Here’s some of what the Lonely Planet – India chapter Gujarat has to say about Modhera:
“Built in 1,027 by King Bhimdev I, Modhera’s Sun Temple is one of the greatest monuments of the Solanki dynasty, whose rulers were believed to be descended from the sun.
Like the better-known Sun Temple at Konark in Odisha, which it predates by 200 years, the Modhera temple was designed so that the dawn sun shone on the image of Surya during the equinox. Surya Kund, an extraordinary rectangular step-well inside the complex, contains more than 100 shrines, resembling a sunken art gallery. Each year, around January 20th, the temple is the scene for a three-day classical dance festival with dancers from all over India.”
KAPOORS ON THE ROAD
We have heard about the exquisite Sun Temple in Odisha for years, but Odisha is a state in eastern India that we have not had the opportunity to visit. For this reason, when we’d read that Modhera’s temple was the next-best in all of India, it made sense to see it as it was along the route between Patan and Bhuj.
We stopped for a light lunch at a simple eatery so as not to waste time, and arrived at the Sun Temple just before 1:00pm, in the heat of the day. Fortunately, there was a light breeze and the temperature was relatively mild that day, or it would have been difficult to spend any time admiring the temple and the adjacent step well.
We didn’t have the same luck in finding the site free of large numbers of visitors. It was a Sunday afternoon, and many of the residents from the surrounding region were taking the opportunity to visit the temple when they had a day off from work and the children were out of school. It was clear this was a special outing, because everyone was dressed up for the occasion.
My only beef with the crowds was that many of them are so fixated on taking photos of themselves posing inside the temples. Of course it’s natural to want to take a picture when visiting an historic site, but when they younger crowd occupy a strategic spot and then pose over and over and over again, I begin to lose my patience with them. This was the case with one particular young woman, and eventually I abandoned the temple and went outside to see what else was located on the site.
That’s when I spotted a lone older woman praying at a small shrine behind the larger of the two main temple buildings. She was clearly there to pay homage to the gods and wasn’t interested in taking photos of herself to share on social media. I confess, I took advantage of her solitude and took a photo of her praying. It was a nice setting, with the statue of the holy cow ‘Nandi’ draped in orange cloth beside her.