The Magnificent Sun Temples of the World

Sun God or Goddess has been worshiped throughout the World in various forms by various civilizations. Solar deity or Sun is perceived as the storehouse of inexhaustible power and radiance and is often worshiped during the harvesting months.

Many temples dedicated to worship Sun have been built in recorded history of mankind where Sun God is typically depicted riding seven horses on a chariot, representing the seven colors of a rainbow. There are even some temples enshrining the Sun God as the principal deity. Many of these shrines have been designed in such a way that the sun’s rays illuminate the sanctum on certain days of the year.

Here is a list of some majestic Sun temples in the World that should not be missed!

Konark Sun Temple, Odisha

By Anwesha of GoingPlaceswithAnwesha

The 13th-century Sun Temple (also known as Black Pagoda) at Konark takes the form of a gigantic chariot of the Sun God (Arka), with 12 pairs of vastly ornate stone wheels drawn by seven pairs of horses. Grand in conception, the temple represents one of the most enthralling monuments of India, erected entirely in red sandstone and black granite by King Narasimhadeva I of the Ganga dynasty. Due to its marvelous architecture, it has etched its name on the UNESCO World Heritage sites’ list.

The Sun Temple in Konark, Odisha
The Sun Temple in Konark, Odisha

The entrance is guarded by two giant lions each in the form of crushing a war elephant, which in turn, lies on top of a human body. This is believed to symbolize the supremacy of Brahmin Hinduism (lion) over Buddhism (elephant). Parts of the temple is now in ruins, with a collection of its sculptures removed to the Sun Temple Museum run by the Archaeological Survey of India.

The world-famous poet Rabindranath Tagore praised the architecture of the Konark Sun temple and wrote: “Here the language of stone surpasses the language of man.”

Some of the legends describe a lodestone on the top of the Sun temple, whose magnetic effects disturbed passing by ships’ compasses resulting in their malfunction. To save their ships, the Muslim voyagers took away the lodestone, which acted as the central stone keeping all the stones of the temple wall in balance. Due to its displacement, the temple walls lost their balance and eventually collapsed. But no records of such occurrence, or of any powerful lodestone at the temple have been found to date.

The easiest way to reach the Konark Sun Temple is to rent a taxi/cab from Bhubaneshwar (60 km) or Puri (35 km) in Odisha. Alternatively, you can also board a bus from Bhubaneshwar or Puri and reach the Konark bus stand which is 6 mins away from the Sun temple.

Wat Arun, Temple of the Dawn in Bangkok, Thailand

By Samantha of Myflyingleap

Wat Arun, known as the Temple of the Dawn, is one of the most stunning temples in Bangkok, Thailand. The morning sun glitters off millions of ceramic tiles on this palace overlooking the Chao Phraya river. It is a landmark in the city, and though there are many incredibly beautiful temples in Bangkok, it is one that should not be missed.

Wat Arun, Temple of the Dawn in Bangkok
Wat Arun, Temple of the Dawn in Bangkok

The temple was named for the Hindu God, Aruna often displayed as the rays of the rising sun. It is one of the oldest temples in the area as the original Buddhist temple was believed to have been built in the mid-17th Century. Like many temples of its era, it went through several renovations and expansions including the addition of the main spire that rises 260 feet high. 

There are many ornate and detailed mosaics covering the structures and every view is stunning. It’s also one of the few temples you are allowed to climb, offering many more incredible views. Wat Arun is considered one of the most beautiful and iconic temples in all of Thailand because of the craftsmanship and colorful detailing.

You will not want to miss this temple and its beautiful pearly iridescence. Though it is across the river from some of the most popular temples, including the Grand Palace complex and Wat Pho, it’s very easily accessible by ferry from Wat Pho. In fact, I recommend seeing these three landmarks together to get a real flavor for the grandeur of the area. 

There are many beautiful temples throughout Southeast Asia including Laos, Cambodia, and Myanmar, and other countries. The temples in Thailand, and specifically, in Bangkok, are by far some of the most majestic. Wat Arun is a standout and is one of my favorites.

Modhera Sun Temple, Gujarat

By Shalini of Eagar2Travel

Modhera Sun Temple was built in the early 11th century by the Chalukya dynasty and is dedicated to the Sun God. It is located in the Mehsana district of Gujarat at a distance of about 102 km from Ahmedabad. To reach here you can fly into Ahmedabad and take a bus to Modhera. You can find regular government-run buses. The nearest Railway station is sited at Mehsana, which 25 km away from this place.

