A sun temple (or solar temple) is a building used for religious or spiritual activities, such as prayer and sacrifice, dedicated to the sun or a solar deity. Such temples were built by a number different cultures and are distributed across the world including in India, China, Egypt, Japan and Peru. Some of the temples are in ruins, undergoing excavation, preservation or restoration and a few are listed as World Heritage Sites individually or as part of a larger site, such as Konark.
The Temple of the Sun in Beijing, China, was built in 1530 during the Ming dynasty by the Jiajing Emperor, together with new temples dedicated to the Earth and the Moon, and an expansion of the Temple of Heaven. The Temple of the Sun was used by the imperial court for elaborate acts of worship involving fasting, prayers, dancing and animal sacrifices, as part of a year-long cycle of ceremonies involving all the temples. An important element was the colour red, which was associated with the Sun, including red utensils for food and wine offerings, and red clothes for the emperor to wear during the ceremonies. The temple is now part of a public park.
In ancient Egypt, there were a number of sun temples. Among these old monuments is the Great Temple of Ramses at Abu Simbel, and complexes built by the Fifth Dynasty, of which only two examples survive, that of Userkaf and of Niuserre. The Fifth Dynasty temples usually had three components, a main temple building at a higher elevation, accessed by a causeway, from a much smaller entrance building. In 2006, archaeologists found ruins underneath a market in Cairo, which could possibly be the largest temple built by Ramesses II.
The sun temples of the Indian subcontinent were dedicated to the Hindu deity Surya,with the most prominent among them being the Konark Sun Temple (also known as the Black Pagoda)  at Konark in Odisha and the Sun Temple at Modhera, Gujarat, built in 1026–1027. Both are now ruins, having been destroyed by invading armies. Konark was constructed around 1250, by Narasimhadeva I of the Eastern Ganga Dynasty, and was built in the shape of a large chariot with carved stone wheels, pillars and walls. Surya was an important deity in early Hinduism, but largely ceased to be worshiped as a principal deity around the 12th century. In Manipuri mythology, the sun god Korouhanba is the synonym of the Hindu deity Surya. Other Surya or sun temples in the Indian subcontinent include:
- Martand Sun Temple, near Anantnag in Jammu and Kashmir built in 10th century
- Deo Surya Mandir in Deo, Bihar
- Ebudhou Korouhanba Temple, Moidangpok, Patsoi, Manipur
- Sun temple at Katharmal, near Almora and 70 km from Nainital was built in 9th century CE by the Katyuri kings.
- Sun Temple at Modhera in Gujarat, built in 1027 by King Bhimdev of the Chaulukya dynasty
- Bhramanya Dev Temple at Unao, Balaji in Madhya Pradesh
- Sun Temple at Kalpi in Uttar Pradesh
- Soorya Narayana Temple at Maroli, Mangalore, Karnataka
- Surya Pahar Temple at Sri Surya Pahar in Assam built in 9th century
- Suryanar Kovil Temple at Kumbakonam in Tamil Nadu built in 1060-1118 CE
- Surya Narayana Temple at Arasavalli in Andhra Pradesh built in 7th century
- Dakshinaarka Temple at Gaya in Bihar
- Biranchinarayan Temple, Buguda in Buguda, Ganjam, Odisha.
- Biranchinarayan Temple, Palia, a 13th-century temple in Palia, Odisha.
- Multan Sun Temple, also known as Aditya Sun Temple, in Multan in Punjab, Pakistan was destroyed by Muslim rulers in 10th century.
- Navlakha Temple, Ghumli, Gujarat, built in the 11th century.
- Katarmal sun temple in Uttarakhand, built from approximately the 10th century onwards.
- Birla Sun Temple in Gwalior
- Sri Suryanarayana Swamy Temple, Gollalamamidada, in Andhra Pradesh built in 1920.
The following are Pre-Columbian temples of Inti (the Inca god Sun):
- Qurikancha in Cusco, Peru, was the most important temple in the Inca Empire.
- Muyuq Marka in Cusco, Peru.
- Willkawaman in Vilcashuamán, Peru.
There are also sun temple sites in a number of other countries:
- The Temple of the Sun in the Temple of the Cross Complex, at the Mayan site of Palenque, in southern Mexico, built sometime between 200 and 900 AD.
- The Temple of the Night Sun at the Mayan site of El Zotz, Guatemala, possibly abandoned in the fifth century.
- There are several Shinto shrines in Japan, dedicated to the sun goddess Amaterasu including:
- In the Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado, United States, there is a structure which may have been used as a sun temple by the Pueblo culture, with construction thought to have begun in 1275 AD, although it does not seem to have been completed.
