Location: At Cholachigud, Near Badami in Karnataka
Built in: 17th century
Dedicated to: Goddess Banashankari
Significance: Banashankari is the incarnation of Goddess Parvati
How to reach: One can easily reach Banashankari Temple by taking regular Buses or by hiring taxis from anywhere in Karnataka
Banashankari Temple is a popular and highly revered shrine of Karnataka. Located at Cholachigud, Banashankari Temple lies at a distance 50 kms from Badami. The town of Badami is another destination renowned for its ancient cave temples. The nearest railway station to Cholachigud is located at Badami and from here; many buses or taxis can be availed to reach the temple. On the whole, various tourism buses and coaches are available throughout Karnataka to arrive at Cholachigud.
Banashankari Devi is considered as the incarnation of Goddess Parvati, who is regarded as the divine consort of Lord Shiva. The mention of Banashankari has been made in the Skanda Purana (an ancient scripture), where the Goddess slaughtered a demon named Durgamasura. Since, the temple is positioned in the Tilakaaranya forest; the Devi came to be known as Banashankari or Vanashankari. The term Banashankari is derived from two words; 'Ban' (Van) meaning 'forest' and 'Shankari' meaning 'the lover of Lord Shiva'.
In the main shrine, the image of Banashankari Devi reveals the Goddess in a sitting posture. The Goddess can be seen seated on a growling lion and crushing a demon with her foot. The idol is carved out of a black stone. The Goddess Banashankari is depicted here with eight arms, holding trishul, damaruga, kamaalpatra, ghanta, Veda scripts and khadg-kheta in her different hands. It is believed that the Goddess was the 'Kuladevi' of the Chalukyas.
Initially, Banasankari Mandir was built by the Chalukyas of Kalyan; however the present structure traces its origin in the 17th century. The ancient temple of Banasankari represents the Dravidian style of architecture. 'Haridra Tirtha' is a large pond, which makes the foreground of this temple. The term 'Haridra Tirtha' is the corrupted version of the term 'Harishchandra Tirtha'. This pond is encircled by stone mantapas on its three sides.
Banashankari Temple observes an annual festival during the months of January-February. At this juncture of time, the image of the Goddess is placed in a chariot and taken in a procession around the region. Huge crowds of devotees come to attend this festival of Banashankari Devi.