Ugta Rehjo Bhan in Gujarati published by the Gujarat State Archeology Department is dedicated to the sun temples in
The book explores not just the famous Modhera
but nearly 100 sun temples scattered from Koteshwar in Sabarkantha to Rander
near Surat in Gujarat.
The book is the result of the dedicated work of over a decade by Navinchandra Parekh and Dahyabhai Patel.
The book says sun worship is as old as the Indian civilization. However, the tradition of worship in an idol form came in the third century BC. Sun worship took its roots from third to the 13th century across the subcontinent including
Gujaratafter which the trend waned. Places such as Vadnagar, Muli, Than, Delmal, Kotyark and Gop were thriving centers of sun worship and many of these have idols preserved for centuries.
"There have been two traditions of sun worship found in the state. While the idols of Mag Brahmins have Iranian influence (completed with boots and headgear), in Kshatriya tradition, the sun is generally worshipped with his family - wives Usha and Pratyusha and son Revanta. We also have an age-old tradition of worshipping Ranna or Randal, considered as wife of Surya, as the goddess of fertility," said Patel.
The book says invasions have robbed the temples of their glory and even history in some instances. "Take for example Kotyark temple near Mahudi where a combined form of Vishnu and Surya is worshipped. It used to have a water tank like Modhera but the Kshatrap-period temple has retained only its original sanctum sanctorum," said Parekh.
The book especially mentions sun worship in Kathi community around Surendranagar. "Taking an oath of the Sun was the biggest vow a warrior can take. One can find sun motifs almost everywhere in their lives - decoration, state insignia, arms and communication. A letter by rebel Jogidas Khuman to Bhavnagar Maharaja preserved in Devsar Surya Mandir shows him sign below motif of Sun, the final authority," added Parekh.