Location: On the banks of Pushpavati river in Modhera, Gujarat
Built by: King Bhimdev of the Solanki dynasty
Built in: 1026 AD
Dedicated to: Lord Surya / Sun God
Attraction: Marvelous architectural work
Significance: One of the few Sun Temples across the country
How to reach: One can easily reach Modhera Sun Temple by taking regular Buses or by hiring taxis from anywhere in Gujarat
Sun Temple ModheraSun 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 Mandap.
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.