Vidyashankara Temple at Sringere is a revered pilgrimage centre located
amidst the picturesque Sahyadri hills in Chikmaglur District of Karnataka on
the left bank of the river Tungabhadra. The temple is held in high esteem by
the people of Karnataka as it is considered to be the home to 'Sarada
Peetham' established by the revered spiritual leader Aadi Sankaracharya in
the 1st millennium CE. Idol of Goddess Sarada in the temple is said to have
been installed by Aadi Sankaracharya himself.
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. Scholars believe that it was in this temple that Adi Sankaracharya established 'Sarada Peetham' in the 1st millennium CE and installed the image of Sarada with a Sri Chakra in front of her. And from then on he started the Bharati Sampradaya to propagate the philosophy of non dualism. Because of the strong association of Adi Shankaracharya from Vidyashankara Temple it is commonly known as the 'Shankaracharya Temple'.
Vidyashankara Temple is built with the combined features of the Hoysala and Dravida architecture. It stands on a richly sculptured basement with six doorways leading into the temple. The twelve pillars in the mandapam are named the Raasi Pillars marking the 12 zodiac signs. These pillars are so arranged that the sun's rays fall on each of them in the order of the solar months.
Each column in the temple also has a large rearing lion with non removable rolling stone balls in its mouth. A circular shikhara crowns the sanctum. This temple walls also features carved scenes from the puranas. Buddha is depicted as one of the incarnations of Vishnu here. The temple presents a majestic view especially when seen from across the river.
Image of Goddess Sarada
The original image of Goddess Sarada as installed by Adi Sankaracharya was made of sandalwood. It was replaced with a golden image in the 14th century. In the golden idol Ma Sarada can be seen seated on the Sri Chakra Peetham holding a Japa Mala with a parrot perched on the top of Her hand.
Besides a shrine to Aadi Sankara in the Vidyashankara Temple there are shrines to Shakti Ganapati, Bhuvaneswari, Mahishasuramardini and Rajarajeswari. The temple also houses ruby images of Venugopala and Srinivasa besides a Nandi made out of a large pearl. Several inscriptions can also be seen in the temple describing contributions made by the Vijayanagar emperors.
Best Time to Visit
Number of devotees in the temple increases each Friday when the procession of Saradamba in a silver chariot can be witnessed around the temple. The biggest surge of devotees can be seen during Navaratri Festival.
There are are several other places of interest for devotees in Sringeri. Sringagiri hills are said to be the birth place of Sage Rishyasringa. Then there is the Janardhana temple housing the image of Aadi Sankaracharya.