Sringeri is a picturesque town in the heart of the Malnad with rich vegetation and pleasant climate. This temple town attracts pilgrims from all over India and abroad as well. It is located at the foot of the Sahyadris (Western ghats). The green forests and the sacred river Tunga have made this town a lovely abode of nature. Sringeri is situated on the left bank of the holy river Tunga. The water of this river is sweet and pure and by all counts. Tunga paana, Ganga Snaana ( taste the Tunga and bathe in the Ganges).
The region of Sringeri was once ruled by the Hoysala emperors. the Hoysala rule came to an end when Mallik Kafur entered South India with his regiments in 1311 A.D. The invaders in their zeal to spread their religion, made assaults on the Hindus and broke their idols of worship and their temples. It is said that the Sringeri Mutt and Sharada temple suffered mutilation at the time of the invasion. Sringeri till then was only a spiritual centre. It became a beehive of political activities which culminated in the establishment of the great Vijayanagar empire.
There are many shrines and temples in and around Sringeri. Adi Guru Sankaracharya constructed four temples for four deities as the protector of the Sree Sharada Peetha at Sringeri. They are Kalabhairava temple to the east, Durga Temple to the south, Anjaneya temple to the west and Kali temple to the north.
Sankaracharya established the Advaita Mutt and the temple of Sree Sharada. The Sharada temple has been rejuvenated from time to time.
Sree Sharada Devi Sree Abhinava Vidyatheertha Mahaswamiji built a grand gopuram to this great temple. Every year during Navarathri (dussera) a grand festival is celebrated. The goddess is taken out in procession through the streets of the town. Thousands flock to the temple to witness this ten-day festival.
Sree Malahanikareshwara temple, situated on the top of the Mallappa hill, in the heart of the town, is very old. This temple is built in the dravidian style. On the left is the Bhavanidevi temple, which is believed to be built by Sreemad Chidanand Swamiji.
Sree Vidyashankar temple is the cynosure of Sringeri. It fascinates all types of visitors and devotees. It possesses architectural beauty and grandeur. The samadhi of Sree Vidyatheertha Swamiji is also here. Viewed from a distance it looks as though it is a attractive chariot. On the walls are carved innumerable statues. On the pinnacle of its lofty tower is the gold cupola. Inside this temple are the twelve sculptured pillars with the signs of zodiac from Aries to Pisces. As the sun move from one zone to another, its rays fall on the respective pillars. These pillars are placed strictly in accordance of the principles of astronomy. Lord Shanideva housed in this temple is offered with special pujas.
Shree Sankaracharya temple, the Janardhana temple and the Harihareshwara temple are also beautiful. Sringeri overflows with life and brisk activities. Everyday one can find a celebration of some kind. Celebrations on a grand scale takes place on days like, Sankara Jayanthi, Ganesha Chathurti, Shiva Rathri etc. The Rathotsavas of Sharadadevi, Vidyashankar and Malahanikareshwara present a grand spectacle of religious gatherings. The Jagadguru of the Peetha offers worship to Lord Chandramouleshwara everyday. The silver Rathotsava of Sri Sharadadevi is celebrated on all Fridays.
Sree Vidya Theertha was the Swamiji of Sringeri at the time of the founding of the Vijayanagar Empire. Bharathi Theertha and Vidyaranya were the ardent disciples of Sree Vidya Theertha. Hukka and Bukka, who founded the Vijayanagar kingdom, were the devotees of the Sringeri Mutt. Thus, Sringeri participated in the glorious adventure of founding an Empire whose prime objective was to protect and foster the Hindu culture and religion from the onslaughts of the invaders.
Sringeri prospered as a great center of learning. Temples and Mutts were built and students flocked to this place to learn the vedic philosophy.
After the fall of the Vijayanara Empire, the Nayakas of Ikkeri continued to protect the interests of Sringeri. Venkatappa Nayaka rendered his services in helping the mutt to carry on its noble task of perpetuation of spiritual creed. Sringeri flourished as a principal center of education and as the propagator of Hindu religion and philosophy.
The reign of Veerbhadra Nayak witnessed political tumult. The rulers of Ikkeri came in conflict with the rulers of Kalasa. The prince of Kalasa seized Sringeri.
Sree Sachchidananda Bharathi, the then Jagadguru of the Peetha gave shelter to the people affected by the seize and protected the Mutt. The turmoil ended soon when the Ikkeri army rushed to Sringeri and fought a decisive battle and defeated Bhairava.
Hyder Ali annexed Ikkeri to the kingdom of Mysore. Tipu Sultan extended financial and material aids to Sringeri for the reconstruction of the temples. Tipu revered the Jagadguru and sought his blessings. Eventually Sringeri came under the rule of the Wodeyars.
The Wodeyars of Mysore were the staunch devotees of the Sringeri Mutt. Thus, the Mutt of Sringeri maintained its integrity and carried on its objective of the propagation of faith. It strove hard to protect its interests whenever there was a political upheaval and turmoil.
Sringeri has all along been a great center of education, a platform of intellectual activities and strong moral force. People all over India revere it as a Peetha of moral and intellectual and philosophical excellence. It has ushered in a new era by engaging itself in the nation building activities.
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