20.9 degrees
Sun Temple at Madkheda near Tikamgadh, Madhya Pradesh – 22.9 degrees
Sun Temple at Umri near Tikamgadh, Madhya Pradesh – 22.9 degrees
Sun Temple at Kandaha, Bangaon, near Saharsa in Bihar – 23.0 degrees
Harsiddhi temple at Ujjain – Harsiddhi – 23.09 degrees
The famous Sun Temple at Modhera, near Ahmedabad, Gujarat – 23.5 degrees
Kanthad Nath at Kanthkot near Rapar- 23.48 degrees
Sun Temple at Dholavira – 23.89 degrees
8th Century Sun Temple in Chittorgarh Fort, destroyed in 14th century and rebuilt as Kali temple – 24.59 degrees
Surya mandir, Deo, Aurangabad, Bihar, 85 kms from Gaya – 24.5 degrees
Dakshinaarka Temple in Gaya – 24.7 degrees
Uttaraka temple near the Uttara Maanas tank in Gaya – 24.7 degrees
Gayaditya temple on the river Falgu in Gaya – 24.7 degrees
Sun Temple at Jhaira Patan near Kota in Rajasthan: Ruins of an ancient temple – 25.1 degrees
The Dwadasha Aditya temples and more in Kashi also called Varanasi – 25.2 degrees
The Bhramanya Dev Temple at Unao in Madhya Pradesh, near Jhansi – 25.6 degrees
Sri Surya Pahar, Sun Temple at Goalpara in Assam 26.0
Sun Temple at Galta near Jaipur in Rajasthan – 26.5 degrees
Sun temple in Morar at Gwalior – 26.2 degrees
Sun Temple at Ranakpur near Udaipur in Rajasthan – 27.0 degrees
Sun Temple near Almora in Uttarakhand – 29.37 degrees
Sun Temple at Martand in Jammu and Kashmir 32.5 degrees
Not just these, the renowned sun temples of another Sun worshipping ancient civilization, namely Egypt, also has its sun temples at
Abu Simbel – 22.6 degrees
Karnak, Luxor – 25.43
Why do we find so many Sun temples almost in a straight row and that too around 23 degrees North latitude?
What did our ancestors know about the Sun that we do not, today?
What is the mystery behind this pattern?
23.5 degrees North latitude is the Tropic of Cancer.
As we have read in our school books, the Tropic of Cancer is the line up to which the sun moves North in its annual journey.
Sun at the Tropic Of Cancer on June 21
This movement of the sun between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn and its significance has already been discussed by us, in the Rishimukh magazine of January 2010 and April 2010.
The way of living of our ancestors was in harmony with the Cosmos. They conducted their life, the annual and daily activities in their lives, in sync with the flow and rhythm of seasons, Rthu. Their Dharma, way of living,was governed by the Dharma, way of operating,of the Cosmic Nature.
Hence they tracked the sun and other celestial bodies in the sky to read the skies and prepare themselves for the daily, annual and spiritual change that are bound to occur as our planet earth hurtles on its journey through space along with its parent, the Sun and its siblings , the other planets in the solar system.
Each of these temples was specially designed to receive the rays of the sun inside the sanctum sanctorum, garbha graha, and illuminate the idol with a natural glow, on special days, especially the period around Summer Solstice.
June, is thus the time to watch our Sun go to the northern most point in its path in the skies and marvel at the knowledge, the sagacity and the architectural skills of our ancestors, which has found expression in the form of these temples to the Sun all over India and has become one of the traditions of India.