Our first destination during the tour of Gujarat was Modhera, home to the Sun Temple. Modhera is a small town in North Gujarat, located on the banks of river Pashupati.
Sun Temple is dedicated, as the name well suggests, to the Hindu God ‘Surya’- The Sun. The temple was constructed during the rule of King Bhima 1 of the Chalukya dynasty in 1026-1027 CE.
The temple complex is divided into three parts. The first is Gudha Mandapa (The shrine hall), next is the Sabha Mandapa (Assembly hall) and the last is the Kunda (Reservoir).
Gudha Mandapa and Garbhgriha….
The Gudha Mandapa is divided into two equal parts; the Gudha mandapa and the Gribha griha (The sanctum sanctorium). The sanctum sanctorium is a 11 ft by 11 ft square. It is so designed that the first rays of the sun lit up the image of Surya on the solar equinox days. On summer equinox day the sun directly shines above the temple at noon, casting no shadow. The sanctum sanctorium does not have a statue of the deity now.
The walls inside the shrine are plain and the outer wall is decorated. The doorway has carved figures of seated Surya in panels surrounded by dancers and amorous couples.
The base and walls of the shrine and hall are divided into several stretches with unique carvings. The figures of Surya are prominently carved on three niches of shrine proper as well as on each side of three windows in the outer wall of Gudhamandapa. The figures of Surya is in standing position with two arms holding lotuses and driven by seven horses. The walls have 12 niches showing the different aspects of Surya in each month.
Sabhamandapa or Rangamandapa, the assembly hall or dancing hall is parallelogram in plan with rows of pillars opening entrance on each side diagonally. There are 52 intricately carved pillars representing 52 weeks of the year.
Kunda, a tank or reservoir is known as Ramakunda or Suryakunda. It is rectangular. It measures 176 feet from north to south and 120 feet from east to west. There are 108 miniature shrines on the fligfht of tseps leading to the reservoir. The three main shrines on the three sides of the kunda are dedicated to the three Hindu Gods Ganesha, Vishnu and Shiva.
108 is considered as a sacred number in Hindu religion. Mathematicians of Vedic culture viewed 108 as a number of the wholeness of existence. The average distance of the Sun and the Moon to Earth is 108 times their respective diameters. According to yogic tradition, there are 108 pithas, or sacred sites, throughout India. And there are also 108 Upanishads and 108 marma points, or sacred places of the body.
My visit to Sun temple was due to a ‘pull’ and not because of any ‘religious push’. The place radiates with positive energy. As I went around the temple a certain feeling of calmness filled the mind and the body. It is not the architecture or the history or mythology but the place as such which captures your imagination and holds your attention. There cannot be a better place to take break from the hustle of the city.
I will strongly recommend for people who can afford to definitely visit the Sun Temple at Modhera. The temple has no deity nor any religious activity takes place in the temple but still one feels complete and aligned with Creator.
Please enjoy the slide show, it will take you around the temple and hopefully make you feel one with nature.