The Sringeri Sharada Peetham or Sringeri Temple is located on the banks of River Tunga in the Chikkamagalur district of Karnataka. It is the first of the four Ammaya Peetham established by Sri Adi Shankaracharya in 8th century AD. The word Ammaya Peetham means “Throne of the Veda”.
Sri Adi Shankaracharya established four Peethams or Centers in the four corners of the country to safeguard and propagate the Vedas. The head of the Mutt is Jagadguru meaning “Teacher of the world”. Although, the sringeri temple was established in the 8th century, the documented history is present only for the period after the 14th century.
The Sringeri Temple Complex is huge and consists of many temples as mentioned below:
Sri Sharadamba Temple – The Temple consists of granite stones. The Mahamandapam has huge stone pillars have carvings of deities like Durga, Raja Rajeshwari, Dwarapalakas and Devis according to the Shilpa Sastras. The door of the temple has Gold covering and is unique because it has 8 panels with figures of Ashtalakshmi inscribed on them.
Sri Torana Ganapati Temple – The unique shrine is a simple silver door with an idol of Ganapati on the top. It is customary for devotees to first have darshan of Torana Ganapati and then proceed to visit Sri Sharadamba.
Sri Vidyashankara Temple – The Temple was built in 1338 AD in the Chalukyan and Dravidian style of architecture. The Garbhagrah is on the west side with Vidya Ganapati and Durga as the main deities. Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva govern the other three sides.
Sri Janardhana Temple – The Temple was built around the 9th century. The Temple is for Lord Vishnu as Janardhana. The idol of Lord Janardhana is flanked on both sides by Sridevi and Bhudevi. The idol is covered with Sandal paste throughout the year.
Sri Adi Shankaracharya Temple – The idol of Sri Adi Shankaracharya is present in a pose of a Yogasana with four disciples and a Shiva Linga in front.
Sri Kodandaramaswami Temple – A small Temple dedicated to Lord Rama, Lakshmana and Sita is present on the right of the Sri Sharadamba Temple.
Besides these Temples, Sri Adi Shankaracharya established four guardian deities in the four directions to protect the town. They are Kalabhairava in the East, Anjaneya in the West, Durga in the South, and Kalikamba in North.
Sringeri Temple History and Legend
Sri Sharadamba is the presiding deity of the town of Sringeri. The original sringeri temple was small with a sandalwood idol of Goddess Sharada installed above a Sri Chakra carved by Adi Shankaracharya. Subsequently, Sri Bharati Krishna Tirtha and Sri Vidyaranya expanded and renovated the temple. Sri Bharati Krishna Tirtha substituted the sandalwood idol with the present golden idol.
Sri Sacchidananda Shivabhinava Narasimha Bharati raised the present structure in granite with polished granite walls around the sanctum and Sri Chandrasekhara Bharati consecrated the new temple in May 1916.
According to the history of the sringeri temple, the 32nd Acharya of the Peetham, Jagadguru Sri Vriddha Narasimha Bharati Mahaswamiji had a vision of the Ganapati when he was contemplating on resolving and issue in the mutt affairs. He offered prayers to the image of Lord Ganapati carved on the Torana of the door nearby. The problem was resolved immediately. Since then, the Ganapati has come to be worshiped as Torana Ganapati.
It is believed that during the Muslim invasion under Malik Kafur, the original idol made of sandalwood was destroyed. During the Vijayanagara period, a gold statue of Sharadamba in a seated posture was installed here.
In the 14th century, royal patronage was given by the Vijayanagara empire. The King granted the Peetham the rights over the secular administration of the land.
The legend of Mandanmisra
As per the story, a noted scholar named Mandanmisra was famous for his debating skills and no one could win the debate with him. Seeing this, Goddess Saraswati descended on Earth as Upaya Bharathi and organized a debate between Shankaracharya and Mandanmisra.
The condition was that if Shankaracharya loses the debate, he would marry and have a family and if Mandanmisra loses, he will take up Asceticism. Upaya Bharathi handed each of them a garland and said that whichever garland dries up first, that person will lose the debate.
