Architecture and sculptures like temples, lakes and stepped wells are developed in Gujarat by many dynasties like Chavdas, Solankis (Chaulukyas), Vaghelas as well as wealthy Jain merchants. But temples built by Chalukya Dynasty are more prominent among hundreds of temples of Gujarat. One of them is Modhera Sun temple. Other important architecture includes Rani ki Vav, Sahasralinga (Thousand lingas) reservoir at Patan, Rudramahalaya at Sidhpur and the Shiv Temple at Somnath.
Among all Sun Temples in India, two Sun Temples are really popular and prominent. Konark Sun Temple & Modhera Sun Temple. We are going to view Modhera Sun Temple in this post.
Sun temple at Modhera is a Marvel of Architecture.
Modhera was first described by two british archaeologists James Burgess and Henry Cousens in the early 20th century.
As name suggests the temple is dedicated to “Surya”, the Sun god. This Surya temple is located at Modhera village of Mehsana district, Gujarat, India. This is situated on the left bank of Pushpawati river. There is old capital of Solankis, “Anhilwad Patan” situated at 40 kms to north of Modhera. Every year 3 day “Modhera Dance Festival” or “Uttarardh Mahotsav” held during the 3rd week of January to honor god. Illuminated at night with high quality sound system and excellent lighting. Link given in Guidelines section for more information on this.
When we enter temple, we first see a garden on both sides. As we proceed further we see a breathtaking temple complex. At first we see A Kund (Sacred Tank) then A Toran (Ornamental Gateway). Then Sabha/Rang Mandap (Semi-Open Hall) and at last Main Temple Structure.
Sun temple is built in early 11th century or more than 900 yrs ago by Solankis also known as Chaulukyas. The Solanki king Bhimdev I (AD 1016-27) built this temple.
It has been designed to allow the first rays of sun to fall on deity Surya at the time of Equinoxes.
We have checked with compass and you can see photo below (Inner Side Part).
The temple is partially ruined but retains much of its glory and is under protection of ASI (Archaeological Survey of India).
The Sun Temple is EAST FACING and built with yellow sandstone. Main temple has two parts:
- A closed hall – Gudha Mandapa in the front
- A Shrine – Garbhagruha
These are connected by narrow passage. Main temple is at center of whole complex surrounded by other structures: Dancing Hall – Sabha Mandap, Ornamental Gateway – “TORAN“, a Large Rectangular Masonry Tank – “KUND” and Shiv Temple to the northern side which were built in different times. The Spire – Shikhar has been destroyed.
Now here is view of temple complex from North side. We can see Gudha Mandap and Shrine .(Main temple in first image) Then Sabha or Rang Mandap and Gudha Mandap.
Now here is view of temple complex from South East side. We can see Rang Mandap, Gudha Mandap and Shrine. The front of main temple is an open pillared hall known as Ranga Mandap must have been place for religious gathering, singing and dancing.
Inner side Carvings
At the center of closed hall (Gudh Mandap) there are 8 decorated columns that makes octagon. Inner walls of hall are adorned with figures of twelve Adityas who are forms of SUN god and actually represents 12 months of one solar year. Pillars at closed hall are octagonal at base progressing to the circular shape and are with figures of Apsaras and many other. Doorway is carved with divine and decorative figures – the Adityas or the other aspects of Sun god, Ganesha, Kubera, Apsaras and many others.
The presence of 12 Adityas on the shrine’s outer wall and elsewhere, it has always been believed that the temple dedicated to Surya the sun god.
Here is demo showing Sun temple Modhera is constructed facing perfectly 90 degrees EAST.
Out side Carvings
This is one of the main carving showing child birth practices. This carving shows practice of Water Birth performed which is like a new discovery nowdays. Our ancestors had this knowledge 900 years ago.
At Main Temple door on right side we see very rare figure facing east. This god has 3 Heads, 3 Arms and 3 Legs. Right hand might have sword and a dagger and solitary left hand bear a skull cup. Of the 3 faces 2 side faces are peaceful but the central face may have been fierce (it is much worn-out).
This form of Shiva known as Tripada Bhairava or Atiriktanga Bhairav
Here is Sun god in his Rath (Chariot) with 7 horses. Arun is his Sarathi – Charioteer.
Outer walls are decorated with small to large carvings from base to top. All 8 directions have figures of 8 Gods – “Dikpal”. Dikpal are also known as “Guardians of the Directions” of space.
- Indra – East
- Agni – South-east
- Yama – South
- Nirṛti – South-west
- Varuṇ – West
- Vayu – North-west
- Kuber – North
- Īśān – North-east
As like many other Ancient Indian temples you can see Erotic figures / carvings on outer walls of Sabha Mandap and Gudha Mandap.
Between Kund and Sabha Mandap there is ceremonial free standing gate “Toran”. Toran consist of 2 tall columns divided in to many horizontal and vertical bands decorated with ornate figures, animals etc. There 2 more gateway but even more ruined condition.
In addition to main complex there is also a small Shiv shrine on north side. Inside temple the is one main “Shivling” but mainly 5 small Shivlings carved on main Shivling .
Kunda – Ramakund
In front of Rang Mandap there is deep rectangular tank – Kund fed by sub soil water of the Pushpaavati river. Kunda has 108 small and large shrines of different Gods. Out of which 3 large shrines faced on each side, east, south and north of kunda. Western side has steps leading to Toran and then Sabha Mandap.
Information given here is as per our tour guide and from the book written by Mr Kirit Mankodi (Check below).
Thank you for checking our Blog post
Best destination for everyone including senior citizens (Kids and senior citizens must be careful while going down in Kunda).
How to Reach
Nearest City is Ahmedabad (about 101 Km.) for all modes of transport i.e. Air, Railway and Bus. From Ahmedabad you can go via Road or by train up to Mehsana. Mehsana is 26 kms from Modhera.
Best Time to Visit
You can visit throughout the year. You may want to attend Modhera Dance Festival in January. To get more information about it: Check this, official website of Gujarat tourism.
It is open from Sunrise to Sunset generally: 07.00 am to 6.00 pm
- ₹15 entry fee per person for Indians
- ₹200 per private car
Note: Information of pricing/timing given here may change so please confirm with tourism department before visiting.
Things to Carry
- Rain Coats (Monsoon) and Woolens (Winter)
- Camera is allowed
- Your regular Medicines
Near by places
- Rani Ki Vav – Patan, around 45 Kms, UNESCO World Heritage Site.
To know more about Modhera Sun Temple, you can read an online version of a booklet here: More About Modhera Sun Temple. It is written by Mr. Kirit Mankodi and published by Director General of Archaeological Survey of India, New Delhi in 2015.