The structure lying in front of the Jagamohana (Audience Hall) is the Nata Mandapa (Dancing Hall) of Konark temple. It is also known as Nata Mandira. The nata mandira is located at a short distance from Jagamohana on the east. It is built on a high platform which is 3.6 meter in height. The Nata Mandapa has sixteen pillars on the platform and the central four pillars are taller than the surrounding pillars, so it suggests that it had a sloping or pyramidal roof.
The plan of the Nata Mandira is square. The platform of the Nata Mandapa is approached by four stairways in the center of all four sides. The eastern stairway is the main entrance. The two colossal gaja-simha structures (lion upon elephant) are placed in front of the eastern stairway. The design of northern and southern stairways is simple and composed of a series of steps. The design of the western stairway is different from others, from the top steps descend in form of semi-circles facing west and thereafter these are bifurcated into two flights of steps, one towards the south and the other to the north.
The wall of the platform has five horizontal divisions and is mellowed with lavishly carved figures such as elephant riders, wrestlers, a man fighting with wild animal, a cavalier engaged in hunting, and Hindu Gods and Goddesses such as Ganesha and Gaja Lakshmi. The face of the platform also contains numerous female figures, mostly female dancers and musicians. Apart from dancers and musicians, other female figures are shown in their common postures with arms raised over the head, adjusting their scarf, holding the branch of a tree or a flower, playing musical instruments, caring their pet birds, caressing a child, drenching water from wet hair (the water drops falling from her wet hair being drunk by a goose), holding and looking at the hand mirrors etc.
The Natamandira is not a closed hall, on each of the four sides, there are four pillars. In the central part of the floor are four large square pillars. The openings in the east and west are in perfect alignment to take the Sun rays of the rising Sun into the Jagamohana and the garbhagriha. The floor of the Nata Mandapa is reached by spacious openings in the center of the four sides, each opening is approached by a flight of four steps. The rows of pillars divide the floor of the Nata Mandira into nine compartments, probably indicating some association with the nine planets. The four central pillars have five divisions. The lower division is fairly pain and not craved. The central and top divisions are craved with different figures of female musicians, female dancers, devotees and lion vyalas.
The 3.6 meter high first platform and the pillars on the second platform attracts the visitors for their gorgeous stone carving, but the walls of 0.5 meter high second platform also contains magnificent stone carving. After reaching the first platform, walk around the second platform before climbing the second platform, you will notice all the stone carvings and sculptures on the walls of second platform. Below are few photos of these carvings which I took during my last visit to Konark temple.
The unique image of the Sun God recovered from the Natamandira of Konark is now in the National Museum, New Delhi. The two-armed god stands in the samapada position on a triratha chariot, carved with seven horses. The two hands of the deity are broken, but the two lotus flowers he carried in the hands still exist above his shoulders.