Modhera Sun Temple - Surya Mandir Waav (Vadodara - Gujarat)

THE MAJESTIC STEPWELLS OF GUJARAT
After seeing the step-wells at Adalaj, Dada Harir and of course Rani Ki vav, which had long, corridor-like steps, finally, I got to see Modhera that had alternated horizontal and vertical steps! 

Modhera Sun Temple Surya Mandir Waav

Modhera Sun Temple Photos

modhera sun temple stepwell

Modhera Sun Temple Images

Modhera Sun Temple Images

Modhera Sun Temple Images

SUN TEMPLES (SURYA MANDIR) IN INDIA
Being a country in the equatorial region, since time immemorial, worship of Sun God has been practised in the Indian subcontinent. There are many Sun Temples in India including Sun Temple Konark in Odisha, Suryanar Koil in Kumbakonam Tamil Nadu, Surajkund Ancient Reservoir near New Delhi etc. One of the famous Sun Temples in India is of course Sun Temple Modhera in Gujarat.

SHOOTING SPOT OF PAHELI?
The first thing that it reminded me of, was the movie Paheli!!! But no, this is not the shooting location of Paheli. That was shot at Hadi Rani ki Baori in Rajasthan. I still haven't been to Rajasthan. Hopefully, I'll get to visit here soon. Fingers crossed.


MODHERA SUN TEMPLE HISTORY
Who built Modhera Sun Temple? Well, it was built by the Solanki King Bhimdev in 1026 CE. They were called Suryavashies or the descendants of Sun God! The year 1026 CE is fixed on the assumption that Mohammad of Ghazni tried to conquer and was defeated here in 1024-25 CE. It is also assumed that there may have been another stepwell or the early form of this stepwell itself, here before that which might have gotten destroyed under Ghazni's invasion and the reconstruction may have been in 1026 CE. 

MODHERA SUN TEMPLE PHOTOS
Let me stop talking now and let me take you through the visual delight of being there. Here's a virtual tour of Sun Temple Modhera through my lens.

Modhera Sun Temple Images

Modhera Sun Temple Images

Modhera Sun Temple Images

Modhera Sun Temple Images

Modhera Sun Temple Images
Herons & Fresh Water Turtles in Modhera Sun Temple Surajkund

Modhera Sun Temple Images
Bats on the ceiling of Nritya Mandapa

MODHERA SUN TEMPLE-ARCHITECTURE & SCULPTURES
The sculptural detail in this temple was beyond my comprehension, beyond words. Sun Temple Modhera plan has 3 major sections - The pond at the front called Suraj Kund or Ram Kund, the dancing area in the centre called Nrutya Mandap and the sanctum sanctorum called the Guda MandapBeside the pond were these 2 pillars. The original location of these pillars is not this though. It was kept here by the ASI. The best part is the on-site museum as well, maintained by ASI.

SURAJKUND - MODHERA SUN TEMPLE POND (STEPWELL)
I was there in the afternoon and the sun is shining hot, and the stepped well / pond was spectacular. It was a visual treat. The way the shadows fell was mind-blowing. I could sit there and see on seeing them. Walking down the zig-zag steps feels so special. Along those steps, at certain places are some small mandapas and some of them even have a diety inside, not just 1 or 2, a whole of 108 shrines dedicated to various god & demigods... Three of those 108 are important and centrally placed in the east, north and south (on the west is the temple itself) dedicated to Vishnu, Shiva and Durga. That's water conservation at its best! When God is placed along with water, out of respect to God, water is not made dirty!!! That's something!!!! 

NRUTYA MANDAPA - MODHERA SUN TEMPLE 
Just behind the stepwell is the Nrutya Mandapa. In simple words, I was flabbergasted with the beauty of the mandapa. It is believed that earlier only the Pond and the temple existed and Nritya Mandapa was built a bit later in the same century. It is just a hall with several pillars and an entrance on all 4 sides. The entrance has some exquisite toran designs. Each and every pillar has several layers of panels of various genres. A layer of geometric designs, a layer of florals, a layer of humans, a layer of bigger humans, a layer of elephants etc etc etc!!! I was there for about an hour and I got lost!!! The ceiling design was also another piece of art. Each and every section was unique!! Some sections even had panels of scenes from Ramayana, erotic scenes and more!!! I actually stopped taking photographs and just sat in the middle of the mandapa, speechless and awestruck!!!

