Located about 45 kms away from Kochi, Kalady is the birthplace of the great ninth century philosopher and religious performer Sri Shankaracharya. One of Hinduism’s most influential figures in India, Shankaracharya was devoted to Lord Shiva. Living in the 8th century, Shankaracharya founded the school advaitha philosophy.

Situated on the north banks of the Periyar River in the Ernakulam district, this tiny village is now a popular place of pilgrimage. Cradled in green fields, the place has a small temple complex and the Sringeri Math said to mark the site of Shankarachary’s house.

Legend holds that one day Aryamba, the widowed mother of Shankara, fainted after walking three kilometers for her daily bath in the Periyar, then known as Purna River. Feeling helpless, Shankara prayed to Lord Krishna. The tears of the child moved Krishna, who blessed him thus: “The river will flow where your little feet marks. Purna River took its new course in the place marked by the little boy’s feet. That place came to be called Kalady. The Purna River began flowing through Shankara’s home garden. Shankara then installed Krishna into the present temple, and marked the occasion by reciting his famous Achyutashtakam. Thus “Kalady” signifies the love of an innocent child for his beloved mother and the blessings of Krishna.

Temples dedicated to Sri Sankara, Sarada Devi, Sri Krishna and Sri Ramakrishna add to the sanctity of the destination. A place called Crocodile Ghat is where Sri Sankara took his vows of renunciation. According to legends, a crocodile caught hold of him and refused to release him until Sankara’s mother Aryamba permitted him to accept Sanyas (renunciation).

Institutions and places having legendary association with Acharya: 

Sree Krishna Temple, Kalady 

To the west of the Sringeri Math temple complex is a temple dedicated to Krishna. This temple is known as the ancestral deity of Shankaracharya. It is mentioned as the kuladevata (ancestral deity) in verse 243 of Shankara’s Prabodha Sudhakaram. The temple is under Kalady Devasthanam, in trusteeship of two Namboothiri families who had close associations with the life of Shankara. It is also the only surviving structure from the time of Shankara. The worship in this temple is also conducted by Namboothiris, unlike in the Shankaracharya temple.

Manickamangalam Kathyayani Temple: One kilometre north of Kalady is the Manickamangalam temple, dedicated to Bhagavathi, or the goddess Durga. Shankara’s father Sivaguru was the priest in this temple.

According to legend, one day he could not go by himself, so he sent little Shankara with a measure of milk as an offering to Devi. Shankara noticed that even after the offering, the measure of milk before Devi remained unchanged. He was sad and started to cry, so Devi took pity on the boy and drank the milk. References to the deity can be found in Saundarya Lahari.

Mattoor Thiru Vellaman Thulli Siva Temple is two kilometres west of Kalady. According to legend, as Shankara’s mother Aryamba got older, she could not walk to Vadakkunnathan temple in Thrissur to worship. She still wanted to have darshan of the Lord. Shiva appeared in a dream, and he suggested that Aryamba follow a dancing white deer that would appear before her house the next day. Shiva promised the deer would lead her to an idol and disappear, saying she could worship the idol, and not walk the long distance to the temple. This Shiva temple was named Thiru Vella Man Thulli, or “dancing white deer.”

Nayathodu Sankara Narayana Temple: It is 3 km west of Kalady. According to legend, once Shankara prayed to Vishnu in this Shiva temple, Vishnu also came to reside in same idol. To this day, after offerings are made to Shiva, everything is removed and offerings are made to the same idol for Vishnu.

Thekke Madam: Thekke Madam is just adjacent to Krishna Temple. It was founded by the Trichur Shankaracharya.

As homage to Shankara, this Trichur Math was given special archana rights at Krishna Temple, the temple of the Shankara’s ancestral deity, in year 825. To facilitate this leasehold property (kana pattam), lands were provided by Kalady Devaswom. This Math was given kingship rights in Kalady in 1730, thus marking the area of Sankara Sanketham. This was the only Math of Shankaracharya tradition for centuries that respected Kalady and sanctified it. The area is leased by the Sringeri Math which also runs a Vedic school there.

Aryadevi Samadhi Mandapam: Aryadevi Samadhi Mandapam is dedicated to Aryadevi (Aryamba), Shankaracharya’s mother, as the place of her cremation. Shankara performed the cremation of his mother after her death.






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