Banavasi is an ancient temple town on the border of Uttara Kannada District and Shivamogga district in the south Indian state of Karnataka . Nestled deep in the forests of Western Ghats, this temple town resides on the Varadha river. In its fertile soil grows rice, sugarcane, arecanut, spices and the famous Banavasi Pineapple. But why does this quaint, little known town come into the limelight once every year?
Though Banavasi means 'nestled in the forest', it has a history rivalled by no other town in the entire state. Ptolemy, the ancient Greek geographer, wrote about a place called 'Bansi' in South India. Banavasi is the place where Pampa, the first poet of Kannada, wrote his epic poems. This was the capital of the Kadambas, the first kingdom of ancient Karnataka. This is where the temple architecture of the Chalukyas and the Hoysalas got its basic elements. This was the ancient place of learning to which scholars flocked from other states like Goa and Maharashtra. But there is very little here that reminds us of its glorious past. In fact, the only reminder of the Kadamba era is the famous Madhukeshwara Temple around which the town has grown. Built in stone nearly 1500 years ago, this temple is one of the earliest evidence of architectural splendour of the Kadamba era. This temple dedicated to Lord Shiva was modified with additional structures by later dynasties. This unique feature of the temple illustrates how the architectural styles evolved from the 9th Century to present times.
The innermost sanctum sanctorum is built in a very plain style with minimal carving on the door and the lintel. The Sankalpa mantapa in front reveals the influence of the Chalukyan style. There is a seven foot huge Nandi idol made of a single stone. The Nritya mantapa or the dancing hall was added during the Hoysala period and has exquisite carving on the pillars and the ceiling. This is the spot where the legendary Shantala challenged the famed musician Allama Prabhu. She went on to become the wife of king Vishnuvardhana and inspired the renowned dancing sculptures of Belur and Halebid.
The presiding deity of Madhukeshwara is a honey coloured lingam dedicated during the period of Mayura Varma, the first king of Kadambas. Legend has it that he was originally Mayura Sharma, a Brahmin studying in Kanchipuram. Humiliated by the Pallava princes, he vowed revenge. He took up the study of warfare or Kshathriya Vidya and became a warrior king who established the Kadamba dynasty in 345.A.D.
Now, centuries later, Banavasi is returning to its former glory as a cultural capital. Every December, folk dancers, classical musicians, drama troupes, Yakshagana artistes assemble for 'Kadambothsav', a huge cultural festival bringing together artistes and performers from all over south India. This big event, organized by the state government, is attended by dignitaries and eminent literary personalities.
Banavasi has always been a centre of culture, mainly the Yakshagana art form. Local artisans are now commercially selling the renowned Yakshagana masks here. So, whether you are an art and culture connoisseur or an antiquity buff, be in Banavasi this year end to relish the sweet pineapple and watch the best assembly of folk dancers!
Banavasi is one of the oldest towns in the Karnataka state. It has grown up around the Madhukeshwara Temple built in the 9th century and dedicated to Lord Shiva the supreme God in Shaivism , a major branch of Hinduism .
Recently a 5th century copper coin was discovered here with an inscription in the Kannada script , one of the oldest such coins ever discovered. The Directorate of Archaeology and Museums said that the coin's inscription in archaic Kannada proves beyond doubt that Banavasi had a mint in the 5th century. The coin's discovery supports those seeking classical status for the Kannada language .
Pampa , the first poet of Kannada, wrote his epic poems in Banasavi.
The town once was the capital of the Kadamba rulers, an ancient royal dynasty of Karnataka. They established themselves there in 345 A.D. and ruled for at least two centuries.
Banavasi lies deep in the rain forests of Western Ghats with the Varadha river flowing around it on three sides. It is located 374 km from Bangalore . The nearest railway station is 112 km away in Shimoga . Sirsi , 18 km away, is the nearest town. Banavasi has no lodging.
The annual December cultural festival, Kadambothsav, is a huge gathering, organized by the state government, and featuring folk dancers, drama troupes, classical musicians, art exhibitions, while drawing together performers, artists, and writers from all of south India .
Banavasi has long been a cultural centre, especially the Yakshagana art form. Today local artisans craft and sell the classical folk art Yakshagana masks here.
Kadamba Dynasty >>
||374 kms from Bangalore
Sirsi 18kms away. Karwar - 144km
Dabolim (Goa) - 249km
|By Road: -
|By Rail: -
Nearest Rail head: Shimoga-112kms away.
|By Air: -
||Airports at Mangalore , Bangalore and Hubli can be used as an alternative. However, there are plans to develop an airport near Marle village about 10 km from Chikkamagaluru city . Dabolim (Goa) - 249km
||Banavasi lies deep in the rain forests of Western Ghats with the Varadha river flowing around it on three sides. It is located 374 km from Bangalore . The nearest railway station is 112 km away in Shimoga . Sirsi , 18 km away, is the nearest town. Banavasi has no lodging.
||Bangalore to Banavasi via Shimoga.
|When to go:-
||Best time to visit: December- Kadambothsav and February- Mahashivarathri.
||KSTDC(bookings and info) Badami House, NR Square, Bangalore Tel: 080-2275869, Fax: 2352626 Email: email@example.com
|Where to stay :-
Hotel Shivani Garden Land, Sirsi, Uttara Kannada - 581 402 Tel: 08384- 237797 Fax: 08384-237797
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web site: www.hotelshivani.com Tariff Range: Rs. 350/- to Rs. 1200/-
Hotel Panchavati Adarshnagar, Yellapur Road, Sirsi, Uttara Kannada - 581 402 Tel: 08384-239774
Fax: 08384-238301 Tariff Range: Rs. 300/- to Rs. 700/-
Hotel Madhuvana College Road, Sirsi Taluk,
Uttara Kannada - 581 402 Tel: 08384-237799, 237759 Tariff Range: Rs. 200/- to Rs. 400/-
Samrat Guest House Yellapur Road, SirsiTaluk,
Uttara Kannada - 581 402 Tel: 08384-236278
Tariff Range: Rs. 100/- to Rs. 350/-
Hotel Seema Lodge A A Gangoli, NatrajRoad, Sirsi Taluk, Uttara Kannada - 581 401 Tel: 08384-226989
Tariff Range: Rs. 130/- to Rs. 225/-
Hotel Netravati Near Marikamba Temple, Banavasi Road, Sirsi Taluk, Uttara Kannada - 581 401 Tel: 08382-229063 - 65 Tariff Range: Rs. 120/- to Rs. 200/-