sun temple modhera photos

sun temple modhera photos

sun temple modhera Toran Nritya Mandapa

sun temple modhera Ceiling Nritya Mandapa

sun temple modhera Toran Nritya Mandapa

GUDA MANDAP - MODHERA SUN TEMPLE SANCTUM SANCTORUM
After the Suraj Kund, and Nrutya Mandap, over to Guda Mandap or the Sanctum Sanctorum now. This is obviously an east-facing structure dedicated to Sun God, facing the rising sun. Very similar to the Nrutya Mandapa, every pillar of the sanctum sanctorum was an intricate piece of art by itself as well. The outer structure is basically a rectangle, but actually a multi-faceted star-shaped structureEach facet has a major sculpture. Either an Ashta dik Balaka or Aditya or Devi. An Aditya is identified as a straight standing sculpture. There are 12 of those. An Ashta dik Balaka aka Lokpalaka is identified as a tribanga (tri-fold) posture. Technically there should be only 8 of those. But here quite unusally there are 10! Then there are the female figures called Gauri-s or Devi-s. These are just the major sculptures, in the facets. Then there are several panels above and below them - one dedicated to other gods & scenes from epics, one dedicated to humans, one for elephants, one for lion face etc... There was this one sculpture of a woman, turned around, and twisting to show her face in the front. She has also folded a leg to her back and held it with her hand. I loved that sculpture and tried to pose just like that in front of that. Spot that sculpture atop me???
In the exteriors of the sanctum sanctorum, where those sculptures of Aditya, Lokpala and Gauri are seen, just below them are those several panels. One of them has little humans in them. Here are some close-ups of that panel. Beginning with the elephant panel. Notice the little humans doing acrobatics holding the trumpet of the elephants?!!

MODHERA SUN TEMPLE PLAN
Modhera Sun Temple plan
Pic Courtesy: A K Forbes, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

MODHERA SUN TEMPLE GUIDE BOOK
A very detailed, advanced guidebook about Modhera Sun Temple called 'The Sun Temple at Modhera - A Monograph of Architecture & Iconography' has been written by Wibke Lobo of Museum für Indische Kunst, Berlin - Museum for Indian Art (expanded & renamed now as Museum für Asiatische Kunst). The book is available to read for free via IGNCA's official website. It is a very comprehensive, and the first-ever in-depth, detailed book written about the architecture, sculptures & iconography of Sun Temple Modhera and it is a 360-pages book.
Modhera Sun Temple Guide Book - via IGNCA (downloads/opens as PDF)

sun temple modhera sculptures
Ashta Dik Balaka (Lokpala)

sun temple modhera sculptures
Aditya

sun temple modhera sculptures
Gauri

sun temple modhera sculptures

sun temple modhera sculptures

MODHERA SUN TEMPLE TIMINGS
8:00AM to 6:00PM everyday

MODHERA SUN TEMPLE TICKETS (Updated Feb 2022)
Modhera Sun Temple entry fee: ₹.20/- for Indians & SAARC Nationals; ₹.250/- for foreigners
Modhera Sun Temple Online Booking: Modhera Sun Temple is managed by the Archaeological Survey of India. Tickets can be bought online on ASI's official website via ASI - PayUMoney app. Choose Vadodara and choose Sun Temple. Choose the date and proceed to give your ID details and pay. Tickets can also be bought at the gate.

MODHERA SUN TEMPLE LOCATION
Ahmedabad to Modhera Sun Temple distance: 100km via Mehsana
Vadodara Railway Station to Modhera Sun Temple: 212km via Nadiad, Ahmedabad
Dholavira to Modhera Sun Temple distance: 235km via Balasar, Radhanpur
Patan to Modhera Sun Temple: 36km southwards
On Google Maps: Modhera Sun Temple (સૂર્ય મંદિર મોઢેરા)

HOW TO REACH MODHERA SUN TEMPLE
The best way to go from Ahmedabad to Modhera Sun Temple is by car. It can be done as a day trip from Ahmedabad with a hired car. 
By public transport, the best option is to take a train from Ahmedabad to Mehsana and then a bus from Mehsana to Modhera.

MODHERA HOTELS & WHERE TO STAY IN MODHERA?
Modhera is a very small town where you may find small restaurants to eat. The nearest bigger town to find good restaurants and hotels to stay in is Mehsana. The next option and the nearest option for luxury hotels is to stay in Gandhinagar or Ahmedabad.

