|Sun Temple, Modhera,Gujarat. Kund. modhera.blogspot.com|
|Gudha mantap, Sun Temple, Modheragujarattourism.com|
|Tank and sun temple at Modheragujarat tourism.com|
|sun temple at Modherahistoricaltimeofindia.blogspot.com|
It is to be noted that the main proper shrine of the Sun Temple was constructed during 1024-25 when Bhima I of Chaulukya dynasty was the ruler. When Mahmud of Ghazni raided Bhima's kingdom he made a vein attempt to seize the kingdom of Modera, Historian A. K. Majumdar is of the opinion that the Sun Temple, it is likely, was built to commemorate this defence. The inscription "Vikram Samvat 1083", corresponding to 1026-1027 CE upside down carelessly made in Devnagari suggests possible destruction and reconstruction of the cella. As for the kunda (tank) with its corner shrines, it was built earlier in the beginning of the 11th century. The inscription mentioned above is presumably the date of destruction by Ghazni. King Bhima, having returned to the power built the temple proper, the miniature and the niche shrines in the tank shortly after 1026 CE. The dancing hall came up during the rule of of Karna in the third quarter of the 12th century along with the gateways, the porch of the temple proper and the door frames of the temple and the cella.
Architecture of this temple is in Chaulukya style. Built in Maru-Gurjara the temple complex is characteristic of three axially aligned components as normally one will find at many Hindu temples. They are, as mentioned earlier: the shrine proper (garbagriha) in a hall (Gudha Mandapa), the outer or assembly hall (Sabha Mandapa or Rangamandapa) and a sacred reservoir (kunda). The temple also has a pradakshina patha around the sanctum and a sabha mandap in front.
The distinctive feature is the assembly hall is not linked with the sanctum (garbagriha, rather it is a separate structure; however, both are on the same platform and built on a paved platform whose plinth is an inverted lotus-shaped. Their roofs, it is believed, collapsed long ago, and constructed with a different plan with a diameter of 15'.9''
|Modhera sun temple: Gudha mandapa/en.wikipedia.org|
|Modhera Sun temple. Reliefs on Gudha Mandap.en.wikipedia.org|
|sun temple at Modhera, Gudha mantap historicaltimeofindia.blogspot.com|
Gudha mandapa has base-mouldings. The outer walls of shrine are richly decorated. The base and walls of the shrine consist of several stretches with unique carvings. The pitha or adhisthana, is made of two square members. There is an inverted lotus like moulding called padma or padmaka. This is followed by several bands of mouldings. The broad band, patti is carved with elephants (gajathara). The following band narathara has figures of men in different attitudes.
Mandovara or wall mouldings have several decorated bands, starting with kumbha, a pitcher. There are panels decorated with figures of gods but the figures of Surya are placed more prominently than others as the temple is dedicated to him. Other panels are decorated with dancers and other figures.
The well-carved figure of Surya is within three niches of shrine proper as well as on the each side of three windows in the outer wall of Gudha mandapa. The eye-catching feature is the figures of Surya in standing position with two arms holding lotuses and driven by seven horses. There are 12 niches on the walls, bringing out the different aspects of Surya in each month. Other figures include eight Dikpals (Dwarapalaks: guards at the gate), Vishwakarma, Varuna, Agni, Ganesha, Saraswati. This is followed by shikhara which no longer exist. The Vimana possesses horizontal geometrical and figurative bands rising to create the Mount Meru-like shikhara.
The Mandap- hall has a big dome and is supported by eight principal pillars below arranged in an octagon, four pillars in front of shrine proper and two each in the recesses of windows and door.
02. Sabha mandapa: Sabha Mandapa also called Rangamandapa, is actually an assembly hall or dancing hall with rows of pillars opening entrance on each side diagonally. The exterior is extensively carved and has a series of recessed corners giving impression of the star like plan of it. There are 52 intricately carved pillars in the hall.
|Sabhamandapa with ornate pillars and exterior en.wikipedia.org|
|Modhera sun temple. Sabha mandapa,annotation of exterior mouldings,wikipedia|
Wall mouldings here have fine figures of dancers and gods known as rajasena. The is followed by sort of bands decorated with large panels of gods, goddesses and floral designs. There are erotic figures on it interrupted by rail-patterns.
Ceiling and torana enhance the beauty of this temple. The Pyramidal roof longer exists. Inside, the walnut-shaped ceiling has tiers with numerous floral girdles. It is 23 feet high and is supported by pillars arranged in an octagon. These pillars have stilts which in turn support the lintels.
The interesting feature is the Torana or the decorated cusped arches arising from the lower brackets of the pillars and touching the lintels in middle. There are semicircular and triangular arches. The lower brackets have makara; hence the name makara-torana while decoration gives the name - chitra-torana.
|Modhera sun temple.Sabha mantapa Long& short pillars, semicircular &triangular arches|
Iconography here is well depicted. The panels on the Gudha mandapa are decorated with Surya, the main deity of this temple. These images wears peculiar West Asian (Persian) boots and belt as in the Dakshinaarka temple at Gaya!! The other corners and niches are decorated with figures of Shiva and Vishnu in various forms, Brahma, Nāga and goddesses. The small flat ceilings and lintels of sabhamandapa has depictions from various episodes of the great epics like like the Ramayana.
Kirti-torana was the triumphant arch, in front of sabhamandapa. The pediment and torana do not exist but for two pillars. The moulding and decoration are similar to those on the walls of sabhamandapa and pillars. There were two more kirti-torana on each side of the kunda of which only one exists without upper part.
Kunda is actually a reservoir or water tank often referred to as Ramakunda or Suryakunda. The reservoir, rectangular in shape, is accessed through the flight of steps through kirti-torana. The main entrance is on the west side. It measures 176 feet from north to south and 120 feet from east to west. Paved with stones all around in a particular geometric pattern, there are four terraces and recessed steps to descend to reach the bottom of the tank. There are steps to reach from one terrace to another terrace. The steps are rectangular or square shaped except the first step of each flight of steps which is semicircular. There are several miniature shrines and niches in the front of terrace-wall and they carry the images of gods including many Vaishnavite deities and goddesses such as Shitala. These miniature shrines adorn the steps of the tank - which itself is an art gallery.
|Modhera: Massive pillars leading to the stepped tank outside the temple.en.wikipedia.org.|
When in 1026 CE, the Sun temple was built. during the same period or just prior, the Jain temples at Mount Abu by Vimal Shah, the Rudra Mahal temple at Siddhapur , the Somnath temple at Somnath, Patan came up. Interestingly, the grand Brihadeeswarar temple at Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu was built by Rajarajan much earlier in 1010 AD.