History and Architecture
The Sun temple at Konark was built by King Langula Narasimha Dev of Ganga dynasty to worship the Sun deity. The temple also finds mention in Ain-I-Akbari written by Abul Fazal.
The name of Konark temple is an amalgamation of two words--Kona meaning corner and Arka meaning the Sun. That is to say that the Sun god worshipped in Arka Kshetra is called Konark. The temple takes the form of the chariot of Surya (Arka), the Sun God. It is heavily decorated with stone carving. The entire complex was designed in the form of the God's huge chariot drawn by seven spirited horses on twelve pairs wheels at its base which are one of the major attractions. The spokes of the wheels serve as sundials and the shadows cast by these can give the precise time of the day. The temple complex also contains erotic sculptures similar to the temple in Khajuraho.
The entrance is guarded by two giant lions, which are each shown crushing a war elephant. At the entrance of the temple is a Nata Mandir. This is where the temple dancers used to perform dances in homage to the Sun God.
All around the temple, there are various floral and geometric patterns. Around the base of the temple there are images of animals, foliage, warriors on horses and other interesting structures. On the walls and roof of the temple beautiful erotic figures are carved.