The Katarmal Sun temple, also known as the Varaditya temple, is an eighth century shrine is dedicated to the Sun God, and apparently one of the four Sun temples in the world. It is located at a distance of 70 km from Nainital. We decided to visit this site during our trip to Nainital – Kausani.
The temple was located on top of a hill. Earlier, the only way to visit the temple was to climb for about 45 minutes to an hour. Archaeological Survey of India’s (ASI’s) initiative to restore the temple has led to the building of a road till about 200 meters away from the temple. However the road is still kuccha, and the scary drive up should only be attempted by pros.
The temple comprised of the main shrine and a cluster of smaller shrines around it. In the sanctum santorum, there was a stone statue of Surya perched on his regal chariot drawn by the seven horses. There were other broken pieces of idols as well and we could identify Ganesh, Vishnu and Shiv. We saw lamps and flowers and a priest.
More importantly the cluster of shapely stone structures of varying sizes perched, quite high on top of this hill, secluded from civilization, basking in the brightness of the sun in all their regality, was serendipitous. Standing majestically against the mountain sky, this place left a deep impression on us. We spent about an hour there absorbing the beauty of the temple, its surroundings and clicking photographs.
This is a hidden treasure in the ancient archaeological landscape of India. While we combined it with our trip to Nainital, the Katarmal Sun Temple near Nainital deserves a standalone trip as well.