Modhera Sun temple

Sun worship has always been in vogue in India and there are many temples dedicated to the Sun God throughout the country. Of these the temples at Modhera in Gujarat, Martand in Kashmir and Konark in Odisha stand out because of their magnificent architectural workmanship.

Modhera is situated on the banks of the River Pushpavathi 25 km from Mehasana and 102 knm from Ahmedabad.  No worship is offered at the temple now. The origins of Modhera can be traced back to the Ramayana. According to the Skanda Purana (3.2.40-67) after defeating Ravana, Lord Rama consulted Rishi Vasishta as he wanted to absolve himself from the sin of killing Ravana. Vasishta advised Rama to go to a place called Dharmaranya to expiate for the sin. Rama performed a yagna at a village called Modherak which is believed to be the present day Modhera. The Sun temple here is believed to have been constructed during the reign of the Solanki King Bhima 1 probably in 1026- 27 AD. Like most beautiful temples, this one too was ravaged by Mohammedan invaders who defaced countless figures and sculptures in the temple premises.

The temple is quite an architectural wonder as it has been so designed that that the first rays of the sun fell on the image of Surya, the Sun God, at the time of the equinoxes. The sanctum sanctorum with its beautiful pond known as Ramakund is quite an attraction. Various deities like Jalasayi Vishnu, Trivikrama, Shitala Devi are also housed in aesthetically beautiful shrines. The temple faces east and the rising sun with its golden rays gives it an ethereal radiance. There is also a shrine dedicated to Matangi Madeshwari which was originally housed in a stepwell. Even today members of the Modha community worship the Devi. The Modhera Dance Festival held here is quite popular and attracts visitors in large numbers. This is held during the third week of January every year, after the festival of Uttarayan for three days in the backdrop of the Sun temple.