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Vidyashankara Temple - Sringeri
Temples of Karnataka

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.

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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.

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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 solar months.

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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).

The Saradamba 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.