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The Ganapesvara temple is a rarely visited, ruined, 13th century Kakatiya temple complex. It is located at a partly-excavated spot amidst rice-fields, outside Ghanpur, a small village near Palampet. Both the temple and the village are named after Ganapatideva, the Kakatiya ruler during whose reign the temples were constructed. The complex, locally known as Kotagullu, consists of two east-facing Siva shrines, both smaller than the Ramappa temple, but with the same complicated cruciform plan.

Ganapesvara: Vimanam
The temple is raised on a high plinth with deeply cut mouldings. Vimanam walls have regularly spaced projections with mouldings above and below, and a wide overhanging eave, but the tower has fallen. A row of small, relatively well-preserved linga shrines line the west side of the compound.

Ganapesvara: South porch
The outer vimanam walls are sparsely decorated. The stepped central projection has carvings of a diety in a shrine and a group of dancers and musicians, but the rest of the projections are plain. Recesses between the projections have narrow pilasters with tower-like pediments. A frieze of elephants adorns the uppermost moulding of the vedibandha that continues onto the porch walls. The balcony walls of the porch are more elaborate with friezes of flowers and dancers above a deeply cut frieze of stylized flowers above the vedibandha. Outer pillars of the porch have square bases and circular capitals. A few granite bracket figures remain.

Ganapesvara: Sanctuary entrance
Evidence of an elaborate sculptural programme remains in the discoloured fragments of the ardhamandapam entrance. Pierced screens on each side have triple rows of creeper circles containing images of dancers and musicians. Below this are images of shalabhanjikas. The lintel above is an elaborate composition crowded with figures, probably a scene from the Siva Purana. More figural panels are placed at the base of the entrance frame. Of the four small shrines at the corners of the mandapam, only two remain. In the one to the right of the sanctum entrance, seen here, a Mahisa-mardhini image survives.

Ganapesvara: Mandapam
The roof of the mandapa has fallen in and the elaborately carved, polished granite pillars of the mandapam have been removed to the State Museum in Hyderabad. The columns have lathe turned capitals with richly carved polygonal sections in the middle, and plain square bases. The ceiling is an ornate composition of various Saivite dieties.

Ruined Siva Temple
This temple is similar to the Ganapesvara, but slightly smaller and even more ruined. However, the roof of the south porch has survived as have the pierced screens flanking the entrance to the mandapa. Inside, the mandapam roof has fallen in and remains heaped on the floor. The elaborate granite frames of the ardhamandapa and sanctuary entrances still remain. Inside the sanctum is a polished, red lingam.

Siva Temple: Mandapa walls
The mandapam walls here are in a good state of preservation. The projecting eaves above have rows of pendant lotus buds. The walls have three rows of sculpture, a row of devahamsa at the top, stylized flowers in the middle, and alternating sikharas at the bottom. Below this is a recessed panel with another frieze of flowers. Below this is the topmost moulding of the adhisthana with its row of circumambulating elephants.

This structure probably served as an entrance hall. It is filled with pillars, each with square, octagonal, and circular sections, but all mostly broken. Some of the square sections contain sculpture panels. The ceiling is sculpted with various patma motifs. Excavation trenches line the front of the mandapam. The images placed in the trench were probably recently excavated. On the left is an image of Siva holding the sarpa and damaru and surrounded by an elaborate prabhavali. On the right is Vishnu holding a gada and chakra. Both images are in the tri-bhanga pose and have miniature attendants at the base.

Excavation trench
This image may be of Venugopala, from the way he stands, cross-legged, and from his hands, placed as if holding a flute. He leans on the gada, a Vishnu symbol, but strangely, he also holds the damaru, a Siva attribute.

Linga shrines
This row of similar, small but well-preserved shrines lines the west side of the complex. They consist of a sanctum and an ardhamandpam, raised on a moulded basement. The walls are severely plain but the towers are sculpted. Most have pyramidal multistoreyed sikharas crowned with a square kuta roof. In some instances, the ardhamandapam roof or the santuary entrance frame remains.

Ruins of Temple
Just outside the Kotagullu complex is a collapsed temple overgrown with trees. Only a few pillars and parts of the vimanam walls remain visible. Around the ruins are several isolated pillars and broken slabs. Seen here is the central slab of a lotus ceiling and right half of an entrance frame. The frame has a pilaster with square and circular sections, and a Siva dvarpalaka flanked by maidens.

There are several ruined Kakatiya temples in the vicinity. This small site on the outskirts of Ghanpur has a partly overgrown sandstone temple stiuated in a small field. A deeply moulded adhisthana surrounds the vimanam. The temple walls are elaborately stepped and moulded. The two-tiered roof above is distinctly sloping, with an overhanging eave. The mandapam and porches here are relatively smaller and less ornate but have the usual sharply cut pillars with square and circular sections. The ardhamandapa and sanctum entrance frames have pierced screens and several columns of sculpture, including Siva dvarpalakas and shalabhanjikas, but no sculpture in polished granite.

Photos and Text © Amit Guha