Engrossing ornate Sun temple of Modehra, Gujarat - several inspiring facts

Sun temple, Modhera, Gujarat. gujarattourism.com

Above image: Sun temple, Modehra, Gujarat (11th century CE): Lord Rama, after defeating Ravana, wanted to get rid of the sin of having  killed  Ravana a Brahmin,  by birth)'On sage  Vasistha' advice  to free himself from   Brahma-thotsha Thosha  he had established the village -  Dharmaranya where he did yagna; village was later called Sitapur. The sun temple came up in 1026 CE.. The builder of the temple belonging to the  Solanki dynasty  was considered to be one of the Suryavanshis, or descendants of Sun god. During the Delhi Sultanate under Allauddin  Khilji reign, the temple was damaged. ..................................

The Hindu Temples of great antiquity have always been been an integral part of the cultural heritage  native to that region.  Across India there are hundreds of temples of historical value  built in various centuries in the past. Such temples showcase the innate skill , talents and workmanship of  the sculptors, artisans and masons of by-gone era who were good at giving proper shape to the structures they visualized in their mind. No doubt their amazing works of art are permanently frozen in stone leaving an  indelible mark on their capability in stone work and  engineering.   

11th Century.,Sun temple, Modhera, Gujaratmediaindia.eu

Above image:  Sabhamandapa with ornately carved pillars and exterior.......................

The Modhera Sun Temple  of Gujarat constructed by King Bhima I of the Chalukya dynasty in the early 11th century is a richly ornamental temple. You may rightly call it a sermon in stone. Located in  Modhera village of Mehsana district on the bank of River Pushpavati, this temple was built to honor  the Sun God.

Location map. Modhera, Gujarat. gujaratheadline.com

The following are several interesting facts: 

01. The east-facing Surya or Sun Temple at Modhera is the oldest one in Gujarat -having been built in  1026 CE, as per the inscription found at the site. 

02. This Hindu temple dedicated to the sun God Surya is not a functional one  like the Sun Temple in Konark.  No pujas or any other rituals are held here.  However, it became  a   UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2014. It is under the ASI. 

03. The temple complex  built in the Maha-Gurjara style, has three divisions  – Gudha Mandapa  (sanctum and the shrine hall), Sabha Mandapa (the assembly hall) and Kunda (the reservoir), each is inter connected.

Surya Kund, Sun temple, Modhera, GJ.  jatinchhabra.com

04. Step-well / tank called Surya kund or Rama kund  has a rectangular plan and has 108 miniature shrines at different levels. They have small images of dancing women  in different mudras.  Access to them is through  geometrically constructed stairways all around the tank and they exhibit a definite and fascinating pattern visible   from any direction.  

05. Three major shrines found in the kund on the three sides are  dedicated to Gods  Ganesha, Vishnu and Shiva.  Shiva in tandava (dancing posture) is facing the main temple. 

 06. Access to the hall called Ranga mandapa or Sabha mandapa from the kund is through the remains of an ornamentally pillared gateway - Kirti Torna.

Suntemple, Modehra, Gujarat. outlookindia.com

 Above image: The entrance to mantap - hall of the Sun Temple at Modhera.  Long and short pillars, semicircular and triangular arches ........................

07. The  carved pillars in the Sabha mantap are  richly  ornamental and on them are found  twelve representations of Sun God symbolic of    twelve months.  Adityas (12 in umber)  are  the sons of ‘Aditi’, the goddess of Infinity that is  constant within  the universe.

entrance to sanctum, sun temple, Modhera. jatinchhabra.com

08. Gudha mandapa, has three parts—the assembly hall, the vestibule and the sanctum - garbhagriha. or Srikovil   The ornamented  towering ceiling with spirals is missing now.

09. Ancient scriptures like Skanda Purana and Brahma Purana made references to Modhera Sun temple. 

10. The old texts also refer to Modhera and its surrounding areas as Dharmaranya or the forest of righteousness.

11. The temple architecture is well conceived, planned and executed  taking into account the astronomical aspects - the position of the Sun, etc. It is so conceived that  during every equinox, the first ray of the rising sun would fall on a diamond placed on the head of the Sun God. This would  light up the sanctum /garbagriha  with a golden glow.

12. The  richly ornamented Sabha Mandap  is being supported by   52 richly ornate  pillars, symbolizing  52 weeks in a year. Besides,  episodes of  epics and legends  carved in miniature  forms on the pillars  enhance the  grace of this temple and its divinity.   

13. The importance of  Pancha bootha  - five natural elements that are essential for humans to survive is emphasized in this temple. The exquisite  carvings of the sun on the walls  suggest   its unity with other important elements -  air, water, earth and space without which sustenance of life is difficult. In Hinduism, temples are supposedly a confluence of Pancha Booothas.
14. In order to promote tourism and to showcase the artistic mastery  of sculptors of past period,  the  Gujarat Tourism  conducts a three-day dance festival every year, known as the Uttarardha Mahotsav, at the temple every January after Makar Sankranti / Pongal  festival. 

15. Though Konark temple , Odisha and Modhera temple, Gujarat  dedicated to Vedic god Surya  fall more or less in the same  time- frame,  at  two different geographical locations of India, one  on the west coast and the other on the east coast, the latter is a bit lesser known. Part of the reason is the presence of numerous amazingly ornamental  step-wells with many tiers  and ornate mantaps - halls inside them. These ornamental step wells in Gujarat are quite popular and the  Modhera Sun temple  does not get the needed attention it is worthy of.  At Modhera  the richly carved  Pillars  recount the  episodes from the ancient  epics of the Mahabharata and the Ramayana. 

Modhera Sun Temple. Image Gallery: 

access road to Sun temple, Modhera, GJ.jatinchhabra.com

sanctum back view, Modhera sun temple, GJ  jatinchhabra.com

Surya kund and the tower Sun temple, commons.wikimedia.org,

.Modhera sun temple, Gujarat. storiesbysoumya.com

Ornate Modhera sun temple, Gujarat. ravenouslegs.com/blog

ornate pillar, mini shrines. Sun temple, Modhera, Gujarat, alamy.com

Surya kund, Sun temple, Modhera, Gujarat, alamy.com

Kund / tank.Sun temple, Modhera, Gujarat reddit.com

Sun temple, Modhera, Gujarat. gujarattourism.com

Kund / tank.Sun temple, Modhera, Gujarat  know-todays-news.com

carved pillars in the hall, Modhera sun temple, Gujarat,alamy.com

Modhera sun temple, Gujarat, dollsofindia.com

Amazing stone carving, Sun temple, Modhera. almy.com

Modhera sun temple, GJ youtube.com