Konark temple, also known as, is situated at a distance of 35km from Puri and 65 km from the capital city of Bhubaneswar.
History of Konark Temple:
The Sun Temple at Konark was built by the King Narasimhadeva of the Eastern Ganga Dynasty towards the thirteenth century AD. Konark temple was designed in the shape of a colossal chariot with seven horses and twelve pairs of wheels, carrying the sun god, Surya, across the heavens. Sun was a popular deity in India since the Vedic period.
According to many legends, the lodestone on the top of the Sun temple was removed by Portuguese voyagers, as they thought that it was distracting the compass in their ship, and thereby affecting their ship movement. It is believed that the removal of the lodestone, (which acted as the central stone) led to the loss of balance of the temple walls.
According to the historical sources, Kalapahad invaded Orissa in the year 1508, and caused large scale destruction of the Konark temple. Orissa came under Muslim dominion in the year 1568. It is believed that the Pandas of Puri, took away the presiding deity of the Sun temple, in order to save it from the Muslims.
Architecture of Konark:
The entrance of the Sun Temple is guarded by two lions, which of each shown crushing a war elephant. Each elephant in turn lies on top of a human body. The Sun Temple symbolizes the majesty of the Sun god. The main sanctum of the Sun Temple is 229 ft. high. The audience hall is 128 ft. high and has elaborate external projections. The famous Sun Temple at Konark also has a Dancing Hall (Nata Mandir) and a Dining Hall (Bhoga-Mandap). The Nata Mandir lies at the entrance of the temple. At one point of time temple dancers (also known as devdasi) used to perform traditional dances at this site to offer homage to the Sun god.
The Sun Temple at Konark has several floral and geometric patterns all over. The temple also has beautiful sculptures of human, divine and semi-divine figures. A collection of its sculptures of Konark is housed in the Sun Temple Museum, run by the Archaeological Survey of India.