The Vidyashankara temple is located in the holy town of Sringeri, in the Chikmagalur district of Karnataka. Apart from its religious significance, the temple is an eye open for architecture enthusiasts as it combines the architectural style of the Hoysala and Dravidian eras.
Sringeri is the site of one of the Advaitha mathas established by Adi Shankara himself. It has a continuing tradition and recorded history from the eighth century. Sri Adi Shankara’s disciple Sureshwarachrya was the first head of this matha.
Vidyashankara Temple In Sringeri – Quick Facts
- Address: Sringeri, Chickmagalur District, Karnataka – 577139
- Contact: +91-8265- 252525 /262626/272727/295555
- Best time to visit: October to March
- Darshan timings: Morning – 7:00 AM to 1:00 PM and Evening – 5:00 PM to 8:30 PM
Vidyashankara Temple – History
The Sringeri Matha’s continued lineage is traceable through various records. Two of the most famous pontiffs of this matha are Vidya Shankara or Vidyathirtha and his disciple Vidyaranya.
Vidyaranya is a legendary figure in the history of Karnataka and also South India. His period saw the beginning of Muslim incursions into the south. Vidyaranya was instrumental in helping the brothers Harihara and Bukka establish the Vijayanagara Empire, which served as a fortress for defending Hindu traditions and temples against the tidal wave of Muslim invaders from the North.
Vidyaranya it is believed influenced the brothers Harihara and Bukka to have a temple constructed over the Samadhi of his Guru, Vidyathirtha. This temple is known as Vidyashankara Temple.
Vidyashankara Temple – Architecture
The Vidyashankara temple was constructed in 1338 AD. Built around the Samadhi of Vidyathirtha, this is a beautiful and interesting temple that bears a slight resemblance to an old Chariot. It combines the general the features of Dravidian style with the Vijayanagara style. Standing on a richly sculpted plinth, this temple has six doorways.
Twelve pillars surround the mandapa with figures of the twelve signs of the zodiac. They are constructed in such an ingenious way that the rays of the sun fall on each pillar in the chronological order of the twelve months of the Hindu calendar. Each column is topped by a Yali with a rolling stone ball in its mouth.
Inside the temple, on the floor, a circle is drawn with lines corresponding to the shadows cast by each pillar. There are five shrines here. The main shrine has a Shiva Linga over the Samadhi of Sri Vidyashankara and it is known as Vidya Shankara Linga. The other shrines are for Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva and Durga. The Garbhagraha is topped by a majestic square vimana.
This temple also houses a broken sandalwood idol of Sharadamba, believed to have been installed in the Sharadamba temple by Adi Shankara Himself. This idol, it is believed, was damaged during the Muslim invasion, and Sri Vidyaranya had the current Gold statue of Sharadamba installed in its place.
The temple stands on the banks of the Tunga river. Fish are often found at the temple steps where they wait for devotees to feed them puffed rice. These fish are considered sacred.
Other Temples Nearby
Sri Sharadamba Temple: This temple is built in the Kerala style of architecture with a tiled roof. It houses a gold idol of Sri Sharada. The temple’s mahamandapam has stone pillars with exquisite carvings of other deities like Durga and Raja Rajeshwari.
Sri Malahanikareshvara Temple: This temple is located on a small hill and has 170 steps leading up to it. The temple is constructed out of stone with the ceiling featuring a carved lotus bud detailing. It houses a number of deities including Durga, Sthambha Ganapati, Bhavani and Malahanikaresvara. It is believed that a sage named Vibhandaka used to worship the Linga in this temple and after many years of penance merged into the Linga.
Sri Parshwanath Swamy Basadi: This Jain temple was built in 1150 AD in memory of Mari Setty. It is 50 feet long and 30 feet wide with a sloping roof and walls cut out of stone. It houses a black stone idol of Sri Parshwanatha Swamy. The idol usually has a hooded cobra over the deity’s head but in this case, the idol has a pair of cobras with seven hoods. For this reason, it is also known as Jodi Parshwanatha Swamy.
How To Reach The Vidyashankara Temple In Sringeri
Sringeri is connected through bus routes to most nearby places in Karnataka.
At a distance of 80km, the Udupi railway station is the closest railway stop to Sringeri. From here, you can take a cab or a bus to visit the temple. The journey will take around 2 hours.
Mangalore is the closest airport to Sringeri. The distance of just over 100 km can be covered by road in 2-3 hours.