The debate lasted for 17 days and eventually Mandanmisra ‘s garland dried first and he lost the debate. Upaya Bharathi challenged Shankaracharya on a debate on marital life. After a time gap of one month, Shankaracharya won the debate. He begged Upaya Bharathi to follow him to a place he goes to frequently. She obliged on the condition that he will not turn back and look at her otherwise she will stop.
Mandanmisra was now a disciple of Shankaracharya and him along with Upaya Bharathi started the journey following him. On reaching the village of Sringeri, he was surprised by an unusual sight on the banks of River Tunga. A cobra was spreading out its hood over a frog in labor pains, to give it a shadow from the scorching mid-day sun. The sound of the anklets stopped and he turned back to look. Shankaracharya immediately installed the Sri Chakra on a rock there and installed Devi with the name Sharada.
The Goddess appeared before him and said that this would be known as the Sharada Peetham and that she would stay at the Peetam to grace the devotees. Mandanamisra, now Sureshwara became the first pontiff of Sringeri Sharada Peetam.
Significance of the Sringeri Temple
Sringeri Sharada Peetham is the southern Advaita Vedanta Matt founded by the Sri Adi Shankaracharya in 8th century AD. He had previously established three Matts – Jyotirmath in the North, Puri in the East and Dwarka in the West. Sri Adi Shankaracharya installed the idol of Goddess Sharadamba on the banks of the Tunga river.
It is believed that Lord Shiva gifted the crystal Chandramouleeshwara Linga to Sri Adi Shankaracharya. The Linga can still be visited and the Chandramouleeshwara Pooja is performed for the Linga every night at 8:30 PM.
It is believed that Goddess Sharadambika is the incarnation of Goddess Saraswati, who came to Earth as Upaya Bharathi. It is a common faith that by worshiping her, one can receive blessings of Brahma, Shiva, and Vishnu along with Durga, Lakshmi, and Saraswati.
In the eastern half of the structure of Sri Vidyashankara Temple, a mandap with twelve pillars can be seen. Each of them is adorned with twelve signs of the Zodiac in order. These pillars are arranged in such a way that the rays of the sun fall on each of them in order of the 12 solar months.
A large Sudarshana Chakra can be seen in the Janardhana Temple in the complex. It is believed that offering prayers to the Chakra can ward off the feelings of enmity towards other human beings. It is also believed to protect devotees from all evil and harm.
The ritual of Aksharabhyasa performed here is considered to be sacred and fulfilling. The parents of kids in the age of 2-5 are given a slate and chalk or alternatively, a plate of rice on which they pray to Goddess Saraswati and the Guru to impart good knowledge and education to their children.
Just adjoining the Sringeri Temple, there is a famous monastery known as Sringeri Mutt which was established by Adi Shankaracharya in 8th century.
The gurus of the mutt follow Advaita Vedanta philosophy. The gurus believe that the Brahman is the ultimate cosmic spirit and all the gods described in scriptures are just manifestations of Brahman. They believe in the innermost self of the human being – Aham Brahma Asmi, which means “I am the Universal spirit”.
The gurus at the mutt teach that an individual must imbibe the good habits of the guru in addition to revering and listening to the guru’s teachings.
The mutt has produced so many scholars. The swamis of this matha consider themselves as the descendants of Sri Adi Shankaracharya.
The mutt runs a few colleges and a hospital. It also maintains some temples and Vedic schools across India. The Sringeri Temple is maintained by the mutt. The mutt also strives hard to preserve the natural beauty of Sringeri.
Sringeri Temple Timings
Sringeri temple opens at 6 am and closes at 9:15 pm.
However there is a mid-afternoon break in Sringeri Temple from 2 pm to 4 pm.
Sri Vidyashankara Temple and Sri Torana Ganapati Temple – The Temples open at 7 AM and close at 8:30 PM with mid-afternoon break between 1 PM to 5 PM.
Sri Malahaneekareswara Temple – The Temple remains open from 8 AM to 8 PM with Mid-afternoon break between 12 PM to 5 PM.
All the other Temples inside the Sharada Matha Complex open at 8:30 AM and close at 7 PM with mid-afternoon break between 12 PM to 5 PM.
Darshan of Sri Jagadguru can be done at 10:30 AM in the morning and 5:30 PM in the evening. The darshan timings can are subjected to change according to the schedule of Sri Jagadguru’s activities during the day.
