March 27, 2015

Modhera Sun Temple

Site Name: Sun Temple
Site Type: Temple, architectural marvel
Location:  Modhera, 100 kms from Ahmedabad, Gujarat state, India
Highlights: An architectural marvel built by Solanki Kings
Nearest Railway Station: Ahmedabad
Nearest Airport: Ahmedabad
How to reach: Well connected by road, rail and air
Hotel: A lot of options across the entire city
Restaurants: Varieties of options across the entire city

Modhera is a small village located on the banks of the river Pushpavati at a distance of around 100 kms from Ahmedabad city. The highlight of this village is Sun Temple, which was built in 1026 CE by King Bhimdev of Solanki dynasty. It is an architectural marvel similar to the Sun Temple of Konark.

Legend:

As per the legend, the place was called as Dharmaranya in the olden days. After killing Ravana, Lord Ram came to this site as per the advice from the sage Vasistha. He stayed in a village called Modherak and performed yagna here. The village is called as Sitapur nowadays which is around 15 kms from Modhera.

The Sun Temple was built by Bhimdev I of Solanki dynasty in 1026 CE. It should be noted that the Solankis considered themselves as the Suryanvanshis (the descendants of Surya, the Sun God). 

Allauddin Khilji attacked and partially destroyed this temple. Currently, the temple is partially in ruins and prayers are not offered. 

Temple Layout:

The Sun Temple of Modhera has a unique architectural style. It comprises three separate sections called Surya Kund, Sabha Mandapa and Guda Mandapa. All of them are axially aligned. 

Suryakunda which is also called as Ramakunda is a very large rectangular stepped tank. This tank serves as a fine example of geometry. There are 108 small shrines carved in between the steps inside the tank. The sculptures in these sub-shrines are very attractive.

There are two huge ornamental arches which form as gateway to the Sabha Mandapa. The mandapa is open from all the sides. It has 52 intricately carved pillars depicting the episodes from Hindu Puranas and epics. 

The section between the Sabha Mandapa and the sanctum sanctorum is a beautiful hall with pillars and arches. The walls have 12 niches depicting the different aspects of the Sun God in each month. 

In the sanctum sanctorum, the idol of Sun God is missing. The idol of Surya was standing on a chariot carried by seven horses and driven by Arun. It was designed in such a way that the rising and setting Sun rays on two particular days every year fall on this idol. The entire idol along with the chariot and charioteer were made up of gold. It was taken away by Mohammed Ghazni. 

The exterior of the temple wall has different postures of Surya, eight Dikpals, Vishwakarma, Agni, Varuna, Ganesha, Saraswati and also few erotic sculptures.

Happy travelling. 

March 26, 2015

Gandhi Nagar Akshardham Temple

Site Name: Akshardham Temple
Site Type: Temple
Location:  Gandhi Nagar, Gujarat state, India
Highlights: A huge temple complex; one of the largest temples of India; an architectural marvel
Nearest Railway Station: Ahmedabad
Nearest Airport: Ahmedabad
How to reach: Well connected by road, rail and air
Hotel: A lot of options across the entire city
Restaurants: Varieties of options across the entire city


Gandhi Nagar is the capital city of Gujarat state in India. It is located near the famous Ahmedabad city. Ahmedabad has a lot of important tourist destinations. However, Gandhi Nagar has only few places of interest. Akshardham temple is one of the few important places of interest located in Gandhi Nagar.

Akshardham temple is one of the largest temples of Gujarat state and even the entire nation. It is dedicated to Swami Narayan. Swami Narayan was a Hindu saint who lived in the beginning of the 19th century CE. He was from Uttar Pradesh state and settled down in Gujarat. He is the central figure in Swami Narayan sect of Hinduism. This Akshardham temple is much older than the Akshardham temple of New Delhi. 

The temple is spread in a huge area of about 23 acres. It was built in 1992 CE. It came to international attention when two heavily armed terrorists attacked it in 2002 CE. 

The complex consists of temple, gardens, educational centers and even a research center. The main shrine of the temple enshrines the 7 feet high idol of Swaminarayan. The temple structure is intricately carved and is an architectural masterpiece.

