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Friday, December 11, 2015

Sun Temple,Modhera,Gujarat

Its nearly two years since I updated my blog!! The growing popularity of Facebook probably has affected the blogs in general and particularly in my case. But a blog has its own space especially when we are looking for a post on particular topic or posting images which have a sequence or connection.
After returning from a much awaited , short holiday in Gujarat , mainly in the wilderness of Little Rann of Kutch , I thought of reviving my blog with pictures of two architectural masterpieces of eleventh century in western India . The first of the two posts is about the Sun Temple of Modhera.
We stayed in a place called Patadi in Surendranagar district ,Gujarat to visit Little Rann of Kutch (LRK ). After completing our stay of two nights at Patadi on our way back to Ahmedabad we decided to take an extended journey by visiting Modhera and Patan.
Ancient India had many Sun temples and there were significant population of Sun God worshippers. But with time their number decreased and over centuries the temples were either destroyed or damaged. Only few Sun temples exist today. The Sun temple of Konark in Odisha is well known to everyone , many are not familiar with this Sun temple in Western India .
 Modhera , town in Mehsana district of Gujarat is about 100 kms from Ahmedabad .The temple is located right on the Tropic of Cancer at 23°  North of equator and while driving towards Modhera , a sign board at Becharaji town reminds you about your location on the tropic of cancer.
      Modhera Sun temple was built in the year 1026 AD by the king Bhimdev I of Solanki dynasty  and in ten years from now will be completing 1000 years !!. Though it is not as well known as the Sun temple of Konark, Modhera temple was actually built 200 years earlier to Konark.
          The temple complex  built in East-West direction has an welcome arch which is broken by invaders . There is a waterbody -Surya Kund right in front of temple and is meant for devotees to have cleansing  rituals before entering temple . Surya kund  also known as Ramakund is an architectural marvel with four levels of steps to reach the water. The steps are interlaced with 108  small shrines all round , coinciding with 108 beads in Rudrakshi mala ( Hindu rosary ). There are four bigger shrines in corners .
The temple is separated from main hall called Sabha mantap by a narrow passage. The Sabha mantap is another architectural marvel .This is the place that was meant for religious gatherings and conferences. Open on all sides with four doorways, the piece de resistance is its unique walnut-shaped ceiling supported by 52 spectacular pillars. These 52 pillars represent 52 weeks of the year. Each of these is intricately carved with every inch of available space recounting scenes form Ramayana, Mahabharata and the Krishna Leela.The exterior of the Sabha mantap has twelve idols of Sun depicting Sun in twelve different months of the year. Also there are carvings from epics, Life ,death and rituals etc. Again you will never see an inch of stone without art!
Like many ancient Indian Temples there are sculptures depicting sexual position from Vatsayana Kamasutra .
     The main temple is behind Sabha mantap and has sanctum sanctorum and all three parts of the complex are axially aligned. The main complex is built on stone plinth in the shape of inverted lotus considering the relationship of sun to Lotus.It is designed such that the first rays of sun on days of time equinox ( March 20, September 21 ) fall on the golden idol of Surya and lights up  the whole temple . The idol of Surya was supposed to be in gold and studded with diamonds. Entire golden idol with golden chariot and horses were placed in a pit 15 feet deep and filled with  goden coins.The idol were taken away by Mohamad Ghazni who invaded the kingdom of Solanki .Today the temple remains a heritage site ,maintained in an excellent way by Archeological society of India.

A view of Sabha mantap

A side view of temple complex

 Frontal View of temple, Suryakunj,

Sabha Mantapa ,

Interior of Sabha mantapa

Sabha mantapa

Main temple with sanctus sanctorum also called Guda mantap

                       One of Idol of Sun God on the wall of Sabha mantap,there are twelve such idols

             Another Sun Idol
Erotic sculptures on wall

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