Sringeri – the spiritual world beckons ..

What is spiritual ? A beautiful serene moment, a togetherness with the divine, a blissful solitude , a positive vibration that cannot be felt anywhere else, a belief that goes deep within you that this is it, a complete abandon of all things material , including your ego, your anger, your hatred and even your identity … Or is it something surreal, an inexplicable abstract feeling, when the body and mind is lost even though the senses are awakened..It is a word that means many things to many people and yet, cannot be fathomed.

If I were to ever recollect my spiritual experience -just one word comes to my mind. Sringeri. I have been there many times , first as a young child, when we learn to experience emotions but cannot explain, and later on now, when we still grapple with words to express our experience.

As a child, we used to go to Sringeri several times in a year.I remember the long curvy roads, the green and brown mountains, the heavy rains and the squalls, the the beautifully carved temples, the rhythmic chanting, the various rituals. I loved the Tunga river, the huge fish there, feeding them chaffed rice and then running across the river in a bridge to the other side to offer our prayers and obeisance to the Shankaracharaya .

I have never been the overtly religious or the ritualistic kind. And as we grow up, day to day life took over and our visits reduced . After a gap of almost three years , I finally made this trip .

The first thing that beckoned me was the River Tunga . A flight of steps leads you down to the river where the fish swim peacefully as the evening sun gracefully lit the waters.Some people were immersed in their evening rituals, while a few others were simply enjoying the sun set .

However I was quite shocked to see that this had become a tourist destination of sorts what with people screaming and even washing clothes.A few kids like me were feeding chaffed rice, but unfortunately their parents were not like mine who had told me not to pollute the river as its sacred. So pieces of paper, along with plastic were floating in the serene waters. I paused a moment recollecting my childhood and remember my mother telling me the story of Sringeri .

This is where Adi Shankaracharya set up his first Peetam or Mutt to teach and establish his Advaitha Doctrine . More than twelve centuries ago,he had come to Sringeri in search of a location . 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 chose this very location to establish His first Mutt .The first Guru of the Peetam was Sureshwaracharya and this led to a tradition of having spiritual masters or Acharyas who represent Adi Sankaracharya and his doctrines. The present Acharya, Sri Bharati Tirtha Swamigal is the 36th in the line of Guru Parampara and is a renowned scholar

There are several temples in the mutt including the Sharadambal temple, which is that of the presiding deity . Adi Shankaracharya had invoked the Goddess of Knowledge , Sharada , consecrated an idol of her and even named the Peetam after her. It is said that the idol was initially made of sandalwood and “installed over the Chakra that Sri Adi Shankara carved on a rock.” Later on many Acharyas embellished the temple and it became what it is today. Sculptures adorn the walls of the temple as each pillar invokes the spirit of the deity .

The Vidyashankar temple built in the 14th century is one of my personal favourites and I will dedicate a separate post for it . The other shrines include several deities like Kodandarama, Malayala Brahma, Thoranam Ganapathi,Stambha Ganapathi Janardhana Swamy,Balasubramanya, Chandramouleeswara Linga and each has its own story.

One of the most divine experiences is to watch the puja in the night where the Acharya worships the Chandramouleeswara Linga. 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..and then I realize that this is not just another pilgrimage . It is what one calls spiritual in the true sense of the word .It is something that needs to be imbibed and internalized.


  1. Anu 20 May, 2008 at 22:00 Reply

    I had to say Thank you!.. . the part about the cobra and frog.. I had never heard that before and now it seems ever more spiritual I always wanted to visit Sringeri and reading your post makes me want to be there more

  2. Sujata 21 May, 2008 at 02:39 Reply

    Lakshmi, this post of your touched me on so many different levels: made me think of my own spirituality; sensual experience of looking at so much beauty; miss India; and be upset about the future of Sirngeri! What a beautiful/thoughtful post.