- "A visit to the Sun Temple". The Hindu. 28 February 2009. Retrieved 9 January 2014.
- "Sun Temple, Konârak". UNESCO. Retrieved 9 January 2014.
- "Temple of Heaven: an Imperial Sacrificial Altar in Beijing". World Heritage List. UNESCO. Retrieved 13 January 2014.
- Yanxin Cai (2011). Chinese Architecture. Cambridge University Press. p. 44.
- "Traditional life in China: Ruling". Victoria and Albert Museum. Archived from the original on 13 January 2014. Retrieved 13 January 2014.
- "A man walks across a frozen pond at Ritan Park". Times of India. 27 January 2012. Retrieved 13 January 2014.
- "Pharaonic monuments in Aswan". State Information Service, Egypt. Retrieved 9 January 2014.
- Ronald J. Leprohon, ed. (2005). Texts from the Pyramid Age. Society of Biblical Literature. p. 86.
- Kathryn A. Bard, ed. (1999). Encyclopedia of the Archaeology of Ancient Egypt. Routledge. p. 86.
- Stefan Lovgren (1 March 2006). "Giant Ancient Egyptian Sun Temple Discovered in Cairo". National Geographic News. Retrieved 11 January 2014.
- "Ancient sun temple uncovered in Cairo". NBC News. 28 February 2006. Retrieved 11 January 2014.
- A. Bhatnagar; William Livingston; W. C. Livingston (2005). Fundamentals of Solar Astronomy. World Scientific Publishing. p. 28.
- Robert Ebersole (1957). Black Pagoda. University of Florida Press. p. 7. Retrieved 13 January 2014.
- "Official website". Tourism Department, Government of Odisha. Retrieved 9 January 2014.
- Robert Ebersole (1957). Black Pagoda. University of Florida Press. p. 34. Retrieved 13 January 2014.
- "Fall of Konark". Tourism Department, Government of Odisha. Retrieved 13 January 2014.
- "District Anantnag". Anantnag District Administration. Archived from the original on 22 December 2013. Retrieved 9 January 2014.
- Sajwan, Venita (17 August 2002). "A lesser-known sun temple at Katarmal". The Tribune. Retrieved 8 July 2013.
- "Katarmal Sun temple, Almora". Nainital Tourism. Retrieved 9 July 2013.
- "Modhera sun temple". Gujarat Tourism. Archived from the original on 28 September 2011. Retrieved 9 January 2014.
- "Sun rays touch Arasavalli deity". The Hindu. 10 March 2011. Retrieved 9 January 2013.
- "A Little Known Sun Temple At Palia" (PDF). Government of Odisha. April 2006. Retrieved 9 January 2014.
- Journal of Indian history: golden jubilee volume. T. K. Ravindran, University of Kerala. Dept. of History. 1973. p. 362.
- A glossary of the tribes and castes of the Punjab and North-West ..., Volume 1 By H.A. Rose. 1997. p. 489.
- Archaeology in India. Archaeological Survey of India. 1950. p. 101.
- "Sun Temple at Katarmal". Huntington Archive. Ohio State University. Archived from the original on 23 January 2014. Retrieved 23 January 2014.
- Venita Sajwan (17 August 2002). "A lesser-known sun temple at Katarmal". The Tribune, online edition. Retrieved 23 January 2014.
- Carolyn Dean (2010). A Culture of Stone: Inka Perspectives on Rock. Duke University Press. p. 42.
- "Non-Western — Temple of the Sun". California State University, Los Angeles. Retrieved 23 January 2014.
- "Temple of the Sun". Unaahil B'aak:The Temples of Palenque. Wesleyan University. Retrieved 23 January 2014.
- Ker Than (20 July 2012). ""Dramatic" New Maya Temple Found, Covered With Giant Faces". National Geographic News. Retrieved 23 January 2014.
- Brian Bocking (2004), The meanings of Shinto (PDF), School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, p. 267, retrieved 13 January 2014
- "Sengū Renewal of the Ise Shrine in 2013: Tradition and Rituals". School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. Retrieved 13 January 2014.
- "Amano-iwato Shrine". Japan National Tourism Organization. Retrieved 13 January 2014.
- J. McKim Malville; Claudia Putnam (1993). Prehistoric Astronomy in the Southwest. Johnson Books. p. 91.
- P. Charbonneau; O.R. White & T.J. Bogdan. "Solar Astronomy in the Prehistoric Southwest". High Altitude Observatory, University Corporation for Atmospheric Research. Retrieved 23 January 2014.
- "Sun Temple". U.S. National Park Service. Retrieved 11 January 2014.