The sapphirine granulites from Gangaraju Madugula, Eastern Ghats Belt (EGB), India preserve a rich variety of mineral assemblages and unique isolated and composite mineral inclusions within garnet that provide robust evidence for extreme crustal metamorphism at ultrahigh temperature (UHT) conditions (>900°C). Diagnostic UHT assemblages in these rocks include sapphirine + quartz, spinel + quartz and high alumina orthopyroxene + sillimanite + quartz. The stability of spinel + quartz, sapphirine + quartz and orthopyroxene + sillimanite + quartz assemblages provides evidence for temperatures exceeding 960°C at moderate pressures. The mineral association of garnet–orthopyroxene is indicative of a subsequent high P–UHT metamorphic event as indicated by the high alumina contents of orthopyroxene (>10 wt% Al2O3) coexisting with garnet. Peak P–T conditions of ∼970°C and 9.5 kbars are calculated from conventional garnet–orthopyroxene geothermobarometry. Calculated isochemical sections constructed in the model system Na2O–CaO–K2O–FeO–MgO–Al2O3–SiO2–H2O–TiO2–Fe2O3 (NCKFMASHTO) for the sapphirine granulites and garnet–orthopyroxene granulites adequately predict phase relationships that are consistent with those observed in the rocks. An evaluation of the assemblages and textures and P–T estimates indicate a three-stage evolution of the sapphirine granulites and associated garnet–orthopyroxene granulites: (1) inclusion assemblages with sapphirine, spinel and quartz on the low-pressure prograde path (M1 stage); (2) a peak UHT assemblage of porphyroblastic garnet–orthopyroxene (M2 stage) and (3) a retrogression that resulted in orthopyroxene–cordierite intergrowths and biotite rims on Grt (M3 stage). The sapphirine granulites and associated garnet–orthopyroxene granulites indicate that they grew during the prograde and retrograde stage. The thermo-barometric estimates from mineral compositions and the complimentary isochemical sections approached from bulk rock compositions allow tighter constraints to be placed on the P–T evolution of this sector of the EGB. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.