The Sun Temple in Modhera, Gujarat
The Sun Temple in Modhera, Gujarat

The Sun Temple is divided into three parts namely Surya Kund, Sabha Mandap, and Guda Mandap. The exterior walls are covered with intricate carvings. You can see the time and effort put by the artists for making it so beautiful.

The tour of the temple starts from the Surya Kund. The Surya Kund was a sacred tank and visitors to the temple could not worship in the temple until they had a ceremonial dip here. The Sabha Mandap or assembly is standing on 52 delicately carved pillars, depicting the 52 weeks in a year. The 12 representation carved on the pillars portrays 12 different facets of Sun in each month.

The Guru Mandap is the inner sanctum that is supported by a lotus-shaped plinth. The idol of the Sun God no longer exists inside the Guru Mandap but the hall was designed in such a way that the idol used to get the first glimpse of the Sun at equinoxes.

There is also a museum present on the premises, you can check out the amazing pieces of history kept there. The Modhera dance festival is the prime festival observed by the Sun temple. It is held in the third week of January every year to uphold the culture and traditions of the surrounding areas.

Temple of the Sun, Beijing

By Sydney of Aworldinreach

Beijing’s Temple of the Sun is located in beautiful Ritan Park in the city’s Chaoyang District. The Temple of the Sun is smaller than some of the other temples in Beijing; however, it is a very beautiful and quiet place to look around and reflect on your time spent in Beijing.

Temple of the Sun, Ritan Park
Temple of the Sun, Ritan Park

The Temple of the Sun was built in 1530 under Emperor Jiajing’s rule, which was during the Ming Dynasty. It was originally built as a place for the Emperor to make sacrifices to the sun god. Each year, the emperors would hold a festival on the vernal equinox in order to celebrate and worship the sun.

Presently, the Temple of the Sun has been converted into a serene public park with gorgeous, ornate pavilions and gardens. At the park, you’ll find many locals enjoying their day or practicing tai chi. The park offers many fun activities such as fishing gear rentals, miniature golf, and rock climbing. Visiting the Temple of the Sun is a great escape from the bustling city of Beijing – and you don’t even have to leave the city to go there!

While the Temple of the Sun isn’t as ornate as some of Beijing’s other temples, it is still worth a visit. If you’re staying at one of the nearby affordable Beijing hotels, it is perfect for taking a morning walk! The Temple of the Sun is free to enter. To get there, take the Beijing Line 1 Subway to Yong’anli Station.

Pyramid of the Sun in Teotihuacán, Mexico

By Wendy of Thenomadicvegan

Also known as City of the Gods, Teotihuacán was a city with a population of more than 150,000 people, making it the largest Pre-Columbian city in the Americas.

Teotihuacan in Mexico
Teotihuacan complex in Mexico

Construction on the complex began in 300 BC, and the Temple(pyramid) of the Sun was built in 150 BC. It’s the largest building in the complex, and when it was built it was by far the largest building in the New World. Many tourists mistakenly believe that the temple was built by the Aztecs, but actually it’s the creation of a much earlier civilization, known as the Teotihuacans. The Aztecs, who came to power several centuries later, also used it for sacrifices and rituals, believing that it had been constructed by their gods.

Originally, the temple would have been covered with brightly colored murals and sacred images. Nowadays, all that’s visible is the grey stone underneath, but it’s a marvelous sight nonetheless. For the best views of the temple, climb to the top of the nearby Temple(pyramid) of the Moon. Other places of interest worth visiting while you’re there are the Temple of Quetzalcoatl and the on-site museum.

Teotihuacán is only about 45 minutes by car from Mexico City, so you could even take an Uber there. Alternatively, buses leave from the Terminal Autobuses del Norte every 20 minutes or so and cost about 100 Mexican pesos for a return ticket. On every 2nd November, a festival called Festival Chamán is held at Teotihuacan as part of the Day of the Dead celebrations, which attracts a lot of visitors.

Be prepared to do a lot of walking once you reach the site, which is quite large. Bring water and snacks, or you could even ask one of the nearby restaurants to prepare you a packed lunch of traditional Mexican food and eat it inside the archaeological park.

