The Vidyashankara temple in Sringeri near the Sharada Peetham is one of the highlights of this place. Sringeri is the site of one of the original 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.
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.
Built around the Samadhi of Vidyathirtha, this is a beautiful and interesting temple which bears a slight resemblance to an old Chariot. It combines the general features of Dravidian style with the Vijayanagara style. Standing on a richly sculpted plinth, this temple has six doorways. Twelve pillars surrounding 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.
How to Get to Vidyashankara Temple
Sringeri, a hugely important pilgrimage spot, is connected through bus routes to most places in Karnataka. The city of Mangalore is also nearby, and buses and trains can be taken to Mangalore and you can reach Sringeri from there.