• Location Details
• Deity Worshipped
- Sri Sankaracharya
• Archeological facts
• Scriptural references
• Cultural Significance
• Temple details
• Festivals & Worships
• Address & Contact Details
Temple Name - Temple Of Sri Adi Shankaracharya
Main deity - Adi Shankaracharya, Goddess Saradamba
Location - Kalady, Kerala, India
There was a dark time in the spiritual history of India when there was total chaos and darkness caused by controversies and confusions instigated by existing and newly emerged faiths and believes. People were in a dilemma what to accept and what to shun and the absence of a guiding or an enlightening guru or force was absolutely felt. But it had always been repeated in the history that when there is a need for resurrection someone will appear from nowhere to lead us into the right path from the distorted one and that will give everything a heavenly touch to correct the wrong and to uplift the total state of affairs. India was in such a deplorable state that Adi Sanakaracharaya the greatest of all philosophers that world had ever produced appeared and lived, preaching and practicing his ever applicable notions and norms about Advaitha the very foundation of Hinduism. It was during this timing of great spiritual crisis that Sri Adi Shankaracharya was born in a small Indian village called Kalady in Kerala. Seldom in history has one individual had so much influence on a nation, its civilization and religion.
Kalady and the actual location of his birthplace in Kalady remained unknown for many centuries. However, a remarkable change occurred at the cusp of the 19th and 20th century when Sri Sacchidananda Shivabhinava Narasimha Bharati Mahaswamiji the 33rd Acharya of the Dakshinamnaya Sri Sharada Peetham at Sringeri, the first and foremost Peetham established by Sri Adi Shankaracharya rediscovered Kalady. Today there is a beautiful shrine to Jagadguru Sri Adi Shankaracharya at the very location where He was born and lived His early life. Sankara temple in Kalady is one of the major shrines among other temples in the surrounding area. Situated at the bank of Periyar River this is an open structure dedicated to Sri Sankaracharya and other gods and goddesses including Goddess Saradamba.
Kalady is a small pilgrimage centre located on the eastern side of Periyar River in Kerala. Since 19th century this place has been enlisted as one of the major pilgrimage centres in South India which is surrounded with a number of colourful temples. Originally known as Sasalam this was a small village which was ruled by the Chera Dynasty. Surrounded with some ancient ghats and age old temples Kalady is considered to be one of the most important sights of Kerala.
It is a joint message from Jagadguru Shankaracharyas of Sringeri, Dwaraka, Badari and Puri that “Kalady is a pre-eminent center for inspiration on the banks of the Puma River that purifies every man in thought, word and deed. A visit to Kalady increases tranquility, self-restraint and other eminent virtues of those engaged in the pursuit of knowledge. It is the duty of every common man to visit the Holy Kalady, the birth place of Adi Sankara, and more so any aspirant for liberation, the sanyasi and those who follow the Advaita school of thought”
At Kalady, there are two shrines ,one is dedicated to Sri Sankaracharya as Dakshinamoorthi and the other to Goddess Saradamba, guardian deity of Sringeri and is looked after by the Sringeri Mutt. The Sringeri Mutt is believed to be situated exactly at the same place where Adi Shankaracharya house once stood. To the left of the entrance of the temple is a black pole, which was meant to mark the exact spot where Adi Sankaracharya was born. Sharada is the main Goddess for Sringeri Shankara Mutt. The goddess is sitting posture with four hands. Near the shrine of Sharada, there are few idols such as Brahmi, Varahi, etc. Sri Vedha Purusha (a huge Vedha Book) is kept in the temple and is worshipped.
The temple also houses the samadhi of Aryambal, the mother of Adi Shankaracharya. There is a lamp, which is believed to be lit by Adi Shankaracharya, is also found near the samadhi. A small shrine to Vinayaka, or Ganapati, 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.
Sri Sankaracharya was born as the only son of Sivaguru and Aryamba, a Kerala Brahmin(Nambuudiri) couple. It was he who played a major role in saving the Hindu religion from the ritualistic and superstitious state to which it had degenerated. At his birth, astrologers had predicted among other things, that he would become a 'sarvajana' or an all-knowing sage. The extraordinarily intelligent boy mastered the Vedas and completed his studies when he was merely 16 years of age. He then started his quest for truth and spent many years of his life preaching the Vedic Dharma as well as its universality and superiority. He established four 'maths' in four sections of the country-Sringeri, Dwaraka, Joshimath and Puri. His commentaries on the Upanishads, Brahmasutra and the Bhagavad Gita hold relevance even today. At the age of 32, Adi Sankara attained 'mahasamadhi'.
