Sri Surya Prahar Ruins are situated at a
distance of some seven miles by the Dobapara road from the town of
Goalpara, the headquarters of the modern district of Assam.
Of all the ruins in the Goalpara district, the ruins of the Sri Surya
Prahar hills occupy a significant place both in the religious and the
artistic history of Assam.
Representing The Three Hindu Sects
Rightly called "a picture gallery of the archaeological remains" here one comes across sculptural representations belonging to the three sects of Hindus: Shaivism, Vaishnavism and Saktism. At the foot of the hill and covering the extensive area are found a good number of Shiva Lingas cut out of granite stone. As a local tradition has it, there were about 99,999 lingas and these were established with a view to make this town a second Kashi.
The Exquisite Rock-Cut Figurines
In addition to Shiva Lingas, the Sri Surya Prahar remains include many rock-cut figures of artistic merit. Of the many images mention may be made of Durga, Shiva and Manasa. The image of Manasa Goddess, also identified as Durga by some, is a twelve-armed deity cut out of a single rock. She holds weapons of different kinds in each of her hands. She is standing on a lotus with seven snakes spreading their hoods like a canopy over her head. This is perhaps the singular instance of a 12-armed Goddess hitherto discovered in Assam.
A Modern Shrine
On the hill is a modern shrine, the walls of which are built of old bricks plastered with mud and with the roof of corrugated iron-sheets. The shrine contains a circular stone tablet measuring four and a half feet in circumference. On this stone tablet are engraved the images of various planetary gods with the figure of Surya.
The sculpture is within a circle and the central figure, which is within a circle, is rimmed with another embossed circle. This is a male figure with four hands. Objects held in hands cannot be recognised. The god is four-faced, fourth one being on the backside (not visible). The god is seated but his vehicle cannot be identified with precision.
It may, however, be guessed that a swan has been depicted below, which is the 'Vahana' (vehicle) of 'Prajapati' or Brahma. The central figure is surrounded by twelve miniature figures, which are seated. Each of these twelve figures is one-faced and two-armed holding certain objects possibly lotuses.
The Twelve Adityas
The central figure is 'Kasyapa' who is often called Prajapati or "creator of beings". Surya is an 'Aditya', the son of 'Aditi', wife of 'Kasyapa'. According to the Puranas the
Adityas are sun gods who are twelve in number. Thus these twelve miniature figures in a circle may be called the twelve Adityas with their father at the centre. The Kalika Purana mentions the 'Sri Surya Mountain', which was the perpetual abode of the Sun God ("Yatra Deva Adityahsatatam Sthilah"). The remains prove the prevalence of Sun worship in early Assam.