The Sun Temple at Modhera, India

The Sun temple was built in 1026-27 AD.  It celebrates the worship of Sun as a Hindu deity and is a wonderful example of architecture that connects earth, water, 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 Hindu epic Ramayana, Modhera is the mythological spot where lord Rama worshipped to absolve himself after killing a fellow Brahmin – 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 can be 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.

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 more axially aligned 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 equinoxes i.e. 21st March and 21st September, the first rays of Sun fall on the idol of Sun in Garbhagriha.  The exterior of the Sun temple has elaborate carvings that depict the entire life cycle of a human being from conception to the last rite.  There are also carvings of 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 idol of Sun God and the roof structure were removed by vandals many years ago, the Sun temple remains as a wonderful example of cosmic architecture that is in harmony with its geographical location both in space and time, as well as its rich cultural history.  The celebration to fetch water on a hot Sunny day and the resulting architectural experience have inspired generations of architects and landscape architects.

3 thoughts on “The Sun Temple at Modhera, India

  1. Pingback: Mimamsa Diary

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *