India is famous for its temples; there are temples for and about many things. One of them is the Sun! According to ancient literature, Indians (specifically Hindus) refer to sun as unlimited energy storage. Hence in olden times, sun temples were constructed to revere the sun god. Over 10 temples are present in various parts of India for sun salutation. Apart from India, sun temples are found in other countries like Egypt, Peru, Japan and China. Having been to Konark Sun temple already, I eagerly wanted to visit Modhera. Hence a weekend road trip was planned.
With marvelous architecture having intricate carvings, sun temples were designed in such a way that the sun’s rays illuminate the sanctum during equinox. I cannot imagine an engineer who thought about this somewhere in the year 1026 and executed it with such skilled craftsmanship.
How to Reach?
Modhera is located approximately 98 kms from Ahmedabad and one can self drive there or take a public bus to reach. Unfortunately the train connectivity is absent.
Rs. 15 for Indians and Rs. 200 for foreign tourists
Car parking extra – Rs. 20 per car
About Modhera Sun temple:
The first look of the Modhera Sun temple is what makes one fall in love with it! The beautiful reflection of the temple in a large tank built in front of it! We are immediately surrounded by guides who offer themselves to educate us with all the information about the temple. After a good deal, we cave in.
Like a pre recorded tape recorder he goes on to say:
The Sun Temple is divided into three parts namely Surya Kund (step well), Sabha Mandap (assembly hall) and Guda Mandap (main sanctum). The main temple faces east so that the rays of the sun lit the idol carved in the main shrine. The temple is depiction of sun and its unity with earth’s elements – air, water, soil & space.
He takes us around the temple first to show the carvings on the temple walls adorned with deities, birds, flowers and various stories from the Ramayana and Mahabharata. Now adorned by the pigeons (we also spotted a spotted owlet there – yaay the wildlife me!) and their droppings, there are idols symbolizing God Indra, Varuna and Vishwakarma. There are many erotic carvings on the wall like Konark which symbolize the human cycle of birth and death.
We then enter a beautifully carved arch to reach the Sabha Mandap which stands on 52 pillars and depicts 52 weeks in a year.
The guide then points to the main temple and says the idol was robbed by Mahmud Ghazni who took the original idol that was carved in gold. The temple was later destroyed by Alauddin Khilji. Even though the temple is restored now, there is no idol in temple. It would have been a world famous tourist site to witness the sunlight falling on the diamond on the head on sun god which would reflect and light up other idols places in the sanctum. Damn you Khilji!
At last we reach the step well which is 4 stories below the ground. Used as a water reservoir, the well is adorned with 108 miniature temples in the corners and in between these steps. The guide bids adieu after a guided 45 minutes tour to bask in the glory of Sun for some mind blowing photography.
Sustainable travel tips:
- Being an ancient heritage site which is already dwindling with age, respect the structures by not sitting on them. Sit outside the temple in the garden.
- Do not harm the structures by carving or writing on it
- Do not enter places which are closed off, there’s a reason why they are closed.
- Throw your garbage in the dustbins located at the entrance of each temple.
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