Sun Temple

Modhera, Mehsana, Gujarat

#Historical and Heritage


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No worship is offered now and is protected monument maintained by Archaeological Survey of India. The temple complex has three components: Gudhamandapa, the shrine hall; Sabhamandapa, the assembly hall and Kunda, the reservoir. The halls have intricately carved exterior and pillars. The reservoir has steps to reach bottom and numerous small shrines.

The Sun Temple was built during the reign of Bhima I of Chaulukya dynasty in 1026-1027 (Vikram Samvat 1083). Earlier, during 1024-25, Mahmud of Ghazni had invaded Bhima's kingdom, and a force of around 20,000 soldiers had unsuccessfully tried to check his advance at Modhera. Historian A. K. Majumdar theorizes that the Sun Temple might have been built to commemorate this defence.

The temple is built on 23.6° latitude (approximately near Tropic of Cancer). The place was later known as Sita ni Chauri and Ramkund locally. No worship is offered here now. The temple is Monument of National Importance and is maintained by Archeological Survey of India.

 

Architecture

The Gudhamandapa measures 51 feet 9 inches by 25 feet 8 inches. It is almost equally divided into Gudhamandapa, the hall and garbhgriha, the shrine proper. Both are rectangular in plan with one projection on each of the smaller sides and two projections on each of the longer sides. This projections on the smaller sides form the entrance and the back of shrine. The three projections of outer wall of Gudhamandapa had windows on each side and the east projection had the doorway. These windows had perforated stone screens; the northern is in ruins and the southern is missing. Pradakshinamarga is formed by the passage between the walls of garbhgriha and the outer walls of gudhamandapa. The roof of passage has stones slabs carved with rosettes. The Shikhara of the it no longer exists.

Sabhamandapa or Rangamandapa, the assembly hall or dancing hall is parallelogram in plan with rows of pillars opening entrance on each side diagonally. The extensively carved exterior has series of recessed corners giving impression of the star like plan of it. There are 52 intricately carved pillars. Madhusudan Dhaky has suggested that the sabhamandapa may has been later addition based on style and construction.

Kunda, a tank or reservoir is known as Ramakunda or Suryakunda. The flight of steps through kirti-torana leads to the reservoir. It is rectangular. It measures 176 feet from north to south and 120 feet from east to west. It is paved with stones all around. There are four terraces and recessed steps to descend to reach the bottom of the tank. The main entrance lies on west. There are steps to reach from one terrace to another on right angle to terrace. These steps are rectangular or square except the first step of each flight of steps which is semicircular. Several miniature shrines and niches in front of terrace-wall have images of gods including many Vaishnavite deities and goddesses such as Shitala.

 

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