Modhera Sun Temple Images
Ramayana Scene depicting the fallen Lakshmana in the arms of Rama, surrounded by Vanara Sena

Modhera Sun Temple Images
Erotic scenes sculpted in stone in temples. Not an uncommon practice in India

Modhera Sun Temple Sculptures

Modhera Sun Temple Sculptures
Frieze of soldiers.

Modhera Sun Temple Sculptures
Elephant frieze. Did you notice the tiny human being in the trunk of one elephant?

Modhera Sun Temple Sculptures
Life's a cycle! When there are erotic scenes, there's also a detailed childbirth scene!

HOW MUCH TIME DO YOU NEED AT MODHERA SUN TEMPLE?
The temple needs at least a day or two dedicated to it totally, to see all the sculptures properly. It is so massive with such intricate sculptural details. If your schedule doesn't allow that much of time at Modhera, the absolute least that you need to spend here is at least half a day

BEST TIME TO VISIT SUN TEMPLE MODHERA
While in summer it can be super sunny (as much as 50°C), it is the time when the water level is the lowest and the step-wells cast their best light & shadow. That said, if you aren't used to that kind of heat, it is probably better to skip summer which is Apr-June in this region. Anytime between July and March is a good time to visit Modhera. The best time to visit is definitely November to February when the Rann Utsav festival also happens at Patan.

MODHERA SUN TEMPLE CONTACT NUMBER 
There is no direct contact number of Modhera Sun Temple. The best way to contact Sun Temple Modhera would be via the superintendent Archaeologist of the Vadodara Circle under which Modhera Sun Temple comes. 
ASI Vadodara contact number +91 (0)265 2429323. 
ASI Vadodara email: circlevad.asi@gmail.com.

MODHERA SUN TEMPLE OFFICIAL WEBSITE

OTHER THINGS TO DO & PLACES TO VISIT NEAR SUN TEMPLE MODHERA
Visit Rani ki Vav in Patan (Modhera Sun Temple to Rani ki Vav - 36km)
When you're in Patan, also witness double Ikat weaving of Patan Patola Fabric & Patan Patola Heritage Museum
Visit Siddhpur - a colourful neighbourhood with Indo Parsi European architecture (Modhera Sun Temple to Siddhpur - 60km)
Visit Dholavira - a Harappan City (Modhera Sun Temple to Dholavira - 280km)

Surya Mandir Waav Modhera Pinterest Surya Mandir Waav Modhera Pinterest

Surya Mandir Waav Modhera Pinterest Surya Mandir Waav Modhera Pinterest

Surya Mandir Waav Modhera Pinterest Surya Mandir Waav Modhera Pinterest

Dedicated to Prof. Swaminathan & Co...

Bhushavali

An ardent traveler by passion. Being an ex - Art History Teacher, my area of interest especially lies in Nature and Heritage. Visited 78 UNESCO World Heritage sites as of Sept 2020. I've been listed among the Top 7 Women Travel Bloggers of India, Top 50 in UK. I have been interviewed in a couple of TV Shows, Radio Channels and Events as well. Read more about me and read the testimonials of different brands

10 comments:

  1. The third image seems very similar to Konak Temple of Odisha, which is also the temple of Sun. Other images are simply tells the lost story to us. Reminds us our prosperous history and culture.

    Thanks for Sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Sheer Poetry! You must have spent quite some time in Gujarat then

    ReplyDelete
  3. Such magnificent chisel work! Would love to visit this place. Seems quite intriguing. Nice post!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Do visit the place Niranjan. I'm sure you'll love it! :)

      Delete
  4. Interesting story... and best photographs of temple architecture and sculptures

    thanks bhusha

    ReplyDelete
  5. Nice article & pics !!! :-) The steps in the movie Paheli, if I am not mistaken, are from the Chand Baori, in the village Abhaneri, Rajasthan.. Those are much deeper than those at Modhera ! The Modhera temple is a favorite of mine (along with Lothal) and I keep going there quite often. Its only the recent past that the surroundings of the temple has seen some beautification.. Another thing that surprised me about Mohera are the erotic sculptures INSIDE the sanctum sanctorum of the temple !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh! I didn't know that. I'm yet to visit Rajasthan. Thanks for the info Ravi!!

      Delete

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