Navaratri - Sep 29-Oct 8, 2000
Sringeri is one of the most celebrated pilgrimage
centers in Karnataka, and is home to the Sarada Peetham established by
the revered spiritual leader Aadi Sankaracharya. Sringeri is
located amidst the Sahyadri hills in Chikmaglur district of Karnataka on the left bank of
the river Tungabhadra. The nearest railhead is Birur on the Bangalore - Pune railroad. The
nearest airport is at Mangalore (150 km). Bangalore is at a distance of 336 km from
Sringeri. Near Sringeri, are the Sringagiri hills, said to be the birth
place of Sage Rishyasringa.
Aadi Sankaracharya established the
Sarada Peetham here in the 1st millennium CE, and installed an image of Sarada with a Sri
Chakra in front of her, and started the Bharati Sampradaya to propagate the
philosophy of non dualism.
Sankara's disciple Sureshwaracharya was the first head of the Sringeri Peetham.
Vidyashankara of Vidyathirtha, who
was the head of this Peetham for a period of 105 years from 1228 CE to 1333 CE is
considered to be one of the greatest Gurus of this Peetham.
Vidyaranya who headed the peetham
from 1331 CE to 1386 CE was another extraordinary leader, who was instrumental in the
establishment of the Vijayanagara Empire, which not only offered stiff resistance to the
onslaught of destruction from the invading foreign armies, but also caused the flowering
of literary works and great monuments throughout South India andthe preservation of
the ancient temple traditions.
The Vidyashankara temple at Sringeri
was built in memory of Guru Vidyashankara or Vidyathirtha by Vidyaranya, with the aid of
the Vijayanagar rulers in the 14th century. The golden image of Sarada was also
installed then at the Sarada temple. The temple also houses ruby images of
Venugopala and Srinivasa and a Nandi made out of a large pearl. Several inscriptions are
seen in the temple, describing contributions made by the Vijayanagar emperors.
This temple combines the Hoysala and Dravida
architectural features. It stands on a richly sculptured basement. There are six doorways
leading into the temple. The twelve pillars in the mandapam are named the Raasi
pillars, and are so arranged that the sun's rays fall on each of them, in the order of the
Each column also has a large rearing lion, with non
removable rolling stone balls in its mouth. A circular shikhara crowns the sanctum. This
temple also features 61 images carved in bas relief, of various scenes from the puranas.
Buddha is depicted as one of the incarnations of Vishnu here. From across the river, this
temple looks seated like a majestic swan.
(Templenet acknowledges Srinivas Merle for providing
the images above).
Temple: Sarada Devi is enshrined seated on the Sri Chakra Peetham,
holding a Japa Mala, with a parrot perched on the top of her hand. The original image of
sandalwood was installed by Adi Sankaracharya, and it was replaced with a golden image, in
the 14th century. The processional image of Saradamba is enshrined in the sourhern
prakaram. There are also shrines to Shakti Ganapati and Bhuvaneswari here. There is also a
shrine to Aadi Sankara here.Each Friday witnesses the procession of Saradamba in a silver
chariot around the temple. The Navaratri festival season also witnesses processions of the
processional image of Saradamba. Also in this temple are shrines to Shakti Ganapati,
Mahishasuramardini and Rajarajeswari.
Also in Sringeri is the Janardhana
temple, where carved in one of the niches of the sanctum is an image of Aadi
Sankaracharya. Near this temple is the brindavanam of Sureshwaracharya. At
Rishyasringapuram on the banks of the Nandini river, enshrines Sringeswara. Legend has it
that the sage Rishyasringa attained salvation here.
Tippu Sultan of Srirangapatna
is believed to have made gifts to Sringeri for the conduct of the Sahasra Chandi Japa for
the welfare of the country.