The temple structure is located in a garden named Sahajanand Van. It has herbal garden, children park, an artificial lake and waterfalls.

There are three permanent exhibition halls set up to educate the visitors about Swaminarayan and this movement. In the first hall name Sahajanand, the life of Swaminarayan is portrayed through shows and settings. The second hall named as Sat-Chit-Anand presents an IMAX large format film on Swaminarayan. The third hall is called as Nityanand. Here, the visitors can walk through the figures which display the messages of Hinduism. 

Happy travelling.


March 23, 2015

Ahmedabad

Site Name: Ahmedabad
Site Type: City with lot of tourist and shopping options
Location:  Gujarat state, India
Highlights: One of the most important cities of Gujarat
Nearest Railway Station: Ahmedabad
Nearest Airport: Ahmedabad
How to reach: Well connected by road, rail and air
Hotel: A lot of options across the entire city
Restaurants: Varieties of options across the entire city

Ahmedabad is one of the most important cities of Gujarat state in India. It is the former capital city of the state. There are many tourist destinations including masjids and temples in this city. Let us explore about all the important destinations in Ahmedabad in this article.

In the beginning of the 15th century CE, the local governor of Gujarat, Zafar Khan Muzaffar declared himself independent from the Delhi Sultanate and founded Muzzaffarid dynasty. His grandson Sultan Ahmed Shah converted the forest area on the banks of the river Sabarmati into a new walled city in 1411 CE. 




Hutheesinh Jain Temple

Hutheesinh Jain Temple is the most popular Jain temple in Ahmedabad. This architecturally beautiful temple was built by Shet Hatheesinh, a wealthy trader and his wife Shethani Harkunvar in 1848 CE. The total cost was around INR Eight Lakhs during that period, which was a huge amount.

The main building of the temple is double storied. The main shrine has the big marble idol of Lord Dharmanath, the 15th Jain Tirthankara. There are 11 shrines in the main building. In addition, there are 52 sub-shrines dedicated to Jain Tirthankaras. The front portion of the temple is ornamented by a dome shaped structure.

Sabarmati Ashram

Sabarmati Ashram is the main attraction of Ahmedabad city. This Ashram located on the banks of the river Sabarmati was founded by Mahatma Gandhiji. He lived in this ashram for about 12 years. He led the famous Dandi march from this site. Today, the site has been converted into a museum which displays charkahs and other things related to Gandhiji. For the Gandhian followers, this peaceful site is more like a temple.

Sidi Saiyyed Mosque

Sidi Saiyyed Mosque is one of the most popular mosques in Ahmedabad. It was built in 1573 CE by Sidi Saiyyed, who served in the army of Muzaffar Shah III of the Gujarat Sultanate. The mosque is famous for beautifully carved latticework windows called as jalis. The jalis with the design of intertwined trees and foliage and a palm motif is very attractive and popular. 

The Shaking Minarets

Sidi Bashir mosque, which is located near Ahmedabad Railway Station, has the popular shaking minarets. The mosque was built in 1452 CE. There are two different versions on who built this mosque. As per one version, it was Sidi Bashir, the slave of Sultan Ahmed Shah. As per another version, it was Malik Sarang, a noble in the court of Muhammed Begada, the Sultan of Gujarat. 

The main building of the mosque does not exist today. Only the minarets and arched central gateway remain currently. The building got destroyed in the war between the Gujarat Sultans and Marathas in 1753 CE. 

Both the minarets are very tall and have carved balconies. A gentle shake in either minaret causes the other minaret also to vibrate after a few seconds. Importantly, the connecting passage remains free of vibration. This phenomenon was discovered in the 19th century by a British scholar. However, the actual reason for this still remains mystery. 

There is another mosque named Raj Bibi in Ahmedabad which has the shaking minarets. Unfortunately, one of the minarets was dimantled by the British. They were not successful in putting them back together.

Jama Masjid

Jama Masjid is one of the largest mosques in entire India. It was built by Ahmed Shah I in 1424 CE. This mosque is architecturally beautiful. The tombs of Ahmed Shah, his son and grandson along with the graves of the wives of Ahmed Shah are located near this masjid.

Happy travelling.