According to recently discovered copper plates from the Ganga dynasty(reference required), the construction of the Current Jagannath temple was initiated by the ruler of Kalinga, Anantavarman Chodaganga Dev . The Jagamohana and the Vimana portions of the temple were built during his reign (1078 - 1148 CE). However it was only in the year 1174 CE that the Orissan ruler Ananga Bhima Deva rebuilt the temple to give a shape in which it stands today.
Jagannath worship in the temple continued until 1558, when Orissa was attacked by the Afghan general Kalapahad. Subsequently, when Ramachandra Deb established an independent kingdom at Khurda in Orissa, the temple was consecrated and the deities reinstalled .
Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the great Sikh emperor, had donated massive amounts of gold to this temple, (even more than he gave away to the Golden Temple at Amritsar). In his last will, he also ordered that Kohinoor, the most precious and greatest diamond in the world, to be donated to this temple (but the diamond could never actually make its way to the temple because the British, by that time, had annexed the Punjab and all its royal possessions.)
The huge temple complex covers an area of over , and is surrounded by a high fortified wall. It contains at least 120 temples and shrines. With its sculptural richness and fluidity of the Orissan style of temple architecture, it is one of the most magnificent monuments of India.
The main temple is a curvilinear temple and crowning the top is the 'srichakra' (a eight spoked wheel) of Vishnu. Also known as the "Nilachakra", it is made out of Ashtadhatu and is considered sacrosanct. The temple tower was built on a raised platform of stone and, rising to above the inner sanctum where the deities reside, dominates the surrounding landscape. The pyramidal roofs of the surrounding temples and adjoining halls, or mandapas, rise in steps toward the tower like a ridge of mountain peaks.
The main shrine is enclosed by a high wall. Another wall surrounds the main temple. A magnificent sixteen-sided monolithic pillar sits in front of the main gate. The gate is guarded by two lions.
In modern times the temple is busy and functioning. The temple's kitchen is considered as the largest kitchen in India.
The temple is selective regarding who is allowed entry into the grounds. Most non-Hindus are excluded from its premises, as are Hindus of non-Indian origin. Visitors not allowed entry may view the precincts from the roof of the nearby Raghunandan Library. There is some evidence that this came into force following a series of invasions by foreigners into the temple and surrounding area. Buddhist, and Jain groups are allowed into the temple compound if they are able to prove their Indian ancestry. The temple has slowly started allowing Hindus of non-Indian origin into the area, after an incident in which 3 Balinese Hindus were denied entry, even though Bali is 90% Hindu.