Katarmal Sun Temple – Visit from Nayalap

Almora and the Katarmal Sun Temple lie an hour away from Shitlakhet. The city was once at the crossroads of trade with Tibet and was one of the most important towns in the Kumaon region. The temple is over 12 centuries old and is one the great examples of Kumaoni temple architecture.

A sun temple needs precision and is a rarity in India. The Katarmal Sun temple is one of the best-preserved still. It is one of the 5 major sun temples in India – the others being in Konark, Modera, Martand and Osiyan – and was built by Katarmalla the presiding Katyuri king. The Katyuri kings were medeival Rajput rulers from Joshimath. At the height of their reign, their territory spanned the hill regions of present day Kumaon and some parts of Nepal.

Building a sun temple takes precision as the aim is always that the first rays of the sun fall on the idol.


The temple was built in the 9th Century by the Katyuri kings and bears witness to the architecture of the day. Masons of the time used a mixture of lime and lentil paste to make the adhesive agent. To learn more about the architecture of the region, click here. The idols at the Katarmal Sun Temple consist of the old sun god Burhadita and Vraddhaditya. He is flanked by Parvati & Shiva and Laxmi & Narayana. Apart from the main shrine, there are 44 smaller shrines in this temple for various dieties. The temple was built as the Katyuris linked to the Suryavansha lineage tracing back to the Sun God.

The temple is a short hike from the road head and offers great views of Almora and the Himalayas. The location of such a temple is of prime importance and thus the temple is near the top of a hill. In spite of being in the middle of tectonic instability and harsh climates, the temple still stands – a testament to the quality of work done when there was no planned obsolescence. The old binding plaster of lime, jaggery and urad dal still hold this magnificent architecture together.

History of the dynasties of Kumaon and the timeline around the Katarmal Sun Temple

Apart from visiting the Katarmal temple, you can also hike up to the Syahi Devi temple from Nayalap. It is the highest temple in this valley.

Where is the Katarmal Sun Temple Located?

Katarmal Sun temple is a 45min drive from Nayalap. Hire a taxi from Nayalap or drive in your own car. You can combine it with a visit to Almora or Kasar Devi. To gain a perspective into Kumaoni Temple architecture, you can compare the Sun Temple at Katarmal with the Nanda Devi temple at Almora.

9th Century Sun Temple made of dressed rock.

Why is the Katarmal Sun Temple Famous?

One of the few sun temples in India, Katarmal is famous as a group of temples made of stone. Along with Modera, Konark, and Martand, it is one of the famous sun temples in the country. The temple is also known for the rock architecture and craftwork that stands to this date. It was also an important signifier of power and the city of Almora was built due to the Kilmora plants being offered at the temple.

Attractions near Katarmal Temple

Post Script

If you are interested more in the Katarmal Temple, you should visit the National Museum in Delhi and see the wooden reliefs. Authorities moved the reliefs there after the original 9th Century idols were stolen and are great examples of the old Likhai craft of the region.

Fact Sheet

Nearest Bus StationAlmora
Nearest Railway StationKathgodam
Nearest AirportPantnagar Airport (PGH)
Amenities available at Katarmal Sun TempleRestaurant, Washroom, Parking
TimingsSunrise to Sunset
Best times to visitMorning or Late afternoon
Interesting datesSummer and Winter Equinox
Total visit time5-6hrs to and from Nayalap
Average Elevation2116m above MSL