Banavasi is an ancient temple town in Uttara Kannada District bordering Shivamogga district, on the banks of river Varada in Karnataka. Distance from Banavasi to Hassan, Karnataka is 274.8 km and takes around 5 h 22 min via NH206.
It is recognised as the first capital of ancient Karnataka when the Kadamba dynasty ruled over the region from the fourth to the sixth centuries. A fifth century copper coin was discovered in Banavasi recently.
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.
Banavasi is one of the oldest towns in the Karnataka. 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.
Adikavi Pampa, the first poet of Kannada, wrote his epic poems in Banavasi.
The town once was the capital of the Kadamba rulers, an ancient royal dynasty of Karnataka. They established themselves there in A.D. 345 and ruled for at least two centuries.
Tourist Attractions in Banavasi
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.
The neatly laid out banana and areca nut plantations or the chequered rice fields offer ample shade for a leisurely picnic. Pineapple is the speciality at Banavasi.
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