A Masterpiece of Architectural Engineering: Sun Temple Modhera

Alamkara or ornamentation is an aesthetic element used to beautify the objects. When we talk about the ornamentation of architecture, we talk about the Modhera Sun Temple. A Sun Temple was built by King Bhima 1 of the Solanki Dynasty in 1026 AD in Modhera village of Gujarat. This Temple is one of the most decorated and ornamented structures in Indian temple-making history. It is built out of yellow sandstone in Maru-Gurjara style, a sub-style of Nagar-style temple architecture. The style is famous for its intricate and detailed carvings all around the surface with more emphasis on the ceilings and pillars of the temple.

East gate of Ranga Mandapa
Source: Gujarat Tourism

The temple consists of a huge rectangular stepped water tank with many miniature shrines on the steps at regular intervals, a kirti stambha which leads to the Ranga-mandapa or dancing hall which is diagonally aligned. The westernmost structure is the Gudha- mandapa attached to the Garbhagriha or the sanctum sanctorum where the main deity resides. The temple is a great example of advanced engineering and craftsmanship. It is built in such a manner that the first ray of the sunrise falls directly to the image of the sun god in Garbhagriha. The interior of the Sabha-mandapa and Ranga-mandapa is the most attractive part of the temple. Round decorated pillars support it, arranged octagonally with very fine designs and motifs like apsaras, mithuna figures, dancers, musicians, and floral motifs carved in different horizontal registers. The concentric circular ceilings have an inverted Lotus design with a pendant hanging in the centre (Padma-vittan). The outer walls of the temple have little less carving than the interior walls, it contains intricate carved basal mouldings and sculptures of different deities on the wall. The temple is in a ruined condition now, it was badly damaged during the Islamic invasion. It is believed and evident that the Garbhagriha has a beautiful curvilinear Shikharor superstructure that does not exist now.

Detailed ornamentation of the pillars of the East gate
Source: Gujarat Tourism

The temple is now a Monument of National Importance under the Archaeological Survey of India. The Sun Temple Modhera is important in terms of an architectural masterpiece and rendition of the craftsmanship. It shows the height and prosperity of the Solanki rulers and the Maru-Gurjara style of Western India who ruled in the early medieval times. The Government and institutions are also keenly interested in safeguarding and protecting this great monument. The temple has become a great tourist attraction. The beautiful sculptures and ornamentation of the temple attract so many tourists of foreign and local origin. A three-day dance festival is being organised in the temple complex known as Uttarardha Mahotsav to promote tourism to the site. Finally, we can say that Sun Temple Modhera is a wonder and a tangible manifestation of beauty in terms of architecture and designs signifying the Maru-Gurjara Style of the Solanki Dynasty.