Thursday, June 5, 2014

Karnataka less travelled - I- Banavasi



Banavasi  name itself sounds so melodious to me. May be I  am biased with Pampa, Kannada’s first poet lived during the 10 century. He describes Banavasi as the most beautiful place. He says ‘ I would like to reborn in Banavasi. If not as a human being at least as a bee or as a bird I would like to be born in Banavasi’. That says a lot about this place. Ever since I read Pampa during my school days I wanted to go there sometime. As I grew and lost in the world of college there after balancing work and  life, I forgot Banavasi. 6 months back when I read about rural tourism being developed in Banavasi it again rekindled my interest. My yearning to go there started. However, I couldn’t make it for few months until last weekend. I traveled there with my 3 year old daughter. This was our first mom and daughter travel. 



Architecture, temples, Pineapple fields, water falls, river, tasty food what more can be expected from a weekend ? That was Banavasi to Viha and me.

Nestled in the western ghats,  Banavasi is a small town ( or I can call it as big village) in the district Uttara kannada. At the distance of 21 km from Sirsi,  Banavasi can be your hub to travel to many more less travelled places of Karnataka.
Literal  meaning of Banavasi is  one who dwells in the forest. To its reputation, Banavasi is surrounded by green forest. It is located on the bank of Varada river. I always admire the good taste of those who named rivers. Look at the names of few rivers around Banavasi- Varada, Aghanashini, Shalmala !!!

The history of  Banavasi goes  back to 350 AD. Yes it is about 1700 years old. It is the oldest town of Karanatka. It was the capital of Kadambas and then Chalukyas followed by Hoysalas, Rastrakutas,Vijayanagar kingdom and Sode ruled Banavasi(I may not be in the right order of rulers).We can see different styles of architecture in many of the temples and monuments. This   amalgamation of many cultures could be due to different dynasties who ruled Banavasi over many centuries. They say that  there were many Buddhist monasteries and Jain  temples. Being from Karnataka  I felt as if I am here in my ancestors place. It is the land of Karnataka’s roots.
Remains  of old fort envelops Banavasi. Most of the places remnants of the fort can be seen. However, It is still intact in few places. 


Madhukeshwara temple is the main attraction of Banavasi. Will write about it separately.There are water falls and many more interesting architectural monuments which are less travelled. Village tourism committee has developed few itineraries around 75 kms. That includes Keladi, Ikkeri, Balligavi, Talaguppa and Bandalike. If you want to be lost in nature, there are water falls like Jog falls and Lucington falls also called as Unchalli falls. We can just take a walk in the forest as Banavasi is blessed with lush forest////. There are a lot of Jaina and Buddhist places. To explore Banavasi and around the places it needs at least a week. There are many artisans in Banavasi.They work on sculpture, wood carvings and and carvings on different surfaces.We can just laze around watching them work or try to learn something from them.


How can I forget pineapple fields of Banavasi? They grow yummy pineapples. March to May is the pineapple harvesting time. I bought a book of pineapple recipes.

My travel was short and I was accompanied by my little one which was restricting my movement.Hence I  could go only to few places.
How to reach ?
Banavasi is located 375 kms from Bangalore.
By Bus – From Bangalore there are plenty of buses to Sirsi. From Sirsi every 30 minutes buses are there to Banavasi. I travelled by Rajahamsa bus which starts from Bangalore at 10.30 pm. This was the only direct bus available.You need to get down after Soraba.Banavasi is after Soraba. Bus continues further to Sirsi.
By Train – Nearest Railway station is Haveri which is 70 kms, Hubli 100 kms and Karwar 145 kms.
By Air – Nearest airport is Mangalore which is 250 kms from Banavasi.
Where to stay ?
I  stayed in Vanavasika guest house. This  guest house is   run by Village tourism committee. They have started with an intention to develop rural tourism. This is located on the main road slightly away from the town. It is a basic accommodation  with no frills. Absolutely no luxury. They could have maintained it in a better way. I was told, It was built few years back and was not operational for many years. From last 3 years it is operational. If they improve the quality of accommodation I am sure it will attract more travelers.

Other highlight of staying here is Brahmakumar ( 9886641496), who is the administrator cum caretaker cum guide. He is a very  helpful person. His enthusiasm in showing the places is admirable. You might be tired of going around but he will not be tired. His ever smiling personality and his energy in showing you interesting places will cover up for all the lacking you find in the accommodation.
Apart from Vanavasika, there are few home stays around this place.
What to eat ?
In Vanavasika guest house they don’t cook. But they take us to local homes to taste local food. I tasted appe huli ( Curry prepared from Mango), Tambuli ( Curry prepared with curd), Talipittu(Rice bread), Todedevu(Sweet) and jowar roti. No, I wouldn’t be able to explain what these are. You got to taste them. Moreover, having your meals with locals and get to know them and their cuisine itself is an experience. Vihaa made friendship with a toddler from one of these homes where I had food and played well with him.

More from Banavasi basket soon..

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