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Posts Tagged ‘Virupaksha Temple’

Sringeri – the confluence of religion and beauty

Posted by Admin on June 20, 2012

Sringeri is a temple town nestled in Chickmagalur district of Karnataka.

By Lakshmi Sharath | Yahoo Lifestyle Entertainment – 17 hours ago

My earliest memory of Sringeri goes back to my childhood, when I was probably five years old. It starts with an old black-and-white photograph, with me in ponytails standing next to my grandparents, against the backdrop of the temples at Sringeri Mutt. It was probably around the same time, I had heard about the story of Sringeri, narrated by my mother and she never tires of telling me the story again and again even today.

More than twelve centuries ago, Hindu seer and exponent of Advaita philosophy, Ādi Śaṅkarācārya had come to Sringeri. He saw an unusual sight on the banks of the Tunga that made him realize that this place was sacred. A cobra was seen spreading out its hood over a pregnant frog protecting it from the scorching sun. He was struck by the sanctity of the area which could bring two enemies together and infuse love between them. The acharya went on to establish his very first Mutt here and dedicated it to Goddess Saraswati. He had invoked the deity and had consecrated an idol of her, which was initially made of sandalwood. He later established the guru-shishya tradition that follows till date, as pilgrims visit the town to seek the blessings of the current Shankaracharya, Jagadguru Bharati Tirtha Swamigal.


As a child, I had made several trips to Sringeri and slowly the word ‘spiritual’ seemed to become synonymous with the place. The journey was long and arduous then. We used to drive down to Bangalore from Chennai and then take the long route via Tumkur and Arsikere to reach Hassan and then Chikmagalur. The winding roads of Malenadu painted a carpet of green coffee estates as we continued our journey to Sringeri from the hills. Sometimes, we used to take the picturesque Agumbe route, just to take in the views of the forests and sunsets. And every time, I used to lose myself in the journey.

Even today, I am lost as I drive through Malenadu, drenched in monsoons. Sringeri brings to the mind images of the long roads snaking across the green mountains, the heavy rains and squalls, the richly carved temples, the fish swimming in the serene Tunga, the rhythmic chanting from the various rituals and the bisi bisi saaru (rasam) on a rainy day.

My first stop in Sringeri is always at the banks of the River Tunga. Sitting on the steps and watching the fish nibble at the feet of people who are performing their evening rituals, I take in the scene. The sun lights the scales as they whisk their fins in and out of water. The forests border the banks of the river, while two temple elephants cross over to the other bank on the bridge.

The temples are not crowded. I stop by at the Sharadamba temple adorned with massive sculptures. It was reconstructed in the South Indian Dravidian style, after the earlier wooden temple had given way. After visiting several smaller temple complexes dedicated to various deities like Malayala Brahma,Torana Ganapathi, Kodandarama, Janardhana, Subramanya and other guardian gods and goddesses,  I enter my favourite shrine – the Vidyashankara Temple, standing tall at the entrance to the river, Tunga.

Standing in awe and gazing at every sculpture on the outer walls, I watch the sun shine on them. The twelve zodiac signs are carved on the pillars and it is indeed an architectural marvel in stone, a fusion between Hoysala, Vijayanagara and Chalukya styles in the 14th century. Dedicated to deities, Vidya Ganapati, Vidyashankara, Durga and the Trimurtis , it was built by pontiff Bharati Krishna Tirtha Acharya, as a tribute to his Guru, the 10th Acharya, Vidyatirtha. Another temple is said to be buried beneath this temple and there is a story around it.

Vidyatirtha was the reigning acharya in the 13th century when two brothers from Ekasilanagaram or today’s Warangal came to meet him. Vidyatirtha wanted to meditate and he explained to one of the brothers Bharati Krishna Tirtha not to disturb him for twelve years.

An underground chamber was excavated near the bank of the river  where the seer meditated and instructed that the door remained closed  for twelve years .After three years, when the pontiff  was away, the attendants out of curiosity opened the chamber only to see that the body was replaced by a linga.

Bharati Krishna Tirtha then received a divine message from his Guru to build the Vidyashankara Temple near the river. He later became the next Jagadguru and was followed by his brother, Vidyaranya, the founder of the Vijayanagara Empire and the Guru to the brothers, Harihara (Hakka) and Bukka.

The connection between Hampi and Sringeri is something I learnt afresh here. It is believed that the seer Sri Vidyaranya was meditating on Matanga Hill in modern day Hampi, when he met two brothers, Harihara and Bukka. Under his guidance, the brothers built a new capital, Vidyanagara and designed it in the form of a chakra with the Virupaksha Temple in the centre and nine gates surrounding it. The town soon became known as Vijaynagara or victory as the brothers established a new dynasty by defeating Delhi Sultans and the various rebelling feudatories.

It was already night fall as the stars came out and the moonlight drenched the waters of the Tunga. Hordes of devotees were crossing the bridge to reach the other side of the bank in time for the night puja of the Chandramouleshwara Temple, performed by the Shankaracharya. It is a surreal like experience as one crosses the Tunga on a star lit night and walks across rich vegetation in silence , listening to the crickets ,enters the portals of the shrine as the invigorating chants fill the air and vibrates across the river. It is at the moment, I truly grasp the meaning of spiritual.

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Magical Hampi – Blissfully lost in a time-warp

Posted by Admin on May 24, 2012

Magical Hampi – Blissfully lost in a time-warp

Hampi, the medieval capital of the Vijayanagara Empire (14th to 16th century AD), is now listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its boulder-strewn hills, stunning jewel-box temples and the Tungabhadra River that runs among them make Hampi spectacular. Stories abound in every nook and corner, making this land of ancient legends a photographer’s playbook. The little town attracts tourists in droves, and the fact that almost everything is in ruins doesn’t seem to matter at all; in fact, it only adds to Hampi’s charisma. Strolling through the ancient markets and temples can throw you in a time-warp, says photographer, traveler and wildlife enthusiast RADHA RANGARAJAN as she shares these telling images that tempt you to clamber onto the roof of a bus and head to Hampi.

Photographer, traveler and wildlife enthusiast RADHA RANGARAJAN loves to wander, camera in tow. An aesthete, her forte is creative and offbeat compositions. Radha has presented her images in many forums and publications. Faces intrigue her and she loves to tell stories through her photographs. Birds, butterflies, leaves and shafts of light fuel her imagination. Besides nature and wildlife photography, she enjoys traveling and making images of people and places. Enjoy more of her work at her blog.


The Virupaksha temple is one of the most recognized structures in Hampi. Located at the Hampi Bazaar, it has an iconic 160-foot tall ‘gopuram’ or tower at its entrance. This temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. Though the city was destroyed in 1565, worship in the temple has persisted over the centuries.


Hampi attracts a wide variety of people – backpackers, pilgrims, tourists, history enthusiasts, photographers… The locals add to this wonderful mix and what you get is a very intriguing array of faces. Sit on a step by the Hampi Bazaar or walk around the temples for some absorbing people-watching.


An Indian Nightjar sits pretty by the side of the road. Hampi’s birdlife is very rich. Hoopoes, Sirkeer Malkohas, Indian Eagle Owls, Yellow Wattled Lapwings and Painted Spurfowls are some of the species one can sight in and around the town.


A threatened species like the Yellow Throated Bulbul or our friendly neighborhood Green Bee Eater, they are all around. Matanga Hill is probably the best place to sight the very shy Yellow Throated Bulbuls. Watch out for groups of them flying from tree to tree, twittering all along.


On an evening at Hampi, turn left into the narrow lane at the entrance of the Virupaksha temple. A short walk up Hemakuta hill sets you up to witness a memorable sunset.


One of the best sunset spots in Hampi, Hemakuta Hill attracts a lot of people in the evening. Get there early, choose a good vantage point and settle down for an evening you won’t forget for a long time.


The early bird gets the best sunrise! A steep climb up the Matanga Hill before the break of dawn can give you one of the best sunrise experiences of your life. With a rocky landscape on one side with a view of the Achyuta Raya temple and the river on the other side, the rising sun has a beautiful canvas to paint. It is advisable to take an experienced guide along if you want to walk up the hill before dawn.


While the sun rises, the early morning mist fights a losing battle and eases away, revealing a breathtaking view of the hills on the far right of the Matanga hill. Green fields at the banks of the Tungabhadra River and a lone ‘mantapa’ on a rock complete this view.


The ruins of the Achyuta Raya temple look so serene and beautiful that one can only wonder how grand the temple must have looked 500 years ago. It rests at the foot of the Matanga hill. This is the pillared ‘Mahamantapa’ and two of the three ‘Mahadwaras’ in the temple complex.


A ‘Kalyana Mantapa’ – a marriage hall for the annual wedding ceremony of God and Goddess – is at the northwest corner of the Achyuta Raya temple. Beautiful stone carvings adorn stunning, tall pillars in the Mantapa. When light seeps through the hall, it is a sight to behold.



A market street, or what is also known as the courtesan’s street, leads to the Achyuta Raya temple. The ruins add to the serenity of the place. Also, the street and the temple are hidden snug behind Matanga hill and attract fewer tourists than the rest of the temples.


Intricate stone carvings of mythical wars, pillars that create music when tapped, massive monolithic pillars and a huge temple yard – the Vijaya Vittala temple is an architectural extravaganza.


Need souvenirs and gifts to remember Hampi? Wander around Hampi Bazaar and you are sure to find trinkets like these, mostly made by local artisans.


Thanks to the iconic stone chariot the Vijaya Vittala temple is the most popular spot in Hampi. This chariot is the emblem of Karnataka Tourism. From the marks on the platform, where the wheels rest, it appears that the wheels were once free to move around the axis. It has and probably will always be the flag-bearer of Hampi’s relics.

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