Mar 10, 2014

Temples of India- Sun Temple at Modhera, defines the beauty of Indian medieval architecture



One of the very few shrines dedicated to Hindu God Sun, Modhera temple is one of the masterpieces of medieval architecture in Gujarat, India. The brilliant architecture, exquisite carving on sandstone just two hours away from the busy-crazy Ahmedabad! Though plundered by enemies and earthquakes the temple has much to offer even in its dilapidated state! One of the magnificent specimens of Indian medieval architecture!

Sun Temple at Modhera Gujarat
The Sun Temple and Surya Kund

On the banks of river Pushpavathi the temple was built by King Bhimadev of Solanki dynasty of Patan who is believed to be Suryavamshi (descendants of Sun). It seems this temple is mentioned in Skanda Purana, where the place Modhera is mentioned as Dharmaranya which was blessed by Hindu God Sri Rama where he performed a yaga to be free of the sin bramha-hatya after killing Ravana. The temple has three axially aligned structures- Surya Kund (a deep stepped water tank), Sabha Mantap (assembly hall) and Guda Mantap (sanctum sanctorum).

Sun Temple at Modhera Gujarat
Sabha Mantap
Surya Kund- a large rectangular water tank, those days, filled with pure water and the devotees took ceremonial bath here before proceeding to the temple. The steps to the tank are very ornate and there are around 108 small shrines of several deities including Lord Ganesh, Lord Vishnu and Mata Sheetala Devi. Notice that 108 is an auspicious number for Hindus.

Sabha Mantap is an assembly hall where people rested and also where religious gatherings were conducted. The mantap has richly carved archways and 52 extensively ornate pillars representing 52 weeks in a year. The stories of Hindu Epics, such as Ramayana, Mahabharata and Krishna Leela are depicted in these carvings. The story of Vanara Sena (army of monkeys) building the stone bridge (Rama sethu) is fantastic.

Sun Temple at Modhera Gujarat
Guda Mantap
Guda Mantap, is extensively ornate sanctum sanctorum. The plinth of Guda Mantap and Sabha Mantap are in the form of lotus, because lotus is considered to be the flower of Sun. There are twelve forms of Sun, called Adityas, carved on the interior walls of the temple representing twelve months in a year. On the exterior one can notice Ashta Dikpalas (eight directions) along with Sun deity with his chariot and seven horses representing 7 days in a week. Also seen are Devi Sarswati (Goddess of knowledge) and Lord Bramha (God of creation).

The friezes include lotus petals in the bottom, elephants above it and then the day-today activities of the human life starting from conception, child birth, worshiping, chat, music, war and so on to final destination death. And so has very few (1%) erotic sculptures too as it is a part of day-today life.

Sun Temple at Modhera Gujarat
Mahamud Gazni took away the 15ft tall gold idol of the Sun God with diamond studded tiara when pillaged and plundered the whole temple but he could not take away the majesty and grandeur of the art. It was restored by the Solanki rulers once they regained the lost power. The temple was finally destroyed by Allauddin Khilji.

Whatever still stands today is enough to delight the visitor with wonder and enchantment. Every piece of stone used to build the temple has art engraved on it. The spires of both mantaps are missing but go mostly unnoticed! The grand art on the walls, pillars and archways mesmerize the visitors.

This magnificent temple of 11th century AD is not functioning anymore and is a protected monument under the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). The temple complex has an entry fee of Rs. 5 for Indian residents and for foreigners there is a different fee. Surprisingly there is no fee for photography!

Intricate carvings on the wall- Sun God, Elephant frieze, Samudra Manthana, People worshiping Shivalinga

Modhera is easily accessible from the state capital Ahmedabad which is 102KM away. Also nearest town is Mehsana 40KM. Buses regularly ply between Modhera and these main cities. Taking private taxi or driving is the best way. I took our own car from Vadodara. Driving on the National Expressway-1 was fantastic! Nearby is Bahucharji Temple which is a shaktipeeth. Well, a tour back to 11 century AD and the Solanki grandeur was memorable!
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Rameshwara Temple, Keladi
Hampi, The ruins f Vijayanagara Empire
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Trikuteshwara Temple, Gadag
Madhukeshwara Temple in Beautiful Banavasi

This post is linked to Our World Tuesday.

If you want pictures please ask me :)
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Scrapbook- A Travel Blog by Kusum Sanu is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

13 comments:

  1. Kusum, thanks for being around to show us the glimpses of our culture which we still have not seen:) Beautiful write up and pictures!

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  2. Modhera sun temple looks magnificent with its wonderful architecture. Lovely article, Kusum.

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  3. Love the detailed architecture. Would love to visit here someday.

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    1. You should! The art here is something beyond words!

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  4. I have been there 3 years ago…such an amazing place. What I liked about Gujarat is that it is still not overrun by tourists like Rajasthan.You showed us some beautiful pictures.

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    1. Thank you! Yes I agree, Gujarat is not as touristy as Rajasthan!

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  5. Replies
    1. Thank you ladyfi, Yes it is gorgeous :)

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  6. beautiful, beautiful artistry!

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  7. what is this made in

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