What comes to your mind when I say Sun Temple in India? Konark? Of course, that’s my first thought as well. But staying in Northern India, visiting Konark in the eastern part of India would require proper planning and time.
So during my recent visit to Gwalior (6hrs drive from Delhi), I got to visit the Sun Temple or Surya Mandir, the newest of all, a perfect replica and inspiration of the Konark temple.
A mesmerizing red sandstone temple shining under the receding sun was the first look that we got through the trees. I was eager to go around and see this marvel from the front.
What is the Sun Temple?
A solar or Sun temple is a building or structure dedicated to worshiping the Sun god.
In Hindi Sun is also referred to as Surya while temple as a mandir, hence the temple is also referred to as the ‘Surya Mandir’ in India.
Sun temples Around the World
When we talk about Sun Temple, the only one that comes to our thoughts is the Sun Temple in Konark. I wasn’t aware of this until I landed in Gwalior.
There are around 20 Sun temples in India – Sun temple Konark, Sun temple Modhera the most famous ones. Leave alone India, you can even find some around the world in:
- Beijing, China
- Egypt. The remains of a few sun temples built during ancient times are found in Egypt.
Sun temple in Gwalior
My husband has been visiting Gwalior since childhood and has so many fond memories associated with this place.
He would tell me stories about him climbing the Gwalior fort and the magnificent silver train running on the dining table in Jai Vilas Palace. But surprisingly he hadn’t visited the Sun temple before. So during our recent visit, we planned to visit it.
The temple is also called Vivaswan (synonym of Surya) Temple or Birla Sun Temple, is a replica of the famous Sun temple in Konark. This is a small drop in the ocean of the philanthropic works of the Birla family.
Its foundation stone was laid in 1984 by G.D. Birla and the construction was completed in 1988. Spread over an area of 20,500 square feet, the temple is built in the middle on an elevated platform.
There are statues of Sri G.D Birla and Smt. Birla facing towards the temple and paying homage to the Sun God.
Architecture of the Sun Temple and its Significance
Dedicated to the Sun God, it is built as the horse chariot of the lord, with seven horses drawing the chariot and the reins in the hands of Sun god.
There are 24 wheels of the chariot, 12 on each side. Each wheel has 16 spokes, 8 thick and 8 thin spokes.
Every minute architecture detail has a significance associated with it. The 7 horses depict the days of the week, 24 wheels depicting no of 15 days duration in a year. Each year can be divided into 24 groups of 15 days each.
Some believe that 24 wheels represent 24 hours of a day unlike what’s mentioned at the temple. Each wheel is like a sun clock with the time between any two consecutive spokes being 1.5 hours. The wheels are engraved with beautiful carvings of flowers and flora.
The temple walls adorn beautifully carved 373 idols of various gods, including the 10 incarnations of Lord Vishnu. We just kept gazing at the walls and admiring the skills of the artists.
There are three entrances to the sanctum, one main at front and two at sides. Each entrance door has idols of the nine planetary gods (the navgrahas). There are beautiful marble steps that lead the way into peaceful sanctum.
The dome over the sanctum is a high mounted roof that has 4 small windows on each of the 4 walls. The idol of Sun god in the sanctum gets illuminated by sunrays coming from all directions through these 4 slit windows on each wall.
The idol holds Lotus, Sitting inside looking at the idol and immersing into the chants makes you feel at peace.
Sun Temple in Gwalior, built in red sandstone and interiors in sparkling white marble, it’s a sight to behold.
The temple is surrounded by lush green trees and plants which add to the beauty. There is even a fountain in the premises.
Sun Temple Timings
The temple is open daily from sunrise to sunset (around 6:30 am – 6 pm). Entry to the temple is free.
Residency Road, Mahaveer, Morar, Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh, 474004
How to Reach
Gwalior is well connected by air, railways and roads.
Gwalior is connected to some major airports with airlines like Spicejet and Air India. The airport is about 8 km away from Sun Temple.
Gwalior railway station is situated in the middle of the city and is connected on all major routes.
Gwalior is well connected on major highways connecting parts of India. The longest running highway NH44, Agra- Mumbai highway all pass through the city.
There are autos and cabs easily available in the city to reach to the destination.
Things to Take Care
- This is a temple, hence remove the footwear outside at the shoe house instead of at the steps.
- Best time to visit the temple is morning or evening to save yourself from scorching heat and burning your feet on the hot floor.
- Try and attend the aarti in the evening before the temple closure or early morning for a blissful time.
- The temple closes in the afternoon from 12 p.m. – 1 p.m.
- Photography is not allowed inside the sanctum.
Others Places to Visit in Gwalior
- Gwalior Fort.
- Jai Vilas Palace
- Temples in Gwalior
- Gujari Mahal
- Phool Bagh
The list doesn’t end here, for more attractions and tours refer to Tripadvisor
Read more posts about Gwalior on our blog
Gwalior Fort in Madhya Pradesh – Odyssey into Glorious History.
Temples in Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh – Taste of Indian Spirituality and History
Gujari Mahal: the celebration of Raja Man Singh’s Love for Mrignayani
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Have you ever visited a Sun temple?? Have you been to Gwalior?? Do share your experiences with us. We are all ears.
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