Saraswati Temples in India
Goddess Saraswati, depicted in a white sari, along with Veena and peacock, is the goddess of music, knowledge, wisdom and arts. In Sanskrit sara means ‘essence’ and swa means ‘self’. Saraswati is considered the creative power of Lord Brahma, as knowledge is required to create the world. As per Skanda Purana, Lord Shiva is the father of Goddess Saraswati. She is known by different names in different languages, like in Telugu the goddess is called Chaduvula, in Konkani she is known as Sharada, and in Tamil she is called Kalaimagal. Her other names are Veena Pustaka Dharani, Vani, Vagdevi, Varadhanayagi, etc. You may find many temples of others gods like Vishnu and Shiva, but there are very few temples of Goddess Saraswati in India. Let us explore some of the popular ones.
Saraswati Temple at Basar
One of the very prominent Saraswati temples, this one is situated in the Adilabad district of Andhra Pradesh at a well known place called Basar or Basara. At Basar, the goddess is famous by the name Gnana Saraswathi, meaning the provider of knowledge. The temple is located on the banks of River Godavari.
Legend: The Sage Veda Vyasa after the Kurukshetra war was searching for peace and reached Basara situated on the banks of River Godavari in Dandakaranya. He found this place very serene and so started meditating here. The Divine Mother appeared before him and asked him to set up the Shakthi trio (Maha Saraswathi, Maha Lakshmi and Maha Kali). He brought three handfuls of sand from the river bank and started worshiping the Shakthi trio. It is said that those sand heaps then turned into three idols of Goddess Lakshmi, Saraswathi and Kali. The place was earlier known as Vyasapuri, but that later changed to Basara or Basar. Goddess Saraswati, who is the presiding deity in the temple, is shown in a seated position with a Veena (musical instrument) in her hands. A little distance from the temple is the shrine of Maha Lakshmi and Maha Kali.
Aksharabhyasam at Basara Temple
Aksharabhyasam is one of the famous rituals performed at Goddess Saraswati temple. It is a formal introduction of a child into education. Many devotees bring their children to the temple, especially on Vasantha Panchami day, for the Aksharabhyasam ritual. It is believed that after this ritual the child will do wonders in education.
Panachikkad Saraswathi Temple
This temple is located at Panachikkad, Kerala and is known as Dakshina Mookambika temple. At Kolloor it is popularly called Mookambika temple. Lord Vishnu is the main deity of the temple, who is worshipped before the Goddess Saraswati. The Saraswati Pooja festival held during September-October is the main festival of this temple. People also celebrate Navarathri with great enthusiasm. The temple has a rich history that goes back thousands of years.
Shri Saraswati Temple at Pushkar, Rajasthan
The Shri Saraswati Temple is visited by thousands of tourists each year, while devotees offer prayers to Goddess Saraswati, the deity of art and knowledge. The temple has a very distinct and beautiful structure, representing the Hindu style of architecture.
Saraswati temple at BITS Pilani campus
The popular Birla Mandir at BITS Pilani campus, Rajasthan, is dedicated to Goddess Saraswati. It is a white marble temple that is built on a 7-foot (2.1 m)-high foundation. 70 pillars provide support to the entire temple. The temple was built by the Birla family of industrialists, and follows the Indo-Aryan Nagara scheme of temple construction. Five sections, namely the Garbha-Griha, the Pradakshinapatha, the Antarala, the Mandapam and the Ardha Mandapa are parts of the Saraswati temple. The exterior of the temple is adorned by beautiful designs and figures of saints, scientists and philosophers. The temple signifies a bond between spiritual and religious realm with modern and scientific world.
Maha Saraswathi in Kaleswaram
Goddess Saraswathi is worshipped in the form of Maha Saraswathi at Maha Saraswathi temple in Kaleswaram.
Shri Vidya Saraswathi in Wargal
Hamsa Vahini is the form of Goddess Saraswati worshipped at Vidya Saraswathi. The temple is situated at Wargal in the Medak district of Andhra Pradesh. The Kanchi Shanker Mutt maintains the temple. Close the place are temples of other gods and goddesses, like Sri Lakshmi Ganapathi Temple, Sri Vidya Saraswati temple, Lord Shanishchara Temple, and Lord Shiva Temple. Nitya Annadanam (meals) is provided for free at the temple. To learn ancient Vedas, Shri VIdya Saraswathi Temple also has a Veda Paathashaala in its vicinity, which provides accommodation to about 300 students.
Saraswati in Kuthanur
The Saraswati temple at Kuthanur, a small village in the Tiruvarur district of Tamil Nadu, has a stone image of Goddess Saraswati. The goddess is sitting in a yogic posture and has four arms, holding rosary (japamala), water-pot (kamandala), chinmudra (indicative of knowledge) and a palm-leaf manuscript. As per legend, Ottakuttar, a famous Tamil poet during Chola period in the 12th century, had a vision of Goddess Saraswati. After this he became a great poet and gained popularity. It is said that Ottakuttar then constructed the temple. One can also see a stone image of Ottakuttar at the entrance of the temple. White saris and lotus flowers are also offered to Goddess Saraswati at the temple.
Shri Saraswathi Kshetramu
This temple of Goddess Saraswati is located at Ananthasagar, Siddipet Division, Medak district of Andhra Pradesh. Astakala Narasimha Rama Sharma built this temple between 1980 and 1990.