Sun Temple, Modhera, Gujarat, India

Deity: Lord Surya/Sun
Location: On the banks of Pushpavati river in Modhera, Gujarat
Built by: King Bhimdev of the Solanki dynasty
Attraction: Marvellous architectural work
Significance: One of the few Sun Temples across the country

Modhera or Modherapura also known as Mundera is said to have been the original settlement of modha Brahmans. The remains of an ancient Sun Temple at Modhera draw hundreds of tourists, to this village 30 km south of Patan, near Ahmedabad. The Sun Temple was built by Raja Bhimdev I of Solanki .Solankis were considered to be Suryavanshis, or descendants of Sun god. The temple was so designed that the first rays of the sun fell on the image of Surya, the Sun God, at the time equinoxes.

The Sun Temple at Modhera dates back to early 11th century CE and was built by King Bhimdev I in 1026 CE. It was during the same period that the Jain temples at Mount Abu were constructed by Vimal Shah. The Rudra Mahal temple at Siddhapur also dates back to this period.  Also re-constructed at the same time was the Somnath temple at Somnath Patan. Interestingly, the grand Brihadeeswarar temple at Thanjavur in South India was constructed during the same time.

Even in its ruined state, the sun temple at Modhera is magnificent. There is no worship offered here now. There is no shikhara either. The temple has a sanctum, a pradakshina patha and a sabha mandap in front. The exterior of the sanctum has many carved images of the Sun God, portrayed as wearing a belt and long shoes as in the Dakshinaarka temple at Gaya. The mandapa in front of the sanctum has beautifully carved pillars with exquisite toranas adorning the entrances. The exterior of this temple is intricately carved. In front of the temple is a colossal tank, which was once known as Surya Kund or Rama Kund. The tank has a series of carved steps leading to the bottom. Several miniature shrines adorn the steps of the tank – which is an art gallery in itself.

History:
According to the Skanda Purana and Brahma Purana, the areas near Modhera were known during ancient days as Dharmaranya (literally meaning the forest of righteousness). According to these Puranas, Lord Rama, after defeating Ravana, asked sage 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, because ravan was a Brahmin by birth). Sage Vasistha showed him 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.

Festival:
Modhera dance festival is the major festival that is observed by the Sun Temple. This dance festival is organized to keep the Indian traditions and culture alive. It is held in the third week of January every year. The classical dance forms in the premises of this temple revive the imperial ambiance during the period.

How to reach:
One can easily reach Modhera Sun Temple by taking regular Buses or by hiring taxis from anywhere in Gujarat.

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