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. 

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