The existence of Vedic Dharma in India today is due to Sankara. Sankara is the foremost among the master-minds and the giant souls which Mother India has produced. He was the expounder of the Advaita philosophy. Sankara was a giant metaphysician, a practical philosopher, an infallible logician, a dynamic personality and a stupendous moral and spiritual force. His grasping and elucidating powers knew no bounds. He was a fully developed Yogi, Jnani and Bhakta.
The teachings of Sankara can be summed up in half a verse: “Brahma Satyam Jagan Mithya Jivo Brahmaiva Na Aparah—Brahman (the Absolute) is alone real; this world is unreal; and the Jiva or the individual soul is non-different from Brahman.” This is the quintessence of his philosophy.
Still there persists some debate regarding the time Adi sankara lived and where he got his Samadhee. There are two versions about the period of Adi Shankara. Some claim that his period is 2500 years, whereas there are other who argue that he belonged to 8th century AD. Similarly, there are disputes in where he attained samadhi. However, there is no dispute about his birthplace. Adi Shankaracharya was born in a Namboodhiri family in Kalady and all the holy places there now is the solid truth to prove his birth and that he spent his early phases of life there.
Kalady, the birth place of Sri Sankara remained obscure till the beginning of 20th century. Jagadguru Sri Sachidananda Shivabhinava Narasimha Bharathi Swamigal, the 33rd Peetathipathi of the illustrious Sringeri guru parampara with the help of Sri Moolam Thirunal Ramavarma Maharaja of Thiruvitamcore located Kalady. His Holiness built two temples one for Goddess Sharadamba and one for Sri Sankara. The Kumabhishekam was performed on the auspicious Magha shukla dwadasi in the year 1910 (21-02-1910). There after Kalady grew into prominence as a great international pilgrim center. The Maha Swamiji began the conduct of Sri Sankara Jayanthi and Navarathri at Kalady from that time. In 1927 a veda vedanta patashala was established by Jagadguru Sri Chandrasekhara Bharathi Mahaswamigal. H.H. also built an agraharam and staff quarters. Diving the dharmic reign of Jagadguru SriAbhinava Vidyatheertha Mahaswamigal there was a lot of improvement at the temple complex including the construction of a Guest House for pilgrims.
The present peetathipathi Sri SriBharathi Theertha Mahaswamigal is responsible for the all-round improvement of the temple and nearby places. H.H. takes keen interest in the educational institutions working under his patronage (Sree Shankara College, Sree Sharada vidyalayam, Adi Shankara Institute of Engineering and Technology, Adi Shankara Training College, The Rig-Veda patasala and Sri Sankara School of Dance and Music are some of the educational centers managed by Sringeri Mutt). In 1991 H.H. Sri Sri Bharathi Theertha Mahaswamigal laid the foundation stone for the Sree Shankaracharya University of Sanskrit at Kalady and gave liberal donation to the same. H.H. is the Chief Counsellor of the University. There are many people who have contributed to the growth of Kalady from a small village to a village of educational institutions. The foremost among them is Swami Agamananda.
Sankara’s early life was marked by several miraculous exploits that singled him out for a divine role.
The village of Kalady, meaning 'Feet', was earlier known as "Sasalam." There is a touching story explaining how Kalady got the new name. Among the many miraculous happenings associated with his life is one when he is believed to have diverted the course of the river Poorna , then flowing one and a half kilometers away from the house, for his aged mother who could have her daily bath in the river without walking a long way. Even today one can see the river has taken an uncharacteristic turn towards the Sringeri Math shrine, believed to be the site of Sankara.
One kilometre north of Kalady is the Manickamangalam temple, dedicated to Bhagavathi or the goddess Durga. The father of Sree Sankara Shiva Sharman Namboodiri was the priest in this temple. According to legend, one day he could not go by himself, so he sent Sankara with a measure of milk as an offering to Devi. Little Sankara 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 Soundarya Lahari.
According to legend, as the parents of Sree Sankara got older, they were not able to walk to even the nearest temple. Shiva appeared in a dream, and he suggested that Sarman Nambudiri follow a dancing white deer that would appear before his house the next day. Shiva promised the deer would lead him to an idol and disappear and that he could worship the idol, and need not walk the long distance to the temple. This Siva temple was named Thiru Vella Man Thulli, or dancing white deer.
Nayathodu Sankara Narayana Temple, 3 km west of Kalady, is an example of Advaitam in worship by Sankara Acharya. According to legend, once Sree Sankara prayed Vishnu in this Shiva temple, Vishnu also came to reside in same idol. Even today once offerings are made to Shiva, everything is removed and offerings are made to the same idol for Vishnu.
