Banavasi is tucked away deep inside the forests of the Western Ghats.Located in the Uttara Kannada district, the town is located on the banks of the Varda river.
Behind The Name – The name Banavasi comes from the words Bana’ and Vasi’, which mean forest’ and spring’, respectively. The town literally sprung up from a forest and thus got its name. Banavasi is acknowledged as being one of the oldest towns in Karnataka and is referred to in the Mahabharata.
Facts about the Madhukeshwara Temple
- Main Deity: Shiva
- Best Time to Visit: September to January
- Temple Timings: All Day
- Entry Fee: Free
- Visit Duration 1-2 hour
Madhukeshwara Temple – A 9th Century Marvel
Located in one of the oldest cities of India, Banavasi, the Madhukeshwara temple has religious and historical significance. During Mahashivratri people from across the country flock this temple to celebrate the festival. If you are touring Karnataka, you cannot leave without visiting this temple.
Banavasi was the first capital city of Karnataka when it was ruled by the Kadamba dynasty. The city dates back to 375 AD. It has been mentioned in revered terms by Chinese traveler-monk, Huen Tsang, Greco-Roman writer, Ptolemy, Kalidasa and Chamarasa. Over the years, it was given many different names; Konkanapura, Nandanavana, Vanavasika, etc. Today the main structure that remains is the Madhukeshwara temple.
Overview of the Madhukeshwara Temple
The Madhukeshwara temple gets its name from the honey-hued Shiva Lingam inside the sanctum. The temple dates back to the 9th century and hence is one of Karnataka’s oldest temples. It was commissioned by Mayura Sharma from the Kadamba dynasty.
Inside the Nritya Mandapa is a 7-foot tall monolithic statue of the Nandi Bull. This is positioned in such a way that the left eye seems to be looking at Lord Shiva and the right eye is directed towards Parvati. What is interesting to note is that the line of sight has been created in such a way that the pillars do not intersect it.
One of the highlights of this temple is an intricately carved stone cot and a triloka mandapa. This was made by the Sonde rulers. The cot sits in a separate mandapa within the praharam. This is not made with soft stone but with granite which is much harder to carve.
The cot is made up of ten separate pieces. It is used during the Rath yatra festivals for the ashtavathama poojas. The triloka mandapa depicts Shiva and Parvathi in the centre surrounded by the Kailasa Sikara, Sesha lok and Bathala lok.
Another unique attraction of this temple is a vertically sliced Ganesha idol. It is believed that the other half of this stone idol is in Varanasi.
How to Reach
Banavasi lies 374 km away from Bangalore. The nearest airport at Hubli lies 100 km away. Haveri, the railway station closest to Banavasi, is located at a distance of 70 km. Commute is never an issue as the town is well connected.
Best Time To Visit Banavasi – month of December, when the state government organizes a huge event known as the Kadambothsav. The event is a cultural extravaganza with classical dance forms like the Yakshagana and music performances. In fact, the town is a centre for the Yakshagana art form.