The Sun Temple in Modhera, Gujarat was built in the early 11th century by King Bhimdev, in dedication to the Hindu Sun-God, Surya. The temple’s magnificent exterior is intricately carved, and designed in such a way that the sun’s rays illuminate the temple’s sanctum at dawn during the equinoxes. Besides the sanctum, the temple has a pradakshina patha and a sabha mandap, as well as a Surya Kund, a massive tank with stunning miniature shrines that adorn its steps. Yahoo! reader DHARTI PATEL, a student of sculpture and art of Gujarat, shares her experience as she visits the temple of Surya.
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Temple & Kunda: The Sun Temple at Modhera’s dates back to early 11th century CE and was built by King Bhimdev I in 1026 CE.
Sabha Mandap View South West: The mandapa as usual is peristylar with an octagonal nave covered by a splendidly carved dome.
Sabha Mandap: This hall of religious gatherings is a magnificent pillared hall. It 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 Ramayan, Mahabharat and Krishna Lila (i.e., story of Lord Krishna).
Toran:Two huge ornamental arches called Torans form a gateway to the Sabha Mandap.
View of the Toran, north to south.
Front view of the Toran.
The exterior of the temple walls have 12 different postures of Aditya, the Sun God, along with eight Dikpals.
The eight Dikpalas are the Guardians of Direction, guarding specific directions of space. They are traditionally represented on the walls and ceilings of Hindu temples.
The inner half occupies the Garbhagriha and the front one the mandapa (hall). The sanctum sanctorum is 11 feet square inside. Between the outer walls of the sanctum sanctorum and that of the temple is the pradakshina marg (the circumambulatory passage). This passage was roofed with flat slabs laid across and carved with rosettes on the undersides and above this, rose the sikhara.
The exterior of the sanctum has many carved images of the Sun God, portrayed as wearing Irani Style Tiara, Long Shoes and Jeweled Belt.
The god Surya portrayed here with with seven horses.
Goddess Parvati with an apsara.
Goddess Parvati with dancing Shiva.
The Surya-kunda, also known as Rama-kunda is rectangular, and measures 176 feet north to south, by 120 feet east to west.
The Suryakund is a fine example of geometry and pattern art. It has108 miniature shrines carved between the steps inside the tank.
There are many terraces and steps leading to the water level. On its sides and corners are various small shrines with the images of gods and goddesses.
The missing Toran Arch: Outside this sabha-mandapa are two pillars of a toran from which the arch is missing. From the toran a flight of steps leads down to the kunda.
In viewing the Modhera temple as a whole the aesthetic sense at once responds to the elegance of its proportions, the entire composition being lit with the living flame of inspiration. But apart from its material beauty, its designer has succeeded in communicating to it an atmosphere of spiritual grace. The temple faces the east to that the rising sun at the equinoxes filters in a golden cadence through its openings, from door way to corridor, past columned vestibules finally to fall on the image in its innermost chamber.
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