Konark is a small Orissan town whose major claim to fame is the reputed Sun Temple that constitutes one of the major Tourist Attractions in Konark. The history of Konark serves as a preface to your Tour to Konark. It is a brilliant way to get yourself acquainted with the place that you might be visiting for the first time.
On delving deep into the historical background of Konark, it is revealed that Konark owes its name to Konarka, the presiding deity of the Sun Temple. It would interest one to know that Konark is actually an amalgamation of two words, "Kona", meaning corner and "Arka" meaning Sun. The two when taken together, implies the sun of the corner. On leafing through the pages of Konark history, you would come to know that Konark was one of the earliest centers that practiced sun worshipping.
The earliest mention of the Konark in the history of Konark is in the Puranans when, the place used to be referred to as Mundira or Mundirasvamin. This name was later replaced by Konaditya or Konarka. One curious fact that one stumbles upon while flipping through the pages of the Puranas and other authentic religious texts is the fact that there already existed a Sun Temple at the place, way before the present temple came into being.
Konark happened to be a busy port that shared mutually beneficial trade relations with the South East Asian countries. The construction of the much renowned Sun Temple that exists now in Konark is credited to King Narashimhadev I belonging to the Ganga dynasty. The construction of this temple was the commemoration of his triumph over the Muslims. The temple later suffered the brunt of neglect and received the final blow when it was deconsecrated by the envoy of Jahangir, the Mughal Emperor.
There is more than one legend associated with the construction of the Sun Temple. According to one popular opinion, the Sun Temple was commissioned by Samba, Lord Krishna's son. Lord Krishna had cursed his son with leprosy. After undergoing a rigorous penance for twelve years, he was restored to health by the blessings of the Sun God and it was in his honor that the temple was constructed.