Banavasi is an ancient temple town in Sirsi, Uttara Kannada in the South Indian state of Karnataka. Banavasi was the ancient capital of the Kannada empire Kadamba who ruled entire Karnataka state. They were the first native empire to give prominence to Kannada and Karnataka.

Banavasi is the oldest town in the Karnataka state.[1] It has grown up around the Madhukeshwara Temple built in the 9th century and dedicated to Shiva[2] the supreme God in Shaivism, a major branch of Hinduism.

5th-century copper coin was discovered here with an inscription in the Kannada script, one of the oldest such coins ever discovered.[3]

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.[4] They established themselves there in A.D. 345 and ruled South India for at least two centuries.[5]

Banavasi contains some of the oldest architectural monuments in southern India.

Banavasi lies in Malenadu region and is surrounded by forests and villages, with the Varada river flowing around it on three sides. Sirsi, is the nearest town about 23 km away. It is 400  km from Bengaluru. The nearest railway stations are 70  km away in Haveri and Talaguppa. The district Headquarters is Karwar.

The soil is fertile around Banavasi and paddy, wheat, sugarcane, arecanut, spices and pineapple are grown. Its specially known for pineapples, bananas and ginger. There are many pineapple farms on the edge of the village.

The annual December cultural festival, Kadambothsava, is a huge gathering, organised by the state government, and featuring folk dancers, drama troupes, classical musicians, art exhibitions while drawing together performers, artists, and writers from throughout south India.

Banavasi has long been a cultural centre, especially the Yakshagana art form. Today local artisans craft and sell the classical folk art Yakshagana masks here.