Banavasi is an ancient temple town in Uttara Kannada, Karnataka. Banavasi was the ancient capital of the Kannada empire Kadamba who ruled entire Uttara Kannada district. They were the first native empire to give prominence to Kannada.
Banavasi is the oldest town in the Karnataka state. It has grown up around the Madhukeshwara Temple built in the 9th century and dedicated to Lord Shiva the supreme God in Shaivism, a major branch of Hinduism.
Coin of the Kadamba king who calls himself on the coin "sri dosharashi," thought to be Krishnavarma II (ruled c. 516-540). The reverse of the coin has the legend shashanka, which means "moon." The Kannada letters and another coin can be seen in the entry for Kadambas of Banavasi
In 2006, a 5th-century copper coin was discovered here with an inscription in the Kannada script, one of the oldest such coins ever discovered. The Directorate of Archaeology and Museums said that the coin's inscription in archaic Kannada proves beyond doubt that Banavasi had a mint in the 5th century.
Adikavi Pampa, the first poet of Kannada, wrote his epics in Banavasi.
The town once was the capital of the Kadamba rulers, an ancient royal dynasty of Karnataka. They established themselves there in A.D. 345 and ruled South India for at least two centuries.