Kerala, the land of exquisite natural beauty and age-old cultural
heritage, is also the birthplace of some great thinkers and philosophers whose
words and deeds have been passed through generations. One of the prominent philosophers
and theologians named Adi Shankaracharya was born in the town of Kalady, making
it a popular pilgrimage destination. This place is quite popular for the
memories and trails left due to the influence of Adi Shankaracharya and his
teaching and preaching about Advaita Vedanta. That’s the reason it has been
considered as knowledge and cultural hub for so long. Kalady has two important
shrines commemorating the memory of Adi Shankaracharya. Out of these two, one
is dedicated to him as Dakshinamoorthi whereas the other one is dedicated to
goddesses Sharada(or Sarasvati, the goddess of wisdom).
Adi Shankaracharya was the only son of Sivaguru and Aryamba. At an early
age of 16, he completed the study of Vedas and got a strong hold on them. With
a strenuous effort, he popularized the Vedantic principles, which are the core
philosophy behind Hinduism.
Kalady is considered as a land of temples as it is surrounded by many
temples, namely Sri Krishna Temple, Manickamangalam temple, Sri Adi Sankara
Keerthi Mandapam and many more. If you ever choose Kalady as a religious or
pilgrimage destination, it will give you the best memorable experience. You can
feel a unique and soul soothing ambience once you landed on Kalady. You will
get overwhelmed by the positive vibe and utter devotional spirit of tourists
More on Kalady
History of Kalady
The ancient name of Kalady was Sasalam.
There is a nice little story behind how the name Kalady came into existence.
Once the mother of Adi Shankaracharya was returning home after finishing her
daily bath in the Poorna River. Due to a 3 km long walking path, she fainted on
her way. Worried about this situation, the young Shankaracharya asked his
venerated god, Lord Krishna, to help to shorten the distance. Lord Krishna got
overwhelmed by the prayer of devotee Shankaracharya and blessed him with a
power to mark the place with his little feet where he wanted the river to flow.
Shankaracharya put his feet in place, and the now known Periyar River started
its course following his footsteps. That is how the name of the place changed
to Kalady, which means “Feet”.
There is this belief that this place was
founded by a chieftain named Rajasekara. Being an avid follower of Lord Shiva,
he built a Shiva temple and provided accommodation for Brahmins. Kanchi Mutt,
under the guidance of Chandrasekarendra Saraswati, built the Adi Sankara Kirti
Stambh Mandapam in Kalady. It’s one of the major tourist attractions.
Kalady, being a pilgrimage hotspot, has
many Ghats(riverfront steps leading to the banks of the River) for performing
different religious rituals.
The Legendary Ghats in Kalady
Kalady was born on the banks of this Ghat
where the river took its turn.Here,
Shankaracharya performed Aaraattu of his ancestral deity. On the festive
occasion of Sri Krishna Temple, Aaraattu is done at this ghat of Kalady Kadavu.
Muthala Kadavu or Crocodile
It is the place where Sankara took the oath of
celibacy. At first, his mother was not happy due to his decision. But one day,
while taking a bath at the Ghat of Poorna, he was caught by a crocodile, and he
used this as an example to convince her mother about his decision.
Ghat of the Post-Funeral
Rites of Mother Aryadevi
It is the place where Shankaracharya performed the
funeral rituals of his mother. Later, this Ghat came under the premises of
Sringeri Mutt compound.
Temples Near Kalady
Sri Adi Sankara Keerthi
This Keerthi Mandapa was built by Kanchi Kamakoti
Mutt to preserve the memory of Sri Adi Shankaracharya. It is an eight storey building whose every nook
and corner is ready to tell you about the tale of Shankaracharya’s legendary
endeavours. You will be welcomed by two mammoth elephants statues at the entrance
gate, which will then lead you to the Paduka Mandapam where you can see the
wooden sandals called Kathau or Paduka of Shankaracharya.
Sri Krishna Temple
As the name suggests, this temple is dedicated to
the Lord Sri Krishna. It is located to the west of the Sringeri Mutt. Lord
Krishna is the ancestral deity of Shankaracharya, and it is the only temple in
Kalady where Lord Krishna was reinstalled by Shankaracharya after performing
the Aaraattu(river bath) in Kalady Kadavu Ghat.
This temple is dedicated to Goddess Durga. There is a story attached to the temple. Once the
temple priest, Sivaguru, was unable to go to offer milk to Goddess Durga.
Instead, he sent the young Shankarayacharya. While offering the milk to
the idol of Goddess Durga, Sankara noticed no change in the amount of milk. He
burst with tears thinking that Devi Durga was not receiving his offering.
Looking at the innocence and devotion of Sankara, goddess Durga appeared and
accepted his offering.
Nayathodu Sankara Narayana
This is a Shiva temple where Shankaracharya started
praying to get the blessing of Lord Vishnu. As he finished his prayer, both the
deities, Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu started inhabiting in the statue of the
temple. That’s the reason why after the offering is made for Lord Shiva,
another offering begins for Lord Vishnu.
Aryadevi Samadhi Mandapam
This is the place dedicated to the mother of
Shankaracharya, Aryadevi. This is where she was cremated, and for the serenity
of her soul, lamps are lit by Kapilly Mana(the family assisted in cremation)
Festivals Celebrated in Kalady
To commemorate the legacy and
contribution of Shankaracharya to this land of Vedas and Upanishadas, Sankara
Jayanti is celebrated every year for five days during the month of April or
May. Navratri is celebrated in Lord Shiva Temples. The popular festival dedicated
to Lord Krishna is celebrated on the 6th of January every year.
How to Reach Kalady
You can reach Kalady via airport or
railway. Nedumbassery airport is about 6 km away from Kalady whereas the
Angamali railway station is at 10 km distance. You can use bus or taxi service
to reach Kalady from the airport or railway station.