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Tuesday, April 16 2024
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Start of times: Banavasi

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Older than the Himalayan mountains, the western ghats which lies along the borders of Karnataka are home to some of the most beautiful places in the state. These places are tucked away in the canopy of forest and are naturally infused with the tradition and culture of the land. Some of these hold the key to unravelling the history and the origins of the place we live in.

The state of Karnataka took its form with the arrival of the Kadamba dynasty which were the first indigenous dynasty to use Kannada, the language of the soil at an administrative level. Looking back at the history of the state, this era is seen as the starting point in the study of the development of region as an enduring geo-political entity and Kannada as an important regional language. The Kadambas gave the much-needed prominence to Kannada and Karnataka.

The Kadambas were contemporaries of the Western Ganga Dynasty. They ruled the land from the ancient town of Banavasi which is known as the first capital city of the state. The name Banavasi is an amalgamation of the term ‘Bana’ meaning forest and ‘Vasi’ meaning spring. True to its meaning, the town is situated in the banks of the Varada river and is surrounded by the thick rainforests of the western ghats. This is one of the oldest towns in Karnataka and is even referred to in the Mahabharata.

Apart from being a symbolic place in the history, the town owes its popularity to the Madhukeshwara temple located right at the center which was built in the 9th century. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva worshipped as Lord Madhukeshwara. The presiding deity of Madhukeshwara is a honey-colored Shiva Linga dedicated during the time of Mayura Varma, the ruler of Kadambas.

The town is also known as the center for the Yakshagana art form. Every year the state government holds a cultural extravaganza with vibrant Yakshagana performances and other musical and dance art forms in an event known as the Kadambotsava. The festival includes folk dancers, drama troupes, classical musicians, art exhibitions, drawing together performers, artistes, and writers from most parts of south India. Such display of tradition invites pilgrims and tourist who flock to the town to see its beauty with their own eyes.

Banavasi holds some of the oldest architectural brilliance in southern India and the temple is one of the best examples. The ancient Dravidian architecture can be seen in other places like Veerabhadra temple located in the town. The remains of the great Kadamba dynasty are found in the town of Banavasi.  A 5th century copper coin was recovered from the place which contained an inscription in the Kannada script. This was one of the oldest such coins ever discovered. The other attractions of Banavasi temple are monolith Asthana Mantapa, Triloka Mantapa and a huge Nandi.

Banavasi is situated on the border of Shivamogga and Sirsi in Uttara Kannada district. Many other attractions invite people to visit these towns. Altogether, Banavasi is a pleasant experience as Sirsi is home to some of the most beautiful waterfalls, namely the Magod falls, Jog falls as well as Unchalli falls. This ancient town is located at a distance of 380 Kms from Bengaluru.

Image courtesy Shashidhara halady, Dineshkannambadi, Deepti deshpande, Jughead I from Wikimedia Commons

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SC H Varghese

Harshita Mary Varghese graduated with a Masters in Journalism and Mass Communication from St. Aloysius College Mangaluru and is quickly learning the ropes of the emerging Media Industry. She has excellent language and reportage skills. She excels at human interest and travel stories.

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