My recent trip to Gujarat has been a revelation. Though I’ve grown up in Ahmedabad and Baroda, I never knew what Gujarat had in store. All the advertisements with Big B or their Vibrant Gujarat campaign truly reflect the culture and diversity of the state. For instance, every lane in the walled city of Ahmedabad has a tale to tell. The Ahmedabad Heritage Walk is one activity that I recommend all of you take whenever you are in the city. The Adalaj ni Vav is an architectural marvel in itself. Or even the Rani ki Vav which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site for the intricate carvings and majestic architecture.
And these are just a few places that I’ve visited, I’m sure there are hundreds of such important places in Gujarat that are yet to be explored. Continuing with the Gujarat exploration series, this time I got a chance to witness the stunning Modhera Sun Temple. And I was there at the best time to visit Modhera Sun Temple. Read on to find out why I say so!
History of Modhera Sun Temple
Technically this wasn’t my first visit to the Modhera Sun Temple, I had been here when I was in the 1st grade in our brand new Maruti 800. I remember we drove all the way from Ahmedabad to Modhera for this. Located in Modhera, a town in the Mehsana district of Gujarat, the Modhera Sun Temple is about 100 kms from Ahmedabad. The roads are fairly good for the most part of the journey making it a great one day trip from Ahmedabad. Tickets can be bought at the venue by scanning a QR code.
Build during the reign of Bhima 1 of the Solanki Dynasty and follows the Maru Gujara style of architecture. This form of architecture is a characteristic of the Solanki period which is characterised by sharp cuts & recesses on the outside and equally (if not more) carved interior. Even the Rani Ki Vav was built using the same style. The Modhera Sun temple was built to worship the Sun god. It is built strategically at 23.6 degrees latitude making it extremely close to the Tropic of Cancer. It is believed that due to this, the first rays of the sun hit the idol back on the day of the solar equinox.
Currently, no worship takes place in the premise and is a protected monument by the Archeological Survey of India. Few historians also believe that the Modhera Sun temple might have been built to commemorate the successful defence by Bhima’s army against the advancing Muhammad Ghazni back in 1026 CE.
Fine architecture at Sun Temple Modhera
The entire temple complex has three main areas. The Garbhagriha is located inside the Gudhamandapa, the outer hall Sabhamandapa and the Kund, a sacred reservoir. The main sanctum – Garbhagriha – was the home to the idol back in the day. Located within the Gudhamandapa, the Garbhagriha has intricate patterns across the pillars and ceilings. The Sabhamandapa on the other hand is an architectural marvel in itself. Resembling a parallelogram, there are four identical entrances to the Sabhamandapa which also has 52 intricately carved pillars each representing a week in a year. The kund or the reservoir is a stepped tank with geometrically aligned stairs going down giving an amazing view to the eyes.
Talking about the carvings, the Modhera Sun Temple will leave you spellbound with the carvings. A temple that is this old still has carvings that are quite recognizable. An inverted lotus is quite evident along with a lot of elephants all around the Garbhagriha. The heavily decorated outer walls have Surya in various forms along with Vishwakarma, Varun, Ganesh and Saraswati to name a few. The figures of Surya are quite clearly visible on most sides of the Gudhamandapa. Another thing that you will notice is the erotic sculptures at the base of the temple on all sides. These are similar to those found at the Khajurao temple and the Konark Sun Temple.
Best Time to Visit Modhera Sun Temple
I’m sure you would have already researched about the best time to visit Modhera Sun Temple, however, what I’m going to mention here would mostly be different from whatever you would have read until now. In terms of the months of the year, I feel that post-October is a great time to visit almost any place in India as the winter is kicking in and the weather is pleasant across the country.
Having said that, the best time to visit Modhera Sun Temple is around 3-4 PM. Why?
First of all, the entry at Modhera Sun Temple closes at 5:30 PM. Second of all, by the time you explore the temple, the sun would be setting in leading to dramatic scenes in the sky. The orange and hues on the blue sky paint quite a picture. Just sit and enjoy the sunset at the Modhera Sun Temple as listen to the birds chirp away. As the natural light fades away, the artificial light kicks in giving a whole new look to the sun temple.
The night view of the Modhera Sun Temple is nothing short of stunning. Brightly lit golden coloured sun temple stands tall in all its glory giving the visitors a treat to their eyes. Though you are not allowed to be on the premises of the temple, you can stand near the reservoir and appreciate the centuries-old temple come to life with 21st-century lights! So if you ask me, that’s the best time to visit the Modhera Sun Temple – 3-PM in the evening.
The Modhera Sun Temple is a symbol of human craftsmanship. The finesse with which the carvings are done with the hand is unthinkable in today’s world. It is also said that there was no plaster used to secure the pillars. It is purely the design and the architecture that is holding the entire temple together. Every year Gujarat Tourism organizes a 3-day festival at the Sun temple around Makar Sankranti – Uttarayan as it is known locally. Scores of artists from across the country perform here and add more glory to the already stunning Modhera Sun Temple.
That’s all about my trip to Modhera Sun Temple and I’d say I’m lucky that I visited the sun temple at the best time. Had I gone during the day, I would have surely missed the illuminated sun temple which is a sight to behold. So the next time you are planning a trip to the Modhera Sun temple, you know what is the best time to visit! Let me know your thoughts about this blog post in the comments below, tweet to me at @Atulmaharaj, DM on Instagram or Get In Touch.