By Dr K V Venkataramana
Sringeri Sri Sharadamba temple located amidst the Sahyadri hills.
Karnataka can boast of several pilgrim centres which attract devotees from several states, nay, from different parts of the country. Sringeri is one such where a temple is situated, dedicated to Sri Sharadamba (Sarasvati), the Goddess of Learning and Wisdom, on the banks of the Tunga river. The temple was founded by Sri Adi Shankaracharya during the 8th century as he considered the place holy and serene. What prompted him to erect a temple here was the sight of a frog in labour pains on a stone step leading to the river, which was being protected by a cobra with its unfurled hood to give it shade. The harmonious existence of two traditional adversaries at the same spot is, indeed, a rare phenomenon, indicating the sanctity of the place.
Sri Kappe Shankara – A shrine on the banks of the Tunga river in memory of the unique sight witnessed by Sri Adi Shankaracharya; Pic courtesy: http://www.sringeri.net
A sculpture of a serpent protecting the frog from hot sun is seen on a stone step leading to the river Tunga.
Sri Adi Shankaracharya also established the first of the four Mutts at Sringeri to propagate the Advaita philosophy, Vedic knowledge and the Sanatana Dharma, where a rishi called Rishya Shringa had done a tapas in the hoary past. The name Sringeri is believed to have derived from two words, Rishya Sringa and giri (meaning mountain) where Rishya Sringa had engaged in his tapas.
Hordes of parents with their little kids (between 2 and 5 years) throng the temple on Vijaya Dashami day during Navaratri festival and on some other special days to perform “Aksharabhyasa” ceremony, seeking the blessings of Sri Sharadamba for granting good education to their children.
There are two chariots made of silver and of gold within the premises, that are used on festival days when the deity is taken out for processions.
There are also other shrines dedicated to Thorana Ganapathy and Adi Shankaracharya, beside Sharadamba deity, but outside the sanctum. Sri Balasubrahmanya temple is located on the banks of Tunga river while Shakti Ganapati temple is located on the south-western side of Sri Sharadamba temple.
Devotees also visit the Vidyashankara temple adjacent to the temple, that is completely built of stone, which is known for its unique architecture and sculpture. In the main hall there are twelve pillars, representing the signs of the zodiac, which are sculpted in such a way that sun rays fall on each of these pillars successively, lighting them up, in the order of the solar months. This temple was built in 14th century by Sri Vidyaranya. The temple features Hoysala and Dravida architectural styles.
River Tunga flows close by the temple and you can find a lot of Mahaseer fishes that hug your feet when you step into the waters. Devotees offer puffed rice to them. However, this beautiful sight is missed during rainy season as the water gets muddy.
Distance from Bengaluru: 336 kms.
Distance from Mangaluru: 150 kms
Distance from Mysuru: 264 kms.
Distance from Chikmagaluru: 86 kms.
Pictures (All pics are by Prasad K B unless stated otherwise):
Raja Gopura (Main entrance) leading to Sri Sharadamba Temple, Sringeri.
Sri Sharadamba Temple, Sringeri.
Sri Vidya Shankara Temple, Sringeri.
Sri Balasubrahmanya Temple, Sringeri, on the banks of Tunga river.
Shrine of Sri Torana Ganapati. The idol of Sri Torana Ganapati decorated with Suvarna Kavacha Alankara. Pic courtesy: http://www.sringeri.net
Image of Sri Shakti Ganapati, Sringeri. Pic courtesy: http://www.sringeri.net