Monday, August 10, 2015

Surya Mandir (Sun Temple) near Modhera

The Surya Mandir (Sun Temple) is just outside the village of Modhera. Although weather and earthquakes have taken a toll, it is still sumptuous site. The temple is aligned precisely east-west, so that the sun enters the inner sanctum at sunrise on the equinoxes. The deity (now long gone) supposedly had a diamond in his forehead that illuminated the entire inside of the temple when the sun hit it.

A large kund (tank) sits in front of the mandapa (meeting hall), which is front of the temple.
When we arrived at the site, a number of men and women were performing ritual ablutions in the tank.
The tank contains 108 small shrines.
The tank and the mandapa (and guess who?).
The mandate. Note the scalloped arch in the rear entryway that became so prominent much later in Mughal architecture. The temple dates to 1026; the Mughals arrived around 1300.
The mandapa has 52 columns -- one for each week in the year.
This temple is over 1000 years old, and the effects of weather on the sandstone is apparent.
The dome in the center of the ceiling in the mandapa has been restored.
The interior of the temple was filled with bats; the stench of their urine was overwhelming. Fortunately, most of what is worth seeing is on the exterior!
The exterior is richly decorated, down to the lotus-flower base.
A closer look at sculpture along the base of the temple.
One of twelve sculptures of Surya -- one for each month of the year.
Surya rides on seven horses -- one for each day of the week.
Nandi is not a common sight in Gujarat. While the temple is no longer active, there is a small Shiva shrine next to it.

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