Temples of Karnataka - Sringeri Temple

by V.A.Ponmelil (All rights reserved by the author)

The Sringeri temple is situated amidst the Sahyadri hills in Chikmagalur district of Karnataka on the left bank of Tungabhadra river at 150 km from Mangalore. Being the home of Sharada Peetham established by the revered saint Sri Adi Shankaracharya, it is one of the most celebrated pilgrimage centers in Karnataka. The Sringagiri hills near Sringeri is said to be the birth place of Sage Rishyasringa.

The Sharadamba Temple of Sringeri has Sharada Devi as the main deity enshrined on the Sri Chakra Peetham, holding a Japa Mala, with a parrot perched on the top of her hand. Sri Adi Shankaracharya installed the original image of sandalwood, and it was later replaced with a golden image, in the 14th century. The Southern Prakaram has the processional image of Sharadamba enshrined.

The shrines of Shakti Ganapati and Bhuvaneswari are also present here apart from the shrine of Aadi Sankara. On Fridays, the procession of Sharadamba is taken around the temple in a silver chariot. In Navaratri festival season, special pujas and processions are organized for the goddess.

Sri Adi Sankaracharya by establishing the Sharada Peetham at Sringeri started the Bharati Sampradaya to propagate the philosophy of non dualism. His disciple Sureshwaracharya was the first head of the Sringeri Peetham. One of the greatest gurus of this Peetham was Vidyashankara of Vidyathirtha, who was the head of this Peetham for a period of 105 years between 1228 AD and 1333 AD.

Vidyaranya who headed the peetham from 1331 AD to 1386 AD was also another extraordinary leader, who was responsible for the establishment of the Vijayanagara Empire. Even Tippu Sultan of Srirangapatna has given gifts to Sringeri for conducting the Sahasra Chandi Japa for the welfare of the country.

The Vidyashankar temple built by Vidyaranya is exquisitely sculptured and it houses the Vidyatirtha linga. The temple has Dravidian and Hoysala style of temple architecture with 12 zodiac pillars arranged in such a way that sun’s rays fall on the pillar corresponding to the appropriate month. There are stone lions having stone balls in the mouths of the lions which can be rotated. Buddha is depicted as an incarnation of Vishnu.


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