Modhera is located in the western Indian state of Gujarat. The town
extends between the latitude 23.42° in the North to longitude 72.37° in
the East. The place is well connected to other places in the region with
a good network of roads.
According to the Skanda Purana and Brahma Purana, the areas near Modhera
were known during ancient days as Dharmaranya. These Puranas mention
that after defeating Ravana, Lord Rama asked Muni Vasistha to show him a
place of pilgrimage where he could go and purify himself from the sin of
'Brahma-hatya' (the sin of killing a Brahmin). Muni Vasistha showed him
a Dharmaranya, which was near the modern town of Modhera. In the
Dharmaranya, he settled at a village Modherak and performed a yagna
there. Thereafter he established a village and named it Sitapur. This
village is about 8 km from Becharaji Modherak village and it
subsequently came to be known as Modhera.
Sun Temple was built by Raja Bhimdev I of Solanki lineage (who were believed to be Suryavanshis) in AD
1026. The temple bears some resemblance to the more renowned Sun Temple
of Konark, which it predates by some 200 years. Like the temple at
Konark, it was so designed that the first rays of the sun fell on the
image of Surya, the Sun God, at the time equinoxes. The temple is
partially in ruins, but despite the passage of time, it continues to
reveal the architectural genius, the sculptor's virtuosity, and, of
course, the devotional fervor of the times.
SITES TO VISIT
The Sun Temple at Modhera has been
divided into three main compartments. The first is the Surya Kund, a fascinating massive
rectangular stepped tank. Because of the restoration work that is being
carried out here by the Archeological Survey of India, the tank now
stands dry; but in the days of yore it was believed to be full of nirmal
jal (holy water). Devotees on their way to offer prayers to the Sun God
would be required to first stop here for ceremonial ablutions and only
then proceed for worship towards the temple.
miniature shrines dot the steps around the Kund. There are 108 of them
to coincide with the number considered auspicious by the Hindus.
Besides these, there are four larger shrines dedicated to Vishnu,
Ganesha, Shiva and Sitala Mata, the last mentioned being the goddess of
the dreaded disease smallpox. And upon letting the imagination wander,
one can almost imagine the intense religious activity that once would
have been the hallmark of the place-air thick with a soothing incense
smell, flowers floating on the water surface, devotees chanting aloud
and offering prayers hoping to be blessed by the Lord Surya, all against
the backdrop of the benign twin structures.
Several small steps from the Kund lead up to the enchanting Sabha Mandap commonly described as
"a magnificent style of pillared splendor". 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. Each of these is
intricately carved with every inch of available space recounting scenes
form Ramayana, Mahabharata and the Krishna Leela (the childhood antics
of Lord Krishna). One cannot but be charmed by the artistry and skill of
the artisans of the time and, of course, the Solankis to have recognized
it and given them due patronage.
Based on a lotus-base plinth, the façade of this structure is also
stunning and warrants close attention. Friezes of gods and goddesses
cover the walls, besides which one can also see various aspects of human
life- the cycle of birth and death and some erotic scenes from the Kama
The Guda Mandap contains yet another
incredible structure, a surang (tunnel), the other end of which is
believed to emerge at Patan, the headquarter of the Solankis. In case of
attacks, these tunnels provided the ideal escape routes for the kings
and members of the royal family to flee to safety.
Unjha is a little town and a base
for those visiting the Modhera temple. The town of Unjha is known for
the marriage customs of the Kadwakanbis who live in this region.
10 km from Unjha is Sidhpur where
one can find the very fragmented ruins of an ancient temple.
Mahesena is around 34 km away from
Modhera and a popular base for the tourists visiting Modhera.
HOW TO REACH
The nearest airport is Ahmedabad around 102 km away. Ahmedabad is
connected by most of the domestic airlines with other important cities
in the country.
around 16 km from Modhera, is the nearest railway station. Another
convenient railway station from this place is Mahesena. There are
regular trains to Ahmedabad from this place.
There are regular buses
from Modhera to other destinations of the region including Ahmedabad and