The Incredible Architecture Of Modhera Sun Temple
The famous Modhera Sun temple of Gujarat goes beyond just a page in history. The Sun Temple is widely known for its stunning architecture. You do not have to be an archaeologist to appreciate the architecture of Modhera Sun temple and hopelessly fall in love with it.
Gujarat is not just known for one particular attraction; rather, it is the presence of many different landmarks and elements that make the place so enticing. And one such attraction that is absolutely unmissable during a Gujarat trip is the famous Sun Temple in Modhera. While it was built as a religious temple complex, what makes the structure spectacular is its fascinating architecture.
History Of Modhera Sun Temple
Modhera’s Sun Temple traces its roots back to 1026 AD, when it was built in honour of the Hindu sun God – Lord Surya under the rule of King Bhimadeva I of the Solanki dynasty. Sun worship has a long history in the Indian subcontinent, and the Solanki dynasty were considered to be descendants of the Sun God himself.
This was only the second sun temple to be built in the country (after Odisha’s Konark Temple), and has many a legend associated with it. The temple was plundered by Mahmud Ghazni, but the ruins that remain do not fail to impress. Today, it serves no religious purpose with no main idol in place, but the marvellous architecture draws a significant number of visitors each year.
At present, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has taken up the supervision and management of this remarkable monument after working on its restoration.
The Stunning Architecture Of Modhera Sun Temple
The construction of Modhera’s Sun Temple portrays the sheer brilliance of the architects of old. The first thing that strikes you is the grandiosity and opulence of the structure, which was achieved because of its location on a high platform. Spires may be missing from this temple, but the majestic ‘Torana’ arches more than make up for it.
The Exteriors Of Modhera Sun Temple
No wall space has been left undecorated in the temple, not even the exteriors. The sandstone walls are full of carved sculptures, featuring various Hindu deities such as Shiva, Parvati, and Vishnu as well as flowers, birds, and animals – a mesmerising testimony to the skilled work of the artisans. The sanctum’s exterior also has carved images of Lord Surya, portrayed wearing long shoes and a belt, similar to that of Gaya’s Dakshinaarka Temple. The sculptures, pillars, main entrance, and the surrounding gardens combine to create an enthralling sight even before one sets foot inside the temple.
The architecture Of Modhera Sun Temple was designed in three distinctive sections –
Guda Mandap (Main Temple)
This is the sanctum sanctorum, supported by a lotus-base plinth, where the Sun God’s idol originally stood. The fascinating bit about the architecture Of Modhera Sun Temple in the Guda Mandap is that it is designed to catch the rays of the sun during the equinox (March 20 and September 23). The sun’s rays would fall on the statue of Lord Surya, carved entirely out of gold, and illuminate the entire space. The idol was looted by Mahmud Gazni, but the architectural brilliance can still be seen.
The Tropic of Cancer is known to pass through the Modhera Sun Temple, and legend has it that the deity once used to have a massive diamond piece that reflected the sun inside the temple complex. The walls here also have carvings depicting the human life cycle of birth and death, as well as 12 different facets of the Sun God for each month.
This area is a hall with four open sides and beautiful arches. However, the most striking feature here are the 52 pillars, built to represent the 52 weeks of the year. Each pillar features intricately carved scenes from the Ramayana and Mahabharata, as well as stories from the life of Lord Krishna.
You need to go through this spectacular hallway to get to the Guda Mandap, so expect to spend some time admiring the impressive work here that has stood the test of time. If you’re lucky, you’ll come across local guides and priests, who sometimes have interesting stories to narrate about the scenes depicted on the pillars.
This is perhaps the most attractive feature of the temple, and it is what gives the Sun Temple its unique character. The kund or deep stepped tank, located in the front of the temple, was originally used for storing pure water that devotees would use to clean themselves before they entered the temple. With 108 mini shrines chiselled on the stone steps of this beautiful tank, each dedicated to Hindu Gods in their different forms, it is nothing short of a historic art gallery.
Location & Best Time To Visit The Modhera Sun Temple
The Sun Temple in Modhera is located by the River Pushpavati, just about 100km from Ahmedabad, so it makes for a convenient and fun day trip. Although it can be visited any time of the year, winters are the best time to visit the region. The Modhera dance festival, in the third week of January, includes various cultural performances organised against the backdrop of the Sun Temple, which makes it a particularly good time for a visit.
Published on: Jul 6, 2017