Temples have always enlivened the Indian Heritage for a very long time and they still do so. They are always present on our itinerary whenever we are visiting any state of India. Amongst these, is present Gujarat, an enchanting state that has a legacy of withholding the most beautiful temples. Modhera Sun Temple is one of those shrines in the lands of Gujarat, that presents you a sight to behold and an architecture to make you wonder about the excellent craftsmanship our forefathers were blessed with.
Built around the 11th century by King Bhima I of the Chalukya Dynasty, this temple is dedicated to the sun deity ‘Surya’. Legends say that the temple might have been built for defense purposes during the invasion of Mahmud of Ghazni when he invaded Bhima's kingdom as quoted on Wikipedia. But whatever the folktales might be, this shrine is still in the state of presenting its visitors with a peek into the rich architecture and cultural brilliance of our rich history.
Architecture | Narrative Sculptures and Captivating Landscape
Stunning is a word that you can refer to while talking about the design of this temple. The whole shrine is divided into three main parts, the shrine hall, assembly hall, and a reservoir, each of which has its importance and significance. The architecture style followed by Modhera Sun Temple is that of Chalukya style which is also known as the Maru-Gujara style.
● Gudhamandapa: Inner Hall
Divided equally into two parts, you first enter the Gudhamandapa and then the Garbhagriha. In most of the Indian architectural styles, Garbhagriha is known as the place where the main deity resides or the place that is considered to be most holy in the whole premises.
The shrine proper or Garbhagriha has a doorway ingrained with sculptures of Lord Surya engulfed with dancers and couples. It can be seen that the figures are not in proper shape as they have been destroyed during invasions.
● Sabhamandapa: Outer Assembly Hall
The Rangamandapa or Sabhamandapa is not connected to the Gudhamandapa directly, but both lie in the same row. While Gudhamandapa and Kunda are rectangular, the Sabhamandapa is in a parallelogram shape. It has been speculated by experts that this outer hall or dancing hall was added to the whole temple later, based on its style and construction, which is evident from its star-like aerial view.
● Kunda: The Reservoir
Also called Ramakunda or Suryakunda, this reservoir can throw you into magical hypnosis because of its intricate design. Enveloped with recessed steps from all directions, this place can give you magnificent sight now just during the normal days but on rainy days also, as the rainwater pours down the steps, depicting a waterfall, into the main reservoir.
By knowing these things your visit to the temple will become a lot more enjoyable and interesting.
Location | How To Reach Modhera Sun Temple | Timings
The shrine’s actual name is Sun Temple whereas Modhera is the name of the village where it is situated. The village lies in the Mehsana district of Gujarat. From Mehsana district, the village is located 26km away and on your way there you will surely be welcomed by the green-covered farmlands along with the serene Pushpavati River. To reach the Sun Temple of Modhera, you can use any mode of transportation.
● If you are thinking of taking the road then the distance between Modhera and Ahmedabad is around 100 km which will roughly take you around two hours. It is mostly considered to drive there as the whole place is blessed with serenading sights that will transport you to a peaceful mindset, creating space for the memories you are going to create while visiting Modhera.
● The train can only drop you in the Mehsana district after which you would have to catch a ride to reach the actual temple. And when it comes to air, the nearest airports to the district are ones in Ahmedabad.
Hence, no matter what you do, you will not be able to resist traveling through the road to Modhera which is surrounded by lush greenery and will surely give you a dose of freshness.
For all the people who have jobs and do not have the time on the weekdays to visit this enthralling place, don’t worry, the Modhera Sun Temple is open all days of the week, making the perfect weekend-fun destination for you. The visiting hours vary from 7 AM-6 PM.
Some Random Facts About The Modhera Sun Temple
To make your visit more interesting, we are jotting down some fascinating facts, that will surely make you crave visiting this place even more.
● No worship is offered here now. So save your wishes for some other temple, but the one thing you will surely find here in plenty is the art in the sculptures that depict different stories for every visitor. As this shrine is a monument of national importance hence it is taken care of by the Archeological Survey of India.
● Entering the UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites list in 2014, surely gave the long-awaited recognition all across the world, this temple deserved.
● The Garbhgriha or the shine proper is designed in such a manner that during summer equinox the first rays of sunrise will enter the temple and lighten up the sun god’s image.
● At noon, the sun shines directly on the top of the temple, casting no shadows.
Things To Do When Visiting The Temple
In order to elevate your experience of the Modhera Sun Temple, below are some things that you should definitely do there:
● The minute you enter this Sun Temple, you will notice the enchanting Kunda in all its glory, containing around 108 shrines, dedicated to various deities. Out of all these, do check out the Ganesh, Vishnu, and Shiva shrines, placed at three sides of the Kund while the main temple covers the fourth.
● Sabhamandap contains twelve sculptures of Lord Surya or also known as Aditya, each of them representing the sun according to the twelve months, creating a majestic scenery for watchers.
● The outer hall or dance hall or Sabhamandapa has 52 pillars as well, which depict a sequenced story. But not everyone can decipher it, hence, you would need to find a priest and request him to narrate the magical stories that hide behind the carvings of these rusty pillars.
● Plan your visit around the third week of January and you will surely be taken aback by the Modhera Dance Festival that is popularly known as the Uttarardha Mahotsav following the festival of Uttaryan. Various classic art forms are performed during these celebrations that will surely fill your visit with vibrant colored memories.
● For a worldly spiritual experience, visit the sanctum sanctorum or Garbhagriha and even though no ideals or deities are present there feel the gravity of prayers that were done there, bells that were rung there, and the fragrance of incense that was burnt there.
Ticketing Cost and Conclusion
The ticketing cost for Indians is fifteen rupees, for foreigners it is two hundred rupees and photography is allowed so that you can captivate your special moments in the temple easily. Whether you want to go through the involution that the sculptures and carvings speak of the times that they were brought to life by their craftsmen and the times that they were damaged in an invasion, or just sit in the tranquil environment created by the silence in the temple only to be disturbed by ruffling of leaves, no matter what excuse you pick to visit this place, you will surely not regret it.
The Modhera Sun Temple might not have any presiding deities today but you can still feel the sacred light that has been captured by the architecture, illuminating your soul with solace when you close your eyes.