Sun Temple at Modhera is one of the few shrines that are dedicated to the Sun God. Situated on the banks of Pushpavati River in Modhera, Sun Temple is easily accessible from Ahmedabad, the largest city of Gujarat. The nearest station to Modhera is located at Ahmedabad, which lies at a distance of 102 kms. Regular bus services are also available from Ahmedabad to Modhera. The nearest Railway station is sited at Mehsana, with a mere run of 25 kms.
In 1026, the temple was built by King Bhimdev of the Solanki dynasty
(believed to be the descendants of the lineage of Sun God). This ancient
temple revives the reminiscences of Sun Temple at Konark in Orissa.
Turning in the pages of history, one can notice the mention of Modhera
in the scriptures like Skanda Purana and Brahma Purana. The surrounding
area of Modhera used to be known as Dharmaranya (forest of
righteousness) and the place was blessed by Lord Rama.
The brilliant architecture of the temple is one of its own class. The
temple encompasses three different yet axially-aligned and integrated
constituents. As per the Konark Temple, this shrine is designed in a
manner, so that the first rays of the Sun cast on the image of the Lord
Surya. The Temple was plundered by Mahmud Ghazni; still the
architectural grandeur is not vanished. No matter what is left, yet the
remnants provide a great enchantment to behold.
Erected on a high platform, the Temple appears majestic with its grand
structure. However, the spires are out of the scene, but the 'Toranas'
(Archways) that lead to the main halls overshadow the absence of spires
or shikhars. The exterior walls are engraved with intricate carvings,
boasting about the mastery of art in those times. Every single inch of
the structure is covered with the sculptural patterns of Gods,
Goddesses, birds, beasts and flowers. Actually, the Sun Temple is
divided into three parts namely Surya Kund, Sabha Mandap and Guda
Surya Kund is a deep stepped tank in the front of the temple. The tank
was named after the Lord Surya (Sun God). In the earlier times, this 100
sq meter rectangular tank was used to store pure water. The devotees
used to take a halt here for ceremonial ablutions before moving towards
the temple. Not less than 108 shrines mark the steps of this tank
including the shrines dedicated to Lord Ganesha, Lord Shiva, Sheetala
Mata and many others. In front of this tank, a huge 'torana' (archway)
leads to the Sabha Mandap.
Literally, Sabha Mandap refers to an assembly hall where religious
gatherings and conferences are conducted. This hall is open from all the
four sides and has 52 delicately carved pillars. The intricate carvings
depict scenes from the Ramayana, Mahabharata (Indian Epics) and scenes
from the life of Lord Krishna. In order to get into the Sanctum
Sanctorum, one has to cross the passage with pillars and arches.
Guda Mandap is the sanctum sanctorum that is supported by a lotus-base
plinth. Once, this hall used to house the idol of the Sun God. The
designing of the hall was done in a way, so that the idol gets the first
glimpse of the Sun at equinoxes. However, the idol was plundered by
Mahmud Ghazni yet the walls represent the Sun God in his 12 different
facets of each month. The carved walls also depict the aspects of human
life like the vicious circle of birth and death. The façade of
this hall was renovated in the recent years, despite the fact that the
roof over the Guda Mandap had already been shattered.
Modhera dance festival is the major festival that is observed by the Sun
Temple. This dance festival is organized to keep the Indian traditions
and culture alive. It is held in the third week of January every year.
The classical dance forms in the premises of this temple revive the
imperial ambiance during the period. Gujarat Tourism organizes this
event to promote tourism at this place.