The origin of the worship of the Sun in India is several centuries old. Until now I had known about and visited only the Konark Sun Temple in Odisha. It was only a few months back that we came to know about the Modhera Sun Temple, in Mehsana, Gujarat. Situated on the banks of Pushpavati River, this sun temple was built by King Bhimdev of the Solanki dynasty.
What remains now of this grand architectural marvel are the parts that survived attacks by Mahmud Ghazni & Allaudin Khilji. It has been declared a UNESCO world Heritage site since 2014.
Built in Maru-Gurjara style (Chaulukya style),the Temple is divided into three parts namely
- Surya Kund
- Sabha Mandap and
- Guda Mandap
The water tank or Surya Kund is a stepwell on the eastern edge of the Temple complex. It is said that originally there were 108 shrines on these steps. It is difficult to count how many of them remain, but the breathtakingly beautiful geometric formation of the big and small steps is hard to miss.
In front of this tank, a huge ‘torana’ (archway) leads to the Sabha Mandap.
Open from all the four sides, the Sabha Mandap has 52 delicately carved pillars, representing 52 weeks of the year. The intricate carvings depict scenes from the Ramayana, Mahabharata (Indian Epics) and scenes from the life of Lord Krishna.
Guda Mandap is the sanctum sanctorum that is supported by a lotus-base plinth. The Sun temple is so designed that on the days of equinoxes i.e. 21st March and 21st September, the first rays of sun fall on the idol of Sun in Garbhagriha.
The Modhera Dance Festival takes place every year near the Sun temple, during the month of January. It coincides with the popular Gujarati festival of ‘Uttarayan’ and is celebrated for three days.
How to reach
Nearest airport is Ahmedabad, approximately 100 kms
Nearest railway station is Mehsana, 26 kms away
A drive to Modhera from Ahmedabad city takes around 2 hrs with a short pit stop.
Travel tip :
When in Modhera, plan a visit to Patan, which is popular for its Patola sarees.
Try to time your visit somewhere near sunset. You are surely going to remember the sunset hues on the grand temple Toranas for a long time to come.