Monday, 27 July 2015

Modhera Sun temple (1026 AD), immortalized in stone, Gujarat

The Guda Mandap at the Sun Temple, Modhera,Gujarat. India. en.wikipedia. org
Stepped well.The Sun Temple at Modhera, Gujarat.kunzum.com
Sabha Mabtap.The Sun Temple, Modhera. historicaltimeofindia.blogspot.com
Mantap,The Sun Temple at Modhera. historicaltimeofindia.blogspot.com
A Hindu temple is a tapestry of various art forms, carvings of images in stones or wood. It is a classic representation of venerated images of gods, etc emanating from human imagination immortalised in stones. Such artistic works of yore done centuries ago captivate our imagination and when we visit such ornate  places, we simply stand there still mesmerised by them. The Sun temple at Modhera in Gujarat, the western part of India will not disappoint a visitor.
The Sun Temple,Modhera,Guda Mandap, kevinstandagephotography.wordpress.com
The Sun Temple, at Modhera in Gujarat, dedicated to the Hindu Sun-God, Surya is situated on the bank of the river  Pushpavati, 25 km from Mehsana and 102 km from Ahmedabad. Built in 1026 AD by King Bhimdev of the Solanki dynasty presently, as ill luck would have it,  no prayer or shikhara is offered here. It is being maintained by ASI, Government of India.

According to the Skanda Purana and Brahma Purana, Lord Rama, having killed Ravana, the king of Langa who abducted his consort Sita, came here asked Maharishi Vasishta to show him a place where he can get rid of the sin of  Brahma-hatya (killing a Brahmin). Because King Ravana happened to be a Brahmin by birth. Saint Vasishta showed him Dharmaranya, which was near the modern town of Modhera.  Lord Rama performed a Yagna there and founded a village called Sitapur which was later known as Modhera.
Stepped well.The Sun Temple, at Modhera in Gujarat,deshgujarat.com
Rushabh Bhimdev I of Solanki Dynasty built the temple in AD 1026. Solankis were considered as descendants of the Sun God. Somnath and the adjoining area was plundered by Mahmud Ghazni, the temple was rebuilt later. The temple was severely damaged during the later Muslim invasion by  Allauddin Khilji. The Sun temple is a unique example of the architectural excellence during the Solanki period. Upon a visit to this place one will be struck by the serene surroundings, the proper planning,  workmanship and hard work that went into this monumental work roughly a 1000 years ago.  

The sun temple has three parts lying on an east-west axis - Surya Kund, Sabha Mandap and Guda Mandap.  There is a large rectangular stepped water tank measuring 53.6 x 36.6  called Suryakund or Ramakund and it was built for the devotees to bathe and perform ceremonial ablutions before worshiping the Sun God.

In the stepped well, the steps leading down to the bottom are built in a  variety of impressive geometrical patterns that draw your attention. There are 108 miniature shrines carved in between the steps inside the tank. There are four terraces to reach the bottom and at certain places the images of God and goddesses including Shiva and Vishnu beautifully fashioned in stones.

All steps take us right into Sabha mandap and Antara which is 
the  assembly hall consisting of 52 ornate, beautifully carved pillars, representing 52 weeks. the carvings show scenes from the great epics - the Ramayana and Mahabharata. There are scenes from Krishna Leela too. 

Between the Sabha Mandapa and the sanctum sanctorum lies  a beautifully carved hall with pillars and arches. The 12 niches on the wall represent the different aspects of the Sun God in each month.
Sanctum sanctorum or  Garbagruha is a place of veneration and sanctity.  The temple complex built on the Tropic of Cancer was so designed that the dazzling rays of the sun illuminate the inner part of the Garbagruha and during equinox (20 March and 21 September) fall on the ornamented sun God's  Golden idol - Sun riding on his chariot driven by Saarthi Arun with seven horses and Saarthi Arun sits on the fourth one. It was built by the rulers  Solankis in honor of their ancestral God - The Sun. Unfortunately, the entire golden idol along with heaps of gold coins placed below the idol were ransacked by Mohammed Gazni when he invaded Somnath and other places.

The exterior wall of the temple has 12 different posture of Aditya (the Sun God). The walls exhibit numerous sexual iconography and, it is believed, during the days of Solanki dynasty, particularly at a time when the Sun Temple construction was on, people considered sex a part of life. It was neither considered a moral act, nor was it suppressed. People looked upon it as an act of fertility and continuity of generation.

The Modhera Sun temple is a fascinating place for a connoisseur of temple arts and sculptures. You will see work of art, stone carvings, images, etc.,  all over the places on the walls, on the roofs, steps, etc. When a visitor leaves this place, in the first two days or so he will be haunted by the beauty and workmanship of this temple.

The Modhera dance festival,  that reflects on the ancient history and rich cultural tradition of the region, is celebrated in the 3rd week of January.

Ref:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sun_Temple,_Modhera

3 comments