This large temple complex is dedicated to Jagannath, Lord of the Universe and incarnation of Vishnu whose deity image is depicted as being jet-black with large, white eyes. The 58m-high temple was built in 1198 by King Anantavarman of the Eastern Ganga dynasty and is surrounded by a 6m (20ft) high wall with it's main entrance gate being guarded by a pair of stone lions and a pillar crowned by the Garuda that one stood at the Sun Temple at Konark until the 18th century. It is similar in design to the Lingaraj Temple in Bhubaneswar with three smaller shrines adjoining its tall sanctuary tower.
A unique cult of followers has grown-up in and around Orissa and the temple is the main temple for pilgrims to worship at especially during the chariot festival of Rath Yatra in June/July. Some 6,000 resident priests perform the elaborate daily rituals of bathing, dressing and worshipping the image of Jagannath, together with his brother Balbhadra and sister Subhadra. Five daily meals are offered to the three deity's which are prepared by some 400 temple cooks who work in the kitchens that you can see to the left of the main temple with steam rising out of vents. This kitchen is reportedly the largest in the world. Unfortunately, the temple is only open to Hindu's but you can get a good view of the complex from an open veranda up some stairs in the Raghumandan Library that is located opposite the main entrance on Grand Road.