One day while roaming for Alms Sanakara came to the hut of a poor lady.The lady, finding that there is nothing to offer to the young lad, searched and found a lone ‘amla’ fruit which was lying there for some time With tears in her eyes, she offered the lone amla fruit to the boy .Sankara Seeing her condition and out of sympathy, he pleaded with mother Lakshmi to shower prosperity on the poor lady .Immediately Golden amla fruits started falling from the roof of her house .The recitation is known as famous “Kanakadhara stotram” which enabled the flow of golden amla fruits in the house of the poor Brahmin lady. Even now the recitation of this beautiful stotram brings prosperity in the households of poor people.
Another supernatural incident in his life happened when he needed his mother's permission to take up 'sanyas'. While he and his mother were bathing in the river one day, Sankara created through his yogic powers, a crocodile which caught him and began to beg to his mother to allow him to take 'sanyas' upon which the crocodile may spare him. The mother, of course, granted permission and Sankara was set free. The bathing ghat where this is believed to have happened is just below the Sringeri temple.
At Kashi, one day Sankara had a strange experience. He was going to the Ganga for his bath when an outcaste came from the opposite direction with four dogs and obstructed the way. Sankara ordered him out his path. The outcaste retorted: "Whom you are asking to get away, the body or the soul? The soul is pure and omnipresent. Is there any difference in the reflection of the moon seen in the Ganges or in a wine cup? As for the body, it is inert; can it move away?" Sankara was taken aback. He realized that the outcaste was none other than the Lord of Kashi and fell prostrate at his feet. He broke forth into an Advaitic hymn which has become famous as the Manishapanchaka-Five Verses of Human wisdom and which has this refrain: The man who sees the same self in all beings and leads his life accordingly, is my guru, be he an outcaste or a high-caste Brahmin.
Over the last century, the rediscovery of Kalady has proved to be a great impetus to the teachings of Adi Shankaracharya and in general, to the followers of Sanatana Dharma. Sri Sadvidya Sanjivini Rig Veda Patashala at Kalady is a unique institution that teaches Vedas and Sastras in the traditional method.
Sankara temple in Kalady is one of the major shrines, situated at the bank of Periyar River this is an open structure dedicated to Sri Sankaracharya and other gods and goddesses including Goddess Saradamba. The temple includes a Keerthi Mandapam, a Paduka Mandapam, a Geeta Upadesam center, and some shrines too. There is an imposing image of the Shri Sankara with his four disciples (the four disciples who became the head of the four Vedic institutions or Mutts Sankara built in India) on the top floor of the mandapam. The temple walls are adorned with paintings and sculptures depicting the life and works of Sakaracharya. The Sarada temple, constructed by Sankara himself, has the Ashtapadma form (Eight Petal Lotus). The ‘Ashtapadma’ represents the eight petals of Hrudaya Kamala. The Sankara temple is constructed in the form of ‘Shodaskona’, that means having 16 edges, representing 16 arts of Divinity.
Adi Sankara Keerthi Sthampa Mandapam
Sri Adi Sankara Keerthi Sthamba Mandapam is an eight-story memorial built by Kanchi Kamakoti Mutt. 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 Sankaracharya. Several large statues of Ganapati, Adi Sankara, and others are also housed in this memorial. Adi Sankara's shrines in Kalady are open to all pilgrims, irrespective of religion and caste. Visitors can review the life of Sankara Acharya as they climb to the top.The famous Sankara Stupa has 8 sides.Kalady as a popular pilgrimage includes a number of temples which were largely established by Adi Shankaracharya. Originally it is surrounded with the religious institutions that nearly date back to the 19th century.
The Ramakrishna Advaita Ashram
It is near to the Sri Krishna temple, has a spacious prayer hall and a beautiful shrine modelled on the Sri Ramakrishna temple at Nelur Math. The white marble statue of Sri Ramakrsihna seems to be the very epitome of tranquillity. Just outside this temple are sold a variety of publications both for general and serious reading. The Ashram also runs a school, charitable dispensary and library.
Brindavan of Aryamba
This is a holy spot in Kalady where Aryamba, the mother of Sri Adi Shankara was cremated. The lamp post made of black stone just near this samadhi was in existance from the time of Sri Shankara. Timings: 6 am-1 pm, 4-8 pm. Near to this is a Ganapati Shrine.
Sri Krishna Temple, Kalady
Dedicated to Lord Krishna, the family deity of Sri Adi Shankara, Sri Krishna Temple is located to the west of the Sringeri Mutt temple complex. Built in the typical Kerala style, this small temple is under the Kalady Devaswom and the worship is conducted by Namboothiris. Timings: 5.30 -11am, 5.30 - 7.30 pm.
Nayathodu Sankara Narayana Temple,
3 km west of Kalady, is an example of Advaitam in worship by Sankara Acharya.
Thekke Madhom is just adjacent to Sri Krishna Temple. It was founded by Sree Sankara Acharya at