In last 12 years I have made at least 8/10 visit to the Sun Temple at Modhera, on occasions alone and the rest with students and others. There is no doubt that the Sun Temple at Modhera is spectacular, showing the climax of Maru-Gurjara architecture. However, most of its sculptures are badly mutilated, either by the rulers of Islamic invasions, particularly the raid of Alladhin Khilji or some other reasons.
But surrounding Modhera, there are villages deep rooted in history and possess some of outstanding monuments of Solanki era. These are often skipped by visitors as these are not well publicised. One of these is the Limboji Mata temple at Delmal, a village in Patan district and about 20 km from Modhera. The temple was built in the 11th century by the Solanki rulers.
The temple is very well preserved, thanks to its isolation, and conservation measures by the Gaikwad family of Vadodra in the past. The local Jethi community has also been playing a larger role for its upkeep. It is a panchayatna temple, the main temple in the centre and four corner temples out of which two are shrines of Vishnu and Brahma. The sculptures unlike Modhera Sun Temple are in much better condition. According to a local belief, the Jethi community which once lived at Modhera had moved here after receiving land grants from Solanki rulers. Though Brahmins they are known for their gymnastic and wrestling skills. When the erstwhile Muslim rulers were on their mission to destroy Hindu temples, they bared Delmal because of the bravery of Jethi community. As a result the temples are better preserved than their counterparts.
The main temple of Limboji Mata was probably earlier dedicated to Maheswari, a mother goddess. It faces north as most of the devi temples do. It consists of the mulaprasada or the garbhagriha in sikhari architecture and is attached to a porch or antrala which consists of pillars and ornamental rounded ceilings. The main temple is profusely carved with dikapalas, apsaras and ascetics and three principal niches contain Mahisamardhini Durga and Chamunda. The south-western and south-eastern shrines are dedicated to Vishnu and Surya.
For heritage lovers, the temple complex and its surrounding offer a magical experience. There are hardly any people and therefore less distraction. A short walk through the dusty road leads to a farm of the Jethi community, where there are remains of other contemporary temples, but now mostly fallen.
During my visit I met Satish Jethi, (Ph: 777795770/9998638982), the local ASI attendant and a heritage enthusiast. He is a mine of information and belongs to the local Jethi community. He took me to an open air museum located outside the complex. It displays a number of fallen parts of temples that stood nearby. It was established by late Chadhuryji, a govt officer posted in the local tahsil in the 80s. While returning back to Ahmedabad I paid my tribute the soul of the govt officer, who had gone out of his way for preserving the site.