It is advised to wear decent cotton clothes during summers (March to Mid-June). The rains start from June onwards when it is recommended to wear full sleeves and jackets. Blankets and Bedsheets must be carried in winters as it gets quite cold here in winters. It is recommended to carry Umbrellas and Torches as the power availability is interrupted frequently.
Festivals at Sringeri Temple
The Full Moon day in the month of Ashadha in Hindu calendar is named as Guru Purnima. The holy day is dedicated to Guru or the Teacher. On this day, Poojas are offered to the Brahma Vidyacharyas – who have passed down Brahman knowledge to continuous successive generations of Acharya. The Vyasa Pooja is also performed on this day as the Sage Ved Vyasa is considered to be a person with the highest level of intellect. He coded the Vedas into four divisions and composed the Brahmasutras.
Traditionally, the Chaturmasya Vrata is observed for a period of two months, usually from July – August. The Sannyasins observe the Vrata and stay at one place to disperse spiritual knowledge to their disciples. During the Vrata period, the Jagadguru observes the following Vratas – Shravana Somvara Vrata, Vara Mahalakshmi Vrata, Gokulashtami Vrata, Vamana Jayanti, Ananta Padmanabha Vrata and Uma Maheshwar Vrata.
The Navaratri Utsav is celebrated with great fervor and zest in The Sringeri Temple complex. The festival is celebrated in a unique way which is a must see in anyone’s lifetime. On the day before Navaratri, a Maha Abhishekam will be performed for Goddess Sharadamba. The Rudrabhishekam and 108 Abhishekam will be followed by an offering of several Alankaras to the Goddess. They are Jagatprasutika Alankaram ( the day before Navaratri), Brahmi, Maheshwari, Koumari, Vaishnavi, Indrani, Veena Sharada, Mohini, Rajarajeshwari, Chamunda, and Gajalakshmi. Several Parayanas (Readings) are also performed such as of the Vedas and the Gita. Cultural music programs are also held at the Sringeri Temple Complex.
This festival is celebrated for seven days at the Sringeri Temple during the Kartik Shukla Paksha (November). Several Poojas and Aradhanas are performed on the special days of Shashti, Saptami and Ashtami of the month.
Besides the above main festivals mentioned, other festivals celebrated on a grand scale at the Sringeri Temple are Makara Sankranthi, Maha Shivaratri, Ugadi, Ram Navami, Narasimha Jayanti, Janmashtami, Vinayaka Chaturthi, Jagadguru Jayanti, Deepavali, and Kartik Somavara Pooja.
Sringeri Temple Seva List
Chandramouleeshwara Pooja – The Trikala Nitya Pooja of the holy Linga of Sri Chandramouleeshwara and of Sri Chakra takes place every night at the Sringeri Temple.
Sri Adi Shankaracharya Ashtottara Shatanamavali – This is the list of 108 names of Sri Adi Shankaracharya that has been passed down by the previous generations. This Stotra is recited daily at the Sringeri Math in the temple dedicated to Sri Adi Shankaracharya as part of daily Pooja.
Gita Gyana Yagna – The Gita Gyana Yagna scheme has been started by the Sri Sharada Peetham in which any individual who can recite the 700 Shlokas mentioned in the Gita will be rewarded with Rupees 21,000 and a certificate. The attempt can also be split into 3 days.
Ashtottara Seva – The devotees can perform the Ashtottara ceremony in all the Temples of the complex to their respective presiding deities. Ashtottara means reciting of the 108 names of Gods such as Ganesha, Vishnu, Durga, and Shiva.
Other important poojas are:
Dindi Deeparadana (Suvasini Pooja) – Devotees can perform this pooja at the Sringeri Temple. The Suvasini Pooja is done by worshiping a married woman as a representation of Goddess Durga. The woman is offered meals, fruits, clothes, and Dakshina.
Udayastamana Pooja – This is a unique type of Pooja performed for one full day, starting from dawn till dusk. There is a total of 18 Poojas for the devotees throughout the day.
Rudrabhishekam – This Pooja is performed to please Lord Shiva and to get his blessings. The Pooja is relieves one of his or her sins and bring prosperity to the family. The Pooja can take place at the Sri Shankaracharya Temple, Sri Vidyashankara Temple and Sri Balasubramanya Temple.
