When Pandavas were in exile, one of the conditions that were levied on them by the Kauravas, was “They must maintain their anonymity for fourteen years of their exile“. One breach of such a condition, they won’t get their kingdom back. It is said in the Mahabharata, Pandavas once built a magnificent Sun Temple in a single day as their hideout, but due to some reason they had to fled the temple, and the structure was left incomplete. Katarmal, temple of Almora, whose part of the roof is half- finished is assumed to be that temple. Even today, the partially complete roof of the temple is clearly visible.
Katarmal is the only Sun Temple of North India. It is situated about 23 km from Almora which includes, 20 km of car drive up to a place called Kosi and then 3 km of trekking (one can directly go to temple without taking the trek route). The trek promises some of the beautiful vistas of the nearby places and the traditional view of terrace farming practised in these parts of the county. The route passes through many villages, and one can get a glimpse of the local culture, the old architecture of housed which are well maintained. The village folks (mostly women ) carrying out their routine work. The pace of life, a few km from the main city Almora, changes quite drastically. After walking the final steps, one gets a solemn view of the temple comes into sight.
It is one of nature’s wonder and presents a hypnotizing view. The beauty of the place wins over the heart of the visitors who doesn’t like the idea of leaving it. Katarmal offers an uninterrupted solitude and natural grandeur so abound far and wide.
Here more than anywhere else we see the achievement of Kumauni builders. We experience that aesthetic harmony between human emotion and the mood of the nature that bestows true greatness upon architecture. Another reason that makes it so special is that it is the only shrine in this part of the country dedicated to Sun. Unlike sun temples of Martand and Konarak , that of Katarmal is modest in dimensions. The temple complex has 43 subsidiary shrines around the main one.
According to Historians, the temple was built by Katarmal, a king of Katyuri Dynasty. The temple dates back to 7th Century.It is one of the most famous sun temples of ancient India and has been noted for its architecture, stone and metallic sculptures, characterized with images of Lord Sun and beautifully elaborated wooden carved pillars and doors. Massive pieces of rocks were exhumed and transferred to the mountainous region.
The Katarmal Temple had a big ashtdhatu sculpture of presiding image of the deity, Sun God, was stolen. Now the temple is managed under the Archaeological Survey Of India.The loss of the image and the removal of the chariot-panel have deprived the Katarmal temple of much of its charm. A permanent guard has been appointed for the security of the sculptures. Still one can feel a sense of equanimity in the temple premises.
How to Reach Katarmal?
Its about 110 km from Kathgodam, nearest railway station and 90 km from Nainital. One can take route : “Nainital-Bhowali- -Almora-Kosi-Katarmal” “Nainital-Bhowali-Ranikhet– Kosi-Katarmal” to make a proper circuit.
Nearby places to visit?