Imagine the sun setting behind a Sun temple. The dramatic colours of the sky with a spectacular temple structure in the foreground seems straight out of a movie. The scene is something that can only be felt and seen and any words to describe it seems less. And this is exactly what happened when I visited the Modhera Sun temple.
I was awed and stunned by the architecture of the Modhera Sun temple and its stepwell. The detailed work and the pillars of the temples were absolutely amazing and is one of the best I have seen during my travels in India.
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About Modhera Sun Temple
Dedicated to Lord Surya, the Modhera Sun temple is a 11th century temple located in Modhera of Gujarat state in India. The ancient Hindu temple is near the Tropic of Cancer on the banks of Pushpavathi River.
According to mythology, Modhera has been mentioned in Skanda and Brahma Puranas. It is believed that the walk in the Sun temple from the Kund to Gudamandappa is observed as a journey from death to moksha.
Gujarat tourism organises a three day dance festival every year known as Uttarardh Mahotsava during the third week of January. The festival represents and celebrates various dance forms.
If you love attending festivals, then definitely refer the Rann Utsav that happens during the winter months in Gujarat.
The best time to visit the Modhera Sun temple is either in the mornings or evenings during sunset. The afternoons are very sunny and hot and you will not have a pleasant time at the temple. Also, it is best to visit Gujarat between the months of October and February as the weather is pleasant.
History of Modhera Sun Temple
Built during the reign of King Bhima I of Chalukya dynasty, the Modhera Sun temple dates back to 1024-1025 C.E. There is no concrete evidence of the dates but there is an inscription placed upside down in the complex, written in Devnagari script, that shows the dates.
The temple was first robbed by Muhmad Ghazni and then by Alauddin Khilji. They looted the temple and the treasures that existed under the idol of Lord Surya. Unfortunately, the idol of Lord Surya was destroyed by Alauddin Khilji and hence, the main temple shrine is no more used for worshipping by the Hindus. The complex is now maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India.
Architecture and characteristics of Modhera Sun Temple
The Modhera Sun temple is built in the Maru-Gurjara style of architecture, which was originated under the Chalukya dynasty. Between the 11th and 13th centuries, the Maru-Gurjara architectural style became famous in Gujarat and Rajasthan. It is also called as the Solanki style.
The Sun temple structure is built on an inverted lotus and showcases the carvings and structures from human birth to death. It also has details representing the scenes from mythological stories of Ramayana, Mahabharata and Krishna Leela.
The main deity of the Sun temple is Lord Surya even though it is now destroyed and not worshipped. The idol is in a standing position on a chariot with 7 horses and holding the lotuses with two arms. It was surely surprising to see Lord Surya wearing the western boots and belts showcasing a possible Persian influence.
The temple has various figures of Lord Surya throughout and the walls have 12 different aspects of Lord Surya indicating the 12 months. Other deities on the walls include Shiva, Vishnu, Brahma and Naga in many forms.
The temple shrine has Gudhamandappa and Garbhagriha.
- Garbhagriha is where the main deity resides and is now in a pit. It is locked and the visitors cannot go inside as it is dangerous. The temple is designed in such a way that the first rays of sun on an equinox would fall on the diamond stud that was placed on Lord Surya’s idol. This in turn would light up the entire temple shrine.
- Gudhamandappa is a passage with pillars and a hall. The pillars have stories and scenes from the mythological stories. Each carving and statue is so intricate and detailed and every corner of these pillars have a story to tell. The panels in Gudhamandappa are decorated around Lord Surya indicating that the temple belongs to Lord Surya.
The assembly hall known as Sabha mandap has 52 pillars representing the 52 weeks of the year. As the name suggests, this was built for religious gatherings and conferences. The hall has slabs, along the walls, constructed for pilgrims to sit and rest.
Kund or stepwell
The Suryakund, Ramakund or just the Kund is a stepwell consisting of four terraces and geometric steps and was used as a reservoir that may have been filled initially by an underground spring. The stepwell is decorated with many shrines with many images of Gods and Goddesses, including Vaishnavite deities and Shitala.
Old Shiva temple
The Modhera Sun temple complex also has an old Shiva temple that is dedicated to Lord Shiva in the form of Linga. This is a place that is still worshipped.
- Make sure to leave your footwear outside the temple.
- The Modhera Sun temple is open everyday between 7 AM and 6 PM.
- There is an entrance fee of INR 25 for Indian nationals and INR 300 for Foreign nationals to go inside the temple complex.
- The complex also has a shop that sells water, ice cream and cold drinks.
- You can hire a government affiliated guide to listen to the stories.
- Even though it is not a site where It is a religious site even though it is not worshipped anymore so dress appropriately.
How to get to Modhera?
- Airport – The nearest airport is at Ahmedabad, which is around 80 kilometres from the Sun temple. Most of the international and domestic airline providers stop at Ahmedabad.
- Train – The nearest railway station to Modhera is Mehsana railway station, which is around 25 kilometres away. Up to date information on trains can be found on IRCTC website.
- Drive – The distance between Ahmedabad and Modhera Sun temple is about 100 kilometres and the journey by road takes about 2 hours.
- Bus – Modhera is well connected with buses from Ahmedabad. The buses are run by Gujarat State Road Transport Corporation (GSRTC) and the ticket is just around INR 120 per person for one way.
Safety for solo female travelers
The Modhera Sun temple is a monitored premises and hence is very safe for solo female travelers. I did not have any issues whatsoever. Like any other place in the world, be careful and know your surroundings, especially at night.
Note: I visited the Modhera Sun temple as part of a trip that was organised and hosted by Gujarat tourism. And hence I did not visit this temple alone.
The Modhera Sun templs is surely one of the must visit places in Gujarat. It is beautiful and it is an amazing temple, especially for architecture or temple lovers. I loved visiting the temple and had a lovely time listening to the guide.
Have you visited the Modhera Sun temple? What did you love about it? Let me know in the comments below.
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