Temple of Garni, Armenia

By Carine of Wediditourway

Armenia is the first Christian nation in the world and is home to over 4,000 churches. But surprisingly, it’s also home to the temple of Garni, an old pagan temple. This Greco-Roman colonnaded structure looks like it belongs in Italy or Greece, not in Armenia! In fact, it’s the only building of its kind in all of Armenia and the post-Soviet Union.

Temple of Garni in Armenia
Temple of Garni in Armenia

This temple was thought to have been built in the first century AD by King Tiridates I and is dedicated to the Sun God Mihr. It’s a unique site in Armenia, not only because of its structure but also because of its beautiful setting at the top of a cliff, surrounded by mountains.

Temple of Garni still plays a big role in Armenia. Since 1990, the temple has been the central shrine of followers of Armenian neopaganism. They still hold annual ceremonies at the temple, especially on March 21, which is the pagan New Year, or during the summer festival of Vardavar, which has pre-Christian (pagan) origins.

There are many ways to get to Garni temple, especially from Yerevan. You can join an organized tour group for $20-25 USD per person. These tours will take you to the nearby monastery of Geghard, which is stunning. Another way to get here is to grab a cab through the GG app or take the public bus. And if you’re feeling adventurous, you can try hitchhiking, which is very safe in Armenia. The temple is located about 45 minutes from Yerevan, and it costs 1500 AMD to get in. 

Ise Grand Shrine, Japan

By Lena of Nagoya Foodie

The Ise Grand Shrine in Japan is a shrine of the Sun Goddess Amaterasu, who is the most important goddess in the Shinto belief. Shinto is the religion of the Japanese people. They believe that there is a god in everything and so they have shrines of gods dedicated to mountains, rivers, trees, and objects which are considered significant. 

Ise Grand Shrine - Kaguraden
Ise Grand Shrine – Kaguraden | Flickr

As in many other religions, the sun is held in high regard, represented in Shinto by the sun goddess Amaterasu. It is officially known as Jingu and has two main shrines within it: Naiku and Geku.

Festivals at the Ise Grand Shrine follow the agricultural calendar. In the spring, prayers for a bountiful harvest throughout the year are offered while in September a festival to pray for good weather and enough rains is held. The most important festival at the Ise Shrine is in October when Amaterasu is thanked for the bountiful harvest of the year. 

You can reach Ise Shrine easily as a day trip from Nagoya. Just take a Japan Rail (JR) train from Nagoya Station leaving for Ise. The train ride will take about 1.5 hours and cost around 2300 yen one-way. The trip is included for free if you are a JR Pass holder.

Have you been to any of these temples? Which one is your favorite? Tell us about your experience below in the comments!

The Magnificent Sun Temples of the World
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12 thoughts on “The Magnificent Sun Temples of the World

  1. Soujanya Reply

    Until now I had only heard of the sun temple in Orissa. I had no idea there were so many more in the world!

  2. Sinjana Reply

    This is a remarkable post. I visited only the Sun Temple of Orissa among these, that too when I was very young. Only have the faintest memories of the same. Thanks for inspiring my bucketlist.

    1. Anwesha Guha Reply

      I am glad you liked reading it Sinjana. 🙂

  3. Sarah Reply

    Wow! I’ve only visited the Wat Arun in Bangkok so far. Time to add more to my list 🙂

  4. World of Lina Reply

    Wow all those temples look amazing, would love to see them!

  5. Kristine Reply

    You’ve put together such a nice guide on the sun temples! I’ve only visited the one in Bangkok before; never knew there are so many in the world!

    1. Anwesha Guha Reply

      Thank you. I am glad you liked it, Kristine.

  6. Julie Reply

    Incredible – I love your pictures and this post has inspired me to visit some sun temples!

  7. Ann Reply

    I had never even heard of the sun temple in Orissa, so thank you for the education!
    And happy new years from Stockholm Sweden 🙂

  8. Sam Reply

    This is such an awesome list! I’ve been to Wat Arun and now added the rest to my list!

  9. Emma Reply

    I’ve been to Wat Arun and the Temple of the Sun in Beijing, and enjoyed both but they are also very different from the other. I’m interested in checking out some of the others on this list though.

  10. Jessica Redler Reply

    Isn’t Wat Arun amazing? One of my favorite temples in the world so nice to see it featured here 🙂

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