Sundarnarayan temple located in the Ahilyabai Holkar Bridge locality of Nashik in Maharashtra state was built in 1756 by Gangadhar Yashwant Chandrachud. Lord Vishnu in the form of Sundarnarayan is the ruling deity, accompanied by Mata Saraswati and Lakshmi whose idols are placed in the temple sanctum. The temple walls are adorned by paintings of Indira, Hanuman and Narayana.
The architecture of the temple is a masterpiece and perfect example of the temple art culture of India. The temple which faces towards the east has three porches provided with balcony seating and globular domes. Some of the architecture works also has shades of Mughal architecture. The most striking aspect of the temple is the angle at which it is erected. The finely sculptured stone temple is erected in such a way that the first rays of the sun fall exactly on the idol on 21st March. The temple is thronged by thousands of devotees to witness this grandeur. The pillars of the temple are decorated with various carvings and it also has two mandaps and a well decorated corridor. The temple has a pond and each corner of the temple is decorated with paintings and sculpture work. This temple in Nashik is a visitor’s delight and must see site.
The legend of the temple goes this way, it is believed that the area where the present temple stands was a place haunted by a evil demon named Jalandar who was an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva. Even though the demon was wild and practiced evil deeds, he had a pious and virtuous wife who was down to earth in her behavior. Lord Shiva was highly impressed by his devotion and his wife’s and he blessed the demon with a boon of immortality. This boon made Jalandar to create destruction in the area. He challenged the Gods including Lord Shiva. The Gods realized the importance to kill the demon to save the mankind. The Gods approached Lord Vishnu to help them in this noble cause. Lord Vishnu understood that the chastity and piousness of Jalandar’s wife is acting as a shield to his life. Lord Vishnu adopted the look of Jalandar and started living with his wife. He challenged the chastity of the women and killed Jalandar. When Jalandar’s wife Devi Vrinda cam to know this, she cursed Lord Vishnu to turn black and lose his charm, glamour and beautiful looks. The curse of the lady made him dark and he had to take a holy dip in River Godavari to regain his original form. After regaining his original form, Lord Vishnu was called Sundar Narayan. Sundar in local language means beautiful. When the temple was built the legend of Vishnu was associated in naming the temple as Sundar Narayan Temple.