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 ( കാലടി വരയുന്നിട്ത്തു നദി ഗതി ആവും ). The 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 and other religious buildings

Institutions after 1900 AD

Shankara Temple

The Shankara Shrine at Kalady, run by the Sringeri Math, is a large, partly open structure situated on the northern bank of the river Periyar. There are two major shrines in the temple; one is dedicated to Shankara and the other to Goddess Saradamba, the main deity of Sringeri. The samadhi (place of death) of Shankara’s mother is also located here. A small shrine to Vinayaka is the scene of evening prayers, chanted to the rhythmic ringing of cymbals. The worship in these temples is done by Tamil or Kannada Smartha Brahmins and not by Namboothiris.

Ramakrishna Advaita Ashram

The Ramakrishna Advaita Ashram[6] is a branch centre of Sri Ramakrishna Math, Belur branch. It is located very near the accepted birthplace of Shankara. It has a spacious prayer hall and a shrine modeled on the Sri Ramakrishna temple at Belur Math. The Ashram also runs a school (Brahmanandodayam), a charitable dispensary, and a library.

Sri Adi Sankara Keerthi Sthamba Mandapam

Sri Adi Sankara Keerthi Sthamba Mandapam is an eight-story memorial built by Kanchi Kamakoti Math. The entrance to the memorial, guarded by two elephant statues, leads to the Paduka Mandapam. Two silver knobs represent the padukas, or wooden sandals of the Teacher. The walls of the memorial feature framed relief paintings that tell the story of Adi Shankaracharya. Several large statues of Ganapati, Adi Shankara, and others are also housed in this memorial. Adi Shankara’s shrines in Kalady are open to all pilgrims irrespective of religion and caste. Visitors can review the life of Shankaracharya as they climb to the top. The famous Shankara Stupa has 8 sides.

Institutions and places having legendary association with Acharya
Sri Krishna Temple

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 Karthyayani 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 Soundaryalahari.

Mattoor Thiru Vellaman Thulli Siva Temple
Vellamanthulli 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

Nayathodu Sankara Narayana Temple, 3 km west of Kalady, is an example of Advaita in worship by Shankaracharya. 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.

Manjapra Karppilli Kavu Siva Temple

Sivasarman Nambudiri, Shankaracharya’s father, was the priest of Karpillykavu Shiva temple, just 8 km south at Manjapra.

Thekke Madam

Thekke Madam is just adjacent to Krishna Temple. It was founded by the Trichur Shankaracharya.
As a 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.
In modern times, 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. He was assisted by two of the ten Namboothiri families of Kalady. One family, Kappilly Mana, honoured the location with daily lamps for centuries. It was noticing the daily lamp Nadukaveri Sreenivasa Sastrikal, special envoy of Sringeri Math, identified and accepted Kalady as Shankaracharya’s birthplace in 1905 .The Raja of Travancore acquired the whole area from Kappilly Mana in 1905 and handed it over to the Sringeri Math which now maintains the Mandap.

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Sree Sankara Santhi Nilayam & Educational Trust is an initiative of Kerala Brahmana Sabha , Ernakulam District Committee.

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