A visit (102 km drive from Ahmedabad) to the Sun Temple at Modhera, Gujarat is most definitely a riveting experience. It conveys a sense of teeming, over-spilling, self-delighting creation. The Sun Temple, built in 1026 AD by King Bhimdev of the Solanki dynasty, the creator of passion carved in stone, has been dedicated to the Hindu Sun-God, Surya. Unsullied by the trappings of concrete and steel, this place has plenty to offer.
We appropriately reached there under the blazing sun and almost choked with the heat. You need plenty of water to stand up there and take a deep breath. But then, if it was cloudy, the visual grace would have been lost. There was sprawling green lawn and garden in front of the temple which could cool our nerves to some extent. It appeared that the sunlight here gave everyone and everything a thorough soaking. We could not see the Archaeological museum as it was closed for some unknown reasons.
The magnificent temple shining under blue canopy was so designed that the first rays of the sun fell on the image of Surya, the Sun God, at the time equinoxes. We reached there almost at that time. The temple is to some extent in ruins after it was also finally destroyed by the Allauddin Khilji. However, the beauty is still there and enough has remained of the temple to get across its splendor and opulence. The sheer realization of the splendid equation between sunrays and rock surface are really awe-inspiring.
One of the glories of this place, and the joys depicted on the curved stone, was to see connections everywhere in this universe. The Sun temple, situated on the bank of the river Pushpavati, is of a unique architecture. Even though the sun was seemingly very harsh on us, the beauty of the artworks could never get lost.
The three segments of the temple comprise separate, axially aligned and integrated elements: Surya Kund, Sabha Mandap and Guda Mandap. The exterior of the temple walls has 12 different stances of Adityas - Sun God along with eight Hindu goddess.
The erotic art motifs displayed on the exterior wall of the main temple were magical and stunningly beautiful and there was continuous clicking of the shutters of digital cameras by the onlookers.
I was quite amazed by the sheer geometry of the Suryakunda, also known as Ramakunda. A large mind-blowing rectangular stepped tank under the eastern face of sabha mandap used to store pure water. It was quite natural that the Devotees were required to wash their body and soul here before worshiping the Sun God.
The arrangement of stone gave shape to a captivating work of art. We walked down the pyramid shaped stone steps, crossing four terraces in all, down to its base but the water was quite turbid and dirty too. In tune with the Hindu culture, 108 miniature shrines were carved in between the steps inside the tank. God and Goddess depicted in immortalized stone unfolded the rare sculpture and art.
We walked up to the Sabha Mandap (assembly hall) and entered through the two huge ornamental arches called Toran which formed a spectacular gateway. I was told that Gujarat Tourism organizes Dance Festival here in the backdrop of temple complex in the third week of January, every year amidst the brilliance and beauty.
This breathtaking pillared assembly hall is open from all sides and has 52 intricately carved pillars representing 52 weeks in a year. The carvings depict episodes from the Hindu epics of Ramayana, Mahabharata and Krishna Lila (i.e., story of Lord Krishna). I saw a couple stealing the darkness of the hall for some much needed privacy. The hall on the backside was not maintained properly and it was a shocker to see the dirt and bleary pigeons.
We were soaked in the ambience and did sink in sub-consciously in this natural splendor. Even though we were exhausted in the heat, we still managed to enjoy the spectacular view.
Someone told me if you have not been to Modhera, then you have not been to Gujarat. Modhera is the living heart of majesty depicting ancient history and the scene of dawn-to-dusk magic under bright sunlight is worth a look.
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