Lalitaditya Muktadipa - Kashmir’s Great Empire Builder
The ruins of the great Sun temple at Martand, never fail to take your breath away. Most people will recognise them from Bollywood filmmaker Vishal Bharadwaj’s haunting film Haider (2014). It is sad that we need a movie set, as a reference point to what was once a spectacular Sun temple, unlike any, anywhere in the subcontinent. But this article is not about the Martand temple which was pulled down in the late 15th century CE. It is about the King who built it. The Martand Sun Temple, is the only surviving reminder of the great Kashmiri Emperor Lalitaditya, whose empire stretched from Central Asia to the Gangetic plain.
King Lalitaditya of the Karkota dynasty of Kashmir ruled for 37 years from 724 to 761 CE. His rule is considered to be the golden age of Kashmir, when art, architecture, culture and learning flourished. Due to his great conquests, writers and scholars have termed him ‘Alexander of Kashmiri history’. Today, while the conquests of Chola King Raja Raja Chola over South East Asia in 11th century CE are celebrated, the exploits of this great Kashmiri king have been buried in the pages of time.