Papanatha Temple is a small temple located built for Mukteswara and situated to the south of Virupaksha area. From the inscriptions, it was found that the structure was completed circa 740 AD. The idols of Nandi and Virabhadra had been placed in proximity of the entrance of the inner hall. Tourists visiting this temple can observe 16 massive pillars that are supporting the ceiling of the primary hall.
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Pillars and pilasters of the temple are adorned with intricate carvings of females and couples (termed mithunas). Devotees can also see sculptures of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati, accompanied by musicians, on the ceiling of the ardha mandapa of the temple. The unique carvings of the temple show important events from Ramayana, the Hindu epic.
This temple has an entrance porch with kakshasana, a sabha-mandapa, an ardha-madapa and a sanctum that is surrounded by a circumambulatory path. The unique thing to be noted here is that this temple does not include Nandi-mandapa, though an exquisite figure of Nandi has been kept in the sabha-mandapa. The intricate carvings of this temple themselves ensure that it deserves to be on the 'must see' list of all tourists headed towards Pattadakal.