Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Sun Temple at Modhera

A couple of playful squirrels welcomed us to one of the few shrines dedicated to the Sun God- the Sun Temple at Modhera. This was our stop before heading towards Patan (read about it here). With only a countable number of visitors, the sandstone temple against the clear blue sky was a beautiful sight to behold.

The Sun temple, situated on the river Pushpavathi, was built by Bhimdev I of the Solanki dynasty. He is the same king on whose memory his wife built the Rani- ni- Vav in Patan. Solankis were descendants of Sun (Suryavanshis), so a temple dedicated to Him. The temple stands gloriously on a raised platform even after undergoing several attacks by Mahmud Ghazni.

The Sun temple and the sacred tank...



























According to the legends, Rama, while returning from Lanka after killing Ravana wanted to wash away his sins of killing a Brahmin. Vasishta Muni directed him to Dharmaranya where Rama performed a 'yagna' and established a village called Sitapur. Sitapur is the same village that came to be known as Modhera in later years.

This east- facing temple has three main parts- the Surya Kund (stepped water tank/ sacred resevoir), the Sabha Mandapa (or Ranga Mandapa) and Gud Mandapa (temple with the Gurbhagriha but it does not have an idol to worship at present).

Even before we enter the temple, we get a glimpse of the Surya Kund on the right side. The Surya Kund is rectangular in shape with pyramid shaped steps that make a beautiful geometric pattern. A unique feature in this step well is the placement of small temples on these steps. The shrines of Ganesha, Shiva and various other Gods adorn these temples. The tank (also called Rama Kund) is house to many turtles too.

Surya Kund


























Pyramid shaped steps and small shrines along the steps...


























The pillars of Kirti Torana...



























A flight of steep steps from the Surya Kund can lead us to the Sabha Mandapa through a Kirti Torana (victory arches). But only the pillars remain now. The Sabha Mandapa (used as an assembly and dance hall) is octagonal in shape with 52 pillars denoting 52 weeks of the year. Scenes from Ramayana, Mahabharata and Krishna Leela are intricately carved on these pillars. Each pillar is connected to the next pillar with either a semi- circular or triangular arch. These 'Toranas' give the Sabha Mandapa's ceiling and pillars a floral look.

Sabha Mandapa


























Ceiling inside Sabha Mandapa...




























Pillars inside Sabha Mandapa...





















































Semi Circular arches...



























Walking through one of the doors from Sabha Mandapa, we reached the Guda Mandapa. This is where the Garbhagriha (without any idol) exists. The temple sits on Tropic of Cancer that passes through Gujrat and during days of equinox the first sun rays would fall on the idol that was present in the Garbhagriha. The interiors of the Garbhagriha is dark and stinky (because of the bats). It is believed that the idol that was present earlier was made of pure gold that depicted Sun God. The idol sat in a deep plinth that was filled with gold coins. The exteriors (or the Mandapa) again, has exquisite carvings of Ashta Dikpalakas (deities that guard the eight directions), Brahma, Shiva, Sarasawati and many other deities. 

Main Temple...





















































Carvings outside the Guda Mandapa...


























The Sun temple is an architectural site that has been very well maintained and a visitor can explore the site without any rush and disturbance as there is less crowd. 




Sun Temple at Modhera

A couple of playful squirrels welcomed us to one of the few shrines dedicated to the Sun God- the Sun Temple at Modhera. This was our stop ...