Modhera Sun Temple Gujarat
The Sun Temple at Modhera
Today I visit a temple in India where there are no idols to worship. A temple where no more religious prayers are offered. Darkness surrounds the interiors of the shrine. But somehow this darkness and the silence around is oddly comforting.
A huge green water tank greets me when I enter the premises. There are interesting elements that makes the whole place look marvellous. The temple is said to be destroyed by Allauddin Khilji, however what has remained of the temple is enough to convey its grandeur.
History of The Sun Temple at Modhera
It is believed that Lord Rama performed a yajna(a ritual sacrifice) at Dharmaranya after killing Ravana, the king of Lanka. Ravana, although a Rakshasa, was a highly learned Brahmin by birth. And killing a Brahmin was considered a sin. This place Dharmaranya is modern day Modhera.
Later in the 1026 AD, King Bhimdev of the Solanki dynasty built The Sun Temple here. This temple is much older than the well-known Sun Temple at Konark in Orissa. For centuries, India has worshipped Sun God as a major deity. And Sun Temples usually reflect much greater architectural abilities as they are built keeping sun’s position around the earth in mind. I wonder how this was all achieved during the 11th century!
Natural elements – fire, air, water, sky and earth were at their peak sharing space with Vedic Gods during this time. The ancient philosophy of natural elements and its association with human was considered the prime force of life cycle. A walk around this temple, not having any idol to worship today, still radiates a strong aura of this energy.
Become one with nature and open your mind to the poetry in Stone
Design of The Sun Temple at Modhera
This Sun temple is so designed that the rays of the Sun would fall on the idol in the main shrine at the time of equinoxes. Equinoxes occur twice a year when the Earth’s equator happens to be exactly at centre of the Sun. Reading all of this history makes me wonder if we all appreciate the beauty in these marvellous structures enough? Although people of ancient world had no technologies, you would agree from only the ruins that they were much more knowledgeable.
There are three sections at the Sun Temple in Modhera:
1. Surya Kund – This stepped tank has stunning geometric pattern and to get to the bottom, you really need to work your way out. 108 miniature shrines adorn this step well that are dedicated to various Gods and Demi-Gods. The major shrines are dedicated to Lord Ganesha, Lord Vishnu, Lord Shiva and the Shitlamata Goddess.
2. Sabha Mandap – This structure which is open on all four sides was used for religious gatherings. It has 52 pillars within representing the 52 weeks in a year. The carvings depict episodes from the epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata.
3.Guda Mandap – This is a sanctum that once housed the idol of Sun God. Figurines of Gods, animals and mythical figures adorn the outer walls of this sanctum. This temple is based on an inverted lotus-base plinth.
More Pictures of The Sun Temple
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In the month of January, this temple holds a cultural dance festival every year.
How to reach: Modhera is 100 kms from Ahmedabad and 25 Kms from Patan, by road. It is advisable to make this trip after your visit at Rani-ki-vav in Patan. Possible itinerary Ahmedabad (airport) – Patan – Modhera – Ahmedabad
Recommended mode of transport is by Road (car or bus). Closest train station is at Mahesana. And nearest airport at Ahmedabad.
We didn’t book a stay at Modhera and left for Ahmedabad soon after this visit.
Visiting hours: 7am to 6pm, everyday
Modhera is protected monument under Archaeological Survey of India. Trained guides are available at the temple.
Lastly I think with the disappearing of the Solanki dynasty, decline of Sun God worship, earthquakes that Gujarat has faced, other rulers trying to invade Gujarat and with years gone by; the temple’s fable saw many ups and down. In spite of it all, the Sun Temple is a magnificent work of art in stone, bathing seekers in a bright light of enlightenment.