Shakambhari, an incarnation of goddess Parvati

Banashankari temple surroundings

Banashankari Devi temple at Badami

Shakambhari is the deity at Banashankari temple, Badami which was originally built by Chalukya kings
Shakambhari is the deity at Banashankari temple, Badami which was originally built by Chalukya kings

Banashankari Devi Temple or Banashankari temple is a Hindu shrine located near Badami, in Bagalkot district, Karnataka, India. The temple is popularly called Banashankari or Vanashankari since it is located in the Tilakaaranya forest. The temple deity is also called the Shakambhari , an incarnation of the goddess Parvati. The original temple was built by the 7th century Badami Chalukya kings, who worshipped goddess Banashankari as their kuladevi (tutelary deity)

Banashankari temple with deep stambha (lamp tower)
Banashankari temple with deep stambha (lamp tower)

History

Ringing the temple bell at Banashankari temple, Badami
Ringing the temple bell at Banashankari temple, Badami

Historians have dated the original temple to the 7th century AD – the Kalyani Chalukya period to Jagadekamalla I in 603 AD (according to epigraphic inscriptions) who installed the image of the goddess as their kuladevi. The present refurbished temple was built in 1750, by Parusharam Agale, a Maratha chieftain.

Structure

Banashankari temple surroundings at Badami
Banashankari temple surroundings at Badami

The temple was built initially in the Dravidian architectural style. The rebuilt structure is in the Vijayanagara architectural style. The temple is enclosed by a high wall on all sides. The main structure has a mukha mantapa (portico), ardha mantapa (entrance porch/chamber in front of the sanctum) and a sanctum topped by a Vimana (tower). The main sanctum of the temple has the image of goddess Banashankari deified in it. The black stone sculpture depicts the goddess seated on a lioness trampling a demon under her foot. The goddess has eight arms and holds a trishul (trident), damaru (hand drum), kapaalpatra (skull cup), ghanta (war bell), Vedic scriptures and khadga-kheta (sword and shield). The goddess was the Kuladevi (tutelary deity) of the Chalukyas. 

Cobra carving in stone at Banashankari temple, Badami
Cobra carving in stone at Banashankari temple, Badami

There is a 360 ft (109.7 m) square water tank in the forefront of the temple at the entrance, which is locally called as Haridra Tirtha. The pond is enclosed with stone mantapas (halls) on three sides. A pradakshina or circumambulatory path surrounds the tank.

Lamp towers (Deep stambh) are seen in the foreground of the temple on the west bank of the pond and also at the entrance. The tower on the bank of the tank is also an uncommon guard tower which is “reflects the Vijayanagara blend of Hindu and Islamic style“. It is called the Victory Tower.

Temple ecosystem supports many people
Temple ecosystem supports many people

Festivals

The temple celebrates its annual festival called Banashankari jatre, in the months of January or February. The festival comprises cultural programmes, boat festival as well as a Rath yatra, when the temple goddess is paraded around the city in a chariot.

Legend

The scriptures Skanda Purana and Padma Purana state that the demon Durgamasura harassed the local people constantly. Answering the prayers of the Devas (demi-gods) who appealed to God through a sacrifice to protect them from Durgamasura, the Lord directed the goddess Shakambhari to help the people. The goddess appeared through the fire of the Yagna (fire-sacrifice) in the form of the goddess Shakambhari. She then killed the demon after a fierce encounter and restored peace in the region. Banashankari is considered as the incarnation of goddess Parvati, who is the consort of god Shiva.

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