Sri Badami Banashankari Devi is a deity worshipped at least since the Chalukya era of Golden Karnataka. Located in Badami Taluk of Bagalkote District, Banashankari temple is a famous Shakti Peetha in North Karnataka. Millions of devotees worship this Devi as their Kuldevi.
King Jagadekamalla III built this temple in 603 CE and installed the Banashankari Devi Murti here. She is the family deity of the Kalyana Chalukyas.
Marari Dandanayaka “Parasurama Agale” reconstructed this in 1750 CE. Goddess Banashankari is decorated with unique ornaments and sarees for nine days during Navratri. All her devotees pay visits to the temple during these 9 days of Navaratri to witness the 9 swaroops of Devi.
Historical Significance of Badami Banashankari
This temple has its own historical traces.
Skanda Purana mentions the stories of Badami Banashankari – the patron deity of the Chalukyas and neighboring kings.
In the past, a fierce asura called Durgamasura lived in a forest, Tilakaranya. He was giving hardship not only to the people living there but also to the sages. Unable to withstand the torture of Durgamasura, the sages go to the gods. At that time, Adishakti, a form of Parvati, appeared from the Yagna Kund and smothered Durgamasura.
So “Bana” means forest, and Shankari means “Parvatishvarupa” or Shakti of Shankara- hence the name Banashankari.
Shakhambari, another name for Banashankari Amma, comes from an interesting story.
Once upon a time, people were suffering without anything to eat or drink in a town, ravaged by drought. At such a time, Goddess Banashankari quenched the thirst of Mother Earth with her tears and brought life to her devotees. She satiates people’s hunger by creating Shaka (vegetables) and Amba refers to mother. That is why the goddess is also worshipped with the name Shakhambari.
Shakambari is also mentioned in Durga Saptashati as one of the manifestations of Devi for current times.
Different names of Amma
People worship the goddess Banashankari by names like Balavva, Banadavva, Chaudeshwari, Sankavva Vanadurge, and Vanashankari. She is Simhavahini or the one who rides the lion.
The Murti of the Devi in black stone is mesmerizing. Lakshmi and Saraswati’s united form of the goddess Banashankari is worshipped mainly in Karnataka, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu.
Temple Architecture & Banashankari Amma Murthi
The present structure of Banashankari Amma temple that we see is in Vijayanagara architectural style. The original temple was in the Dravidian architectural style. A tall wall or Prakara surrounds the temple from all sides.
Temple consists of a rectangular mandapa or hall with a towered entrance called Gopuram. The gopuram showcases the carvings of a variety of deities and Pauranic figures. It serves as the gateway to the main shrine.
The main structure has a mukha mandapa, ardha mandapa – an entrance chamber in front of the sanctum, and a shrine topped by a Vimana. Inside the temple is a large open space, called a courtyard or Angala, surrounded by pillared halls. These halls are used for religious gatherings and ceremonies.
Inside the Garbhagudi, the sacred Murti of Banashankari Amma is made of beautiful black stone. She sits on a lion, with a demon under her feet. The eight-armed Banashankari amma is holding Trishula, a bell, Dhamaru, a sword, a shield, and an asura head.
Festivals at Banashankari Temple
At the front of the temple is a square-shaped Kalyani or water tank called “Haridrathirtha.”
There is a unique custom in this Kalyani. Newborn babies are put 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 the beloved goddess of Rahu. Hence devotees light a lemon lamp during the Rahu Kala. The belief is that by following this ritual, Rahu Dosha is removed.
As part of “Palleda Habba” or vegetable festival, Devi is decorated with various vegetables. Apart from that, various curries are prepared and offered to Banashankari Devi. This tradition has been followed for decades, and 108 varieties of food items prepared with different vegetables are offered to the goddess on the day.
Another popular cultural event, or festival, in North Karnataka, is Banashankari Jatra, or the annual fair that lasts about 4 weeks. It is celebrated on the full moon day or Purnima of the Hindu 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 the 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, with street vendors selling various items such as sweets, flowers, clothes, and toys.
Navaratri Celebration at Banashankari Amma Temple – Badami
The most important Navratri in a Hindu Calendar falls in Ashwin month, or September – October. However, this temple in Karnataka celebrates Navratri in the month of Paush. This nine-day festival celebrates the Goddess Banashankari.
Banadashtami is the most auspicious day. Fairs and festivals take place during this time at Banashankari temples and across North Karnataka.
Authentic North Karnataka Meals at Temple
Local women prepare corn/maze/Sorghum roti, Karagadubu (Puran Kadabu), Kalupalle (sprouts curry), red chili chutney, and Pundi Palle (Gongura curry). They bring all this to the temple to offer the tired devotees.
They take minimal 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 do not eat “Rotti/bread” meals offered outside the temple, your journey is not complete.
Padayatra or Foot Pilgrimage to Badami Banashankari
Yes, it is a common practice among devotees to undertake a Padayatre, or a pilgrimage on foot, to the temple, especially on the full moon day. This tradition is especially popular during the annual Banashankari fair in January or February.
Devotees usually start their Padayatre from their homes or nearby towns and villages, walking long distances to reach the Banashankari temple in Badami. Some devotees also undertake the journey barefoot as a sign of devotion and penance.
It is a sacred and spiritual experience, a way of seeking the blessings of the Banashankari Amma. Many devotees undertake this journey yearly, often with their families and friends. Belief is that it strengthens the faith and devotion to the goddess.
Reaching Banashankari Temple in Badami
Though the temple is located on the outskirts of the town, it is easily accessible by road. One has to reach the nearest town, Badami, and then proceed to Banashankari, around 4 KM from there.
The nearest airports to Badami are Hubbali and Belgaum airports, 110 KM and 130 KM away. Those who prefer train journeys can easily do so as the town is well-connected by Railways.
Once you reach Badami, regular KSRTC buses run to Banashankari. If not, one can also take an auto or tanga ride (horse cart) with minimal charges.
Tourist attractions nearby
Badami is a historic town of the Chalukya dynasty with many ancient temples and rock-cut monuments. One can explore several places around the temple, such as:
- Badami Caves: The Badami Caves or cave temples are a group of four cave temples carved into soft sandstone cliffs.
- Aihole: Aihole is a historic town 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 water springs.
Badami-Aihole-Pattadakal is a popular tourist circuit in Karnataka.
These nearby places offer a glimpse into Karnataka’s rich history and culture. They are worth visiting if you are visiting the region.
This is a Guest Post by Gayatri Ari from Ilkal, a place famous for sarees. A quality specialist by profession. Her true passion lies in traveling the world and exploring new cultures. As a nature and spiritual traveler, she finds solace in the beauty of nature and enjoys the spiritual essence of different places.