Bats, the nocturnal mammals that usually well in caves and other such dark crevices have usurped the interior of the magnificent Modhera Sun Temple in the coastal state of Gujarat in the eastern part of India. These bats have found a convenient residence in the almost 1000-year-old heritage structure, and have left their droppings all over the temple floor. Tourists are quite put of by the rampant smell that stings their nostrils when they enter the place. Several thousand bats are thought to be occupying the interior of the temple.
“Who would believe that this temple hosts the magnificent Modhera cultural festival. One now has to cover up well before venturing into this 11th century monument,” says Dipesh Shah. Dipesh is a researcher working on Indian heritage. “Can’t the district administration step in for pest control if the archaeology department is cash strapped?,” he wonders. The bats made their appearance in the past five months, and the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) was caught napping! The ASI handles the temple and its maintenance and is supposedly at a loos as to how to get rid of the nocturnal creatures.
The bat droppings form a major health hazard for all visitors to the temple. Not only bats carriers of rabies, their droppings are also a haven for the flourishing of the fungus Histoplasma capsulatum, that can be inhaled as spores into a human being’s lugs and result in an infecton.
An ASI official has offered a few pointers on how they might undertake the removal of the bats. “This inspection will reveal their preferred exit point from the temple. We have experimented with bright lights such as flashlights and work lights that may scare off the bats and cause them to change their habits. Such measures are available to us. Also covering the entry and exit points of the temple at the appropriate time can prevent roosting of the bats,” he says.
The Modhera Sun Temple is one of the few Sun Temples left in India, along with other wonderful pieces of architecture such as the Marthand and Konark Sun Temples. It contains one of the most detailed depictions of the “energy centers” or chakras within the human body, as they appear in yogic physiology.