Sri Badami Banashankari Devi is a deity worshiped since at least the Chalukya era of Golden Karnataka. Banashankar Temple located in Badami Taluk of Bagalkote District is a famous Shakti Peetha in North Karnataka. Millions of devotees worship this Devi as their Kuldev.
King Jagadekamalla III built this temple in AD. 603 AD and installed Banashankar’s Devi Murthy here. He is the family deity of the Kalyana Chalukyas.
Marari Dandanayaka ‘Parasurama Agale’ rebuilt it in AD. in 1750. During Navratri, Goddess Banashankari is adorned with unique ornaments and saree for nine days. All her devotees visit the temple during these 9 days of Navaratri to witness the 9 boats of Devi.
Historical Significance of Banashankari of Badami
This temple has its historical traces.
The Skanda Purana mentions the stories of Banashankari of Badami, the patron deity of the Chalukyas and neighboring kings.
Once upon a time, a fierce asura called Durgamasura lived in the Tilakaran forest. He troubled not only the people living there, but also the sages. Unable to endure Durgamasura’s torture, the sages go to the gods. At that time, Adishakti, the form of Parvati appeared from the Yagna Kund and strangled Durgamasura.
So ‘Bana’ means forest and Shankari means ‘Parvatishwarupa’ or Shanki’s Shakti – hence the name Banashankari.
Shakhambari, another name of Banashankar’s Amma, originates from an interesting story.
Once upon a time, people were suffering in a drought-ravaged city without anything to eat or drink. At such a time Goddess Banashankari quenched the thirst of Mother Earth with her tears and gave life to her devotees. She satisfies people’s hunger by creating Shaka (vegetables), and Amba refers to the mother. That is why the goddess is also worshiped under the name of Shakhambari.
Shakambari is also mentioned in the Durga Saptashati as one of the manifestations of the Devi of the present times.
Different names for Amma
People worship Goddess Banashankar with names like Balavva, Banadavva, Chaudeshwari, Sankavva Vanadurge and Vanashankari. He is Simhavahini or the lion rider.
Devi Murthy in black stone is mesmerizing. The combined form of Goddess Banashankari of Lakshmi and Saraswati is worshiped mainly in Karnataka, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
Temple Architecture & Banashangari Amma Murthi
The current structure of Banashankar’s Amma temple we see in the Vijayanagara architectural style. The original temple was in the Dravidian architectural style. A high wall or Prakara surrounds the temple on all sides.
T:the temple consists of a rectangular mandapa or hall with a towered entrance called Gopuram. The gopuram displays carvings of a number of deities and Pauranic figures. It serves as the gateway to the main shrine.
The main structure has a mukha mandapa, an ardha mandapa, an entrance chamber in front of the sanctum sanctorum, and a sanctum sanctorum topped by a Vimana. Inside the temple is a large open space called the courtyard or Angala, surrounded by pillared halls. These halls are used for religious gatherings and ceremonies.
Inside the Garbhagudi, the holy Murti of Banashankar Amma is made of beautiful black stone. He sits on a lion, with a demon under his feet. Eight-armed Banashankar Amma holds Trishula, bell, Damaru, sword, shield and asura head.
Festivals at Banashankar Temple
At the front of the temple is a square shaped Kalyan or water tank called ‘Haridratirtha’.
There is a special custom in this Kalyan. Newborn babies are placed in cradles made of banana leaves and left on a raft in this Kalyani. The perception here is that it will benefit the children and their future.
Shakhambari is Rahu’s favorite goddess. Hence devotees light a lemon lamp during Rahu Kala. The belief is that by following this ritual, the Rahu Dosha is removed.
As part of ‘Palleda Habba’ or vegetable festival, Devi is decorated with various vegetables. Besides, various curries are prepared and offered to Banashankari Devi. This tradition has been followed for decades and on that day, 108 types of food prepared with different vegetables are offered to the goddess.
Another popular cultural event or festival in North Karnataka is the Banashankari Jatra or the annual fair that lasts for about 4 weeks. It is celebrated on the full day or Purnima of the Hindu lunar calendar month of Magha or simply Magh Purnima. It roughly falls in January/February. This is believed to be the most auspicious time to worship Goddess Laxmi and her incarnations.
During the fair, thousands of devotees from all over Karnataka flock to the Banashankari temple to offer prayers and seek the blessings of the goddess. The fair creates a lively, vibrant and colorful atmosphere where street vendors sell a variety of items such as sweets, flowers, clothes and toys.
Navaratri Celebration at Banashankar Amma Temple – Badami
In the Hindu calendar, Navratri, the most important, falls in the month of Ashwin or September-October. However, this temple in Karnataka celebrates Navratri in the month of Paush. This nine-day festival celebrates Goddess Banashankar.
Banashtami is the most suitable day. During this time fairs and festivals are held in Banashankar temples and North Karnataka.
Authentic North Karnataka food at Temple
Local women make Maize/Maze/Sorghum Roti, Karagadubu (Puran Kadabu), Kalupale (Sprout Curry), Red Chilli Chili and Pundi Palle (Gongura Curry). All these are brought to the temple to be offered to the weary devotees.
They charge minimum charges like Rs 30-50 per plate. The taste of such food is different. Just feel it and words are short to explain.
If you ever visit Banashankari and don’t eat the Rotti/bread meals offered outside the temple, your trip is not complete.
Padayatra or foot pilgrimage to Banashankar of Badami
Yes, it is a common practice among devotees to perform the Padayatr or pilgrimage on foot to the temple, especially on a full moon day. This tradition is especially popular during the annual Banashankar fair in January or February.
Devotees usually start their Padayatre from their homes or nearby towns and villages, traveling long distances to reach the Banashankar Temple in Badami. Some devotees also travel barefoot as a sign of devotion and penance.
It is a sacred and spiritual experience, a way to seek the blessings of Banashankar Amma. Many devotees undertake this journey every year, often with their families and friends. The belief is that it strengthens faith and devotion to the Goddess.
On reaching Badami Banashankar Temple
Although the temple is on the outskirts of the city, it is easily accessible by road. One has to reach the nearest town, Badami, and then proceed to Banashankar, about 4 km from there.
The nearest airports to Badami are Hubali and Belgaum airports, 110 km and 130 km away. Those who prefer traveling by train can easily do so as the city is well connected by railways.
After reaching Badam, regular KSRTC buses proceed to Banashankari. If not, you can also take a car or tanga (horse cart) ride for minimal fees.
Tourist attractions nearby
Badami is a historical city of the Chalukya dynasty with many ancient temples and rock-cut monuments. Several places can be explored around the temple such as:
- Badam Caves Badam Caves or cave temples are a group of four cave temples carved into soft sandstone rocks.
- Aihole. Aihole is a historical city and the first capital of the Chalukya dynasty, located about 35 kilometers away.
- Pattadakal. Pattadakal is a UNESCO World Heritage Site about 22 kilometers away.
- Mahakuta. Mahakuta is a small town about 14 kilometers away. Famous for its ancient temples and natural hot springs.
Badami-Aihole-Pattadakal is a famous tourist district in Karnataka.
These nearby places offer a glimpse of Karnataka’s rich history and culture. They are well worth a visit if you are visiting the area.
This is a guest post by Gayathri Ari From Ilkal, a place famous for Sarees. Qualified specialist by profession. Her true passion is traveling the world and discovering new cultures. As a nature and spiritual traveler, he finds solace in the beauty of nature and enjoys the spiritual essence of different places.