If you visit only one town in northern Gujarat, make it Modhera, where the eleventh-century Sun Temple is the state’s best example of Solanki temple architecture. Almost a thousand years old, the temple has survived earthquakes and Muslim iconoclasm; apart from a missing shikhara and slightly worn carvings, it remains largely intact. The Solanki kings were probably influenced by Jain traditions; deities and their vehicles, animals, voluptuous maidens and complex friezes adorn the sandy brown walls and pillars. Within the mandapa, or pillared entrance hall, twelve adityas set into niches in the wall portray the transformations of the sun in each month of the year. Closely associated with the sun, adityas are the sons of Aditi, the goddess of infinity and eternity. Modhera’s sun temple is positioned so that at the equinoxes the rising sun strikes the images in the sanctuary, which at other times languishes in a dim half-light. In front of the temple, 108 shrines adorn the rim of Surya Kund, a 100-square-metre step-well.

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