Panchamrutha Abhishekam – It is a ritual in which the idols of the God bathe in five items (Panch amrit)- Milk, Curd, Honey, Sugar, and Ghee. The ritual can take place at all the Temples in the complex including the Sringeri Temple.
Sringeri Temple Aksharabhyasam
The couples with children of age 2.5 – 5 years can perform the Seva as a start to the education of their children at the Sringeri Temple. The timings are from 8 am to 1 pm and the cost is Rs.250. The performing of this ritual is special because the presiding deity Sri Sharadamba is Goddess of intelligence and knowledge.
How to reach Sringeri Temple: Road, Rail and Air
By Air – The Mangalore airport is the nearest airport to Sringeri Temple from where regular buses are available.
By Train – Shimoga and Kadur are the nearest railway stations. One can take a bus or a private taxi to reach the temple town from there.
By Road – The Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) buses are available from all major towns and cities in Karnataka like Bengaluru, Mangalore, Udupi, Mysore, Shimoga, and Dharmasthala.
Bangalore to Sringeri: How to Reach
By Air – Fly from Bangalore International Airport to the Bajpe International Airport at Mangalore. There are regular buses available from Mangalore.
By Train – Take a train from Bangalore to Mangalore or Shimoga. One can take a bus or a private taxi to reach the temple town from there.
By Road – The Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) operates regular buses from Bangalore Bus Station.
Sringeri Temple Hotels: Where to stay
The devotees can stay comfortably in any one of the seven Guest Houses constructed by the Sri Sharada Peetham. Normal rooms and dormitories are available for use at nominal rates. First come, first serve basis is there for the booking of the rooms. For booking of rooms, pilgrims need to contact the Information office located near the Temple main entrance.
A large number of small guest houses and hotels are available for private accommodation.
Where to eat near Sringeri Temple
Under the leadership of Sri Sharada Peetham, a dining hall by the name of “Sri Bharathi Theertha Prasada” is near the Sharada Temple. Food is served to all devotees in the afternoon between 12:15 PM to 2:30 PM and at night between 7:15 PM to 8:30 PM.
A few private restaurants are available near the Temple Complex. The cuisine offered is mainly South Indian.
Sri Malahanikareshwara Temple
The Temple is on top of a hillock. The devotees have to climb 156 steps reach the Temple. The Temple is for the Linga of Malahanikeshwara who is the destroyer of impurities in the soul of a person.
The Rishyasringa Temple at Kigga
The town of Kigga is 9 km away from Sringeri. The presiding deity of the significant temple is Rishyasringa and his wife Santa. According to beliefshe caused rainfall in the drought-stricken kingdom of Romapada. King Dasaratha (Lord Rama’s father) invited Rishyasringa to be the presiding priest at the sacrifice he conducted to obtain sons. The Shiva Linga in the Temple has horns. The ancient Vashishtha Ashram is also situated in the town.
The place is famous for its two temples – The Mahalingeshwara Temple and the Anegudde Vinayaka Temple. The place is also famous as Kumbhashi as this is the place where Kumbhasura died. It is one of the seven places in a collective region “Parashurama Srishti”, the creation of Saint Parashurama.
The Temple dedicated to Goddess Annapoorneshwari is located in the beautiful town called Horanadu. Everybody who visits this shrine is provided with food and is offered a place to sleep or rest. The idol depicts the Goddess Annapoorneshwari standing on a pedestal with Shanku, Chakra, Sri Chakra and Devi Gayathri in her four hands.
The town is home to the Kalasheshwara Temple. Bhadra River surrounds the temple on 3 sides. The Temple is for Lord Shiva. According to legends, Sage Agasthya made Kalasa as his home but wanted to witness the wedding of Shiva and Parvathi. Lord Shiva obliged and gave a boon to Agasthya using which he was able to watch the wedding from Kalasa.
Kollur Mookambika Temple
The famous and revered Sri Mookambikai Temple is located in Kollur. The presiding deity is Goddess Mookambikai also famous as Devi and in front of her idol, is a Jyotirlinga of Lord Shiva. The unique feature of the Linga is that it consists two unequal parts – The Smaller right part represents Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva and the larger Left part represents Durga, Lakshmi, and Saraswati.