Kadambas of Banavasi

Banavasi is a tiny town on the border of north Karnataka and Shimoga districts. It figures in inscription and literature as Vanavasa, Vanavasaka, Vanavasi , Banavase and Banavasi. It is stated in Mahavamsa that Asoka’s emissary Buddha Rakshita was deputed to Vanavasi. Banavasi has grown around the Madhukeshwara temple built in the 9th century and dedicated to Lord Shiva. It also appears to have been the southern headquarters of the Satavahanas. The town was the capital of the Chutus and the Kadamba rulers.

Banavasi-mandala is one of the most ancient territorial divisions of India. Perhaps, Banavasi is the only territorial division which has a very long history of over thousand years from the 4th century onwards. The mandala was formed in this century. According to the Talagunda inscription, Kadamba king Mayurasarma obtained from the Pallavas, the territory between the Western Ocean and Prehara.

During the time of the Rashtrakutas, Banavasi-mandala had taken a concrete shape which covered the area between Varada and Tungabhadra, thus extending over the whole district of Hangal, Shiggaon, Haveri, Byadgi, Ranebennur and Hirekerur taluks. The State Archeological Department of Karnataka found large sized apsidal structure in Donigudda, large brick chaitya of the Satavahana times, sone sculpture identified as that if Skanda resembling the Kartikeya figures found in Nagarjunikonda excavations and typical pottery of Satavahana coins.

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