  3. Aaarti 21 May, 2008 at 13:37 Reply

    hey lakshmi

    lovely post.. simple yet lucid write up… almost transported me to the place i’ve not visited in over 2yrs…

    Did you know that the Vidyashankar temple is a heritage site?it is protected by Government.. that is a one temple that always leaves me in awe.. the architecture and the way its been constructed.. been to the temples hidden within? fun that was… ­čÖé

  4. Indrani 21 May, 2008 at 13:40 Reply

    Very touching… nice post on spirituality.
    I don’t know when I will visit these places, so near yet so far.

    Liked the shot of the reflection.

  5. Rulz Bender 21 May, 2008 at 15:27 Reply

    My teacher use to go there every year. I was following up on your post through blkberry however commenting was not easy to do…!

    Loved your narration and images….!

    tk care ~

  6. Vasanth 21 May, 2008 at 18:39 Reply

    By reading Sringeri i feel today almost all great religious places are getting modernised and spirituality is getting vanished.
    great blog

  7. nobelprizeoftheblogs 21 May, 2008 at 18:39 Reply

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  8. backpakker 21 May, 2008 at 19:04 Reply

    Mark – Thanks..its more nostalgic than sadness

    Anu – The post is heart felt in a sense that I said what I felt and I really think you would get the essence of the place if you go there

    Sujata – Thanks..this is one of the best comments that I received till date..I felt it too in many levels when I wrote this post

    Wendy – Welcome to backpakker and I am glad you dropped in..would be great to see you more often

    Aaarti – Thanks..yes, I know about the Vidyashankar temple..been to the hidden temple many years ago, but not recently..its goes back to the era when the vijaynagar empire was founded..the style is a fusion of hoysala and dravidian deserves a special post

    Indrani – Do visit it when you have the time..

    BTR – Im glad you are safe and you are here ..thanks

    Vasanth – Welcome to backpakker and thanks for your comment..I think thats the problem with indian pilgrims..they dont realize that they are spoiling the very essence of a religious place-the spiritual element

    NPB – Welcome to backpakker and thank you for the honour


  9. DeeDee 21 May, 2008 at 19:49 Reply

    Lakshmi…We live in such different worlds..I enjoy seeing where you travel and listening to your customs…your search for spiritual enlightenment is so different than my Christian beliefs…I do wish you God’s blessings on your journey…Dee Dee

  10. indicaspecies 21 May, 2008 at 20:36 Reply

    You surely sound pretty touched with your visit there.

    I’ve been to Shringeri once and that day it was raining cats and dogs, so could not see or enjoy much. After reading this post, I am ready to make another trip. Thank you.

    Did you have a chance to meet Sri Bharati Tirtha Swamigal?

  11. backpakker 21 May, 2008 at 22:43 Reply

    DeeDee-The end is the same though the means are different..yes, we do live in different worlds and our beliefs are different..but our destination I think is the same

    Celine – Sringeri means a lot to me than just a pilgrimage..yes, I have met the Acharya many times..


  12. mitr_bayarea 21 May, 2008 at 22:48 Reply


    Great post with awesome pics. I’ve been to Sringeri with my parents all along my school years and college years. Every college year would begin with a visit to the Mattam and all other good beginnings etc. The last time we visited was in 2004 right after I got married. Always, always love the serenity and beauty of this place. My parents are currently visiting in Sringeri, brought back a lot of good memories.

  13. prajyot 22 May, 2008 at 07:28 Reply

    well…i really have nope words to express…more number of time i visit your feels amazing everytime..superb collection…superb creativity..i call it creativity cozz photography and paintings are best ways to express…and u do it the classical way..!! keep goinn..!!

  14. Alok 22 May, 2008 at 10:47 Reply

    Yet again a WOW ! that place is so peaceful n clam …

    I wonder how you managed to click all those pics without having the crowd in it :), specially the temple pic ?

  15. Anonymous 24 January, 2010 at 16:07 Reply

    Interesting blog. Just curious that most of the websites about Sringeri talk of a pregnant frog. How’s that possible, given that female frogs lay eggs in water, which are fertilized by the male shedding the sperm. Frogs do not give birth to young ones!

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