The Sun temple is a wonderful example of cosmic architecture that connects earth, water, and outer space.

The Sun Temple at Modhera, India

The Sun temple was built in 1026-27 AD.  It celebrates Sun worship and is a wonderful example of architecture that unites earth, water, human existence and outer space. 

Getting there

Modhera is located approximately 100 kilometers from the city of Ahmedabad.  The best way to get there is by road.  According the ancient Indian epic Ramayana, Modhera is the mythological spot where lord Rama worshipped to absolve himself after killing King Ravana.  Another legend says that Modhera is named after a sect of Brahmins known as Modhs who helped Rama with his worship. 

An Indian Classical dancer at the Sun Temple

An Indian classical dancer at the Sun Temple 2

The tropic of Cancer

Modhera lies on the tropic of Cancer, where the Sun is directly overhead during the summer solstice.  The summer solstice occurs when the Earth’s Northern Hemisphere is tilted toward the Sun to its maximum extent.  That is also when you feel the heat and energy of the Sun to its fullest extent.  This cosmic alignment created an ideal setting for a temple to worship the Hindu deity Surya – the Sun God.

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Surya Kund with temples

Surya Kund with temples 3

The Celebration of Earth, Water and Outer Space

The main feature of the Sun temple is a large water reservoir, known as the Surya KundaThe journey to fetch water on a hot Sunny day is celebrated through a series of steps and shrines where one has ample opportunities to stop, worship, relax and ponder upon the power of Sun God and our place in this cosmos.  That is what makes this reservoir a sacred place.

The Sun temple at Modhera

The Sun Temple 4

The Sun temple

In addition to the Surya Kunda or the water reservoir, the temple complex has two axially aligned temple structures – the main temple known as the Garbhagriha and a communal hall known as Gudhamandapa.  One marvelous stroke of architectural brilliance is that on the days of Solar equinoxes i.e. 21st March and 21st September, the first rays of Sun fall on the statue of Surya in Garbhagriha.  Elaborate carvings on the exterior façade depict the entire human cycle from conception to the last breadth. The carvings include various deities and other erotic figures typical of the temples built in that era.

View of Surya Kund from the Sun Temple

View of Surya Kund from the Sun Temple 5

The Cosmic Architecture

Although the main statue of the Sun God Surya and portions of the roof structure were destroyed centuries ago, the Sun temple remains as a wonderful example of architecture that is in harmony with its geographical location in space and time. The cosmic architecture of the Sun temple continues to inspire architects, engineers and landscape architects from all parts of the world.

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