On our trip to Koppa, where we stayed at the charming homestay, Ammadi, one of the places we visited was Sringeri. Sringeri is small town located in the western ghats in Chikkamagalur district. The beautiful ghats and the river Tunga make this town quite idyllic. We visited the very famous Sharada temple here. After we parked the car, and as we waked to the temple, we passed many little street shops and hawkers. One of the things sold is the puffed rice to feed the fish in the river Tunga; the temple complex stands on the banks of Tunga.
As you enter the complex, the structure that takes away all your attention is the very beautiful Vidyashankara temple built in stone. Very intricately designed niches and sculptures adorn the exterior temple wall and is said to be a combination of the Hoysala and Vijayanagara architectural features.
Husband and daughter walking towards the temple
The main temple hall features 12 pillars designated for the 12 signs of the zodiac and placed in such a way that the first rays of the rising sun fall on specific pillars with the zodiacal symbol corresponding to the position of the Sun. I would have loved to see how this works, but we learnt of this only when we were there, and we were there during mid-day. Also apparently, the windows and doors along the temple walls have been designed such that the rays of the equinoxes sunrise touch the deity. The northern and southern gates enable the sunrise view from the hall during solstices. I am guessing those are also the days when the temple will have its maximum visitors.
The architectural beauty offers nice setting for many photo enthusiasts. Seen below is a girl posing against a beautiful doorway.
Though it is the Vidyashankara temple that took away most of our attention in the first go, we learnt that it is the temple that is next to this one that is the main Sharada temple, dedicated to the Goddess of learning and wisdom. This was a simple shrine during the time of Adi Shankaracharya. The original sandal wood idol was replaced with a gold idol in the 14th century. The temple itself was a wooden structure till a fire damaged most of it in the 20th century. Now, in its place, stands the more modern structure.
The environs are beautiful and peaceful. Along one of the peripheries are steps that lead to the river Tunga. We visited right around the time that monsoon was ending. It was still raining that day and the river itself was gushing in full flow and muddy. It was rich brown in color and the fish that apparently you see very clearly, were not seen that day. People were dipping in the river for their holy baths and many of us, threw the puffed rice into the muddy waters for the fish.
The Sringeri Sharada Peetham is one of the four Hindu Advaita maths established by Sri Adi Shankaracharya. It is right across from the temple on the other bank of the river. See below. The Sri Vidya Teertha Setu is the bridge that connects the matha to the temple complex.
The temple complex as seen from across the river.
My son jogs on the bridge when we return back to the temple complex.
As we leave, it is still drizzling, making the whole surrounds a typical malnad setting in the beautiful western ghats. The main attraction to the kids, of course, were the temple elephants. Here’s a little one with its mahout.
One last look at this beautiful stone marvel that has stood watching the river flow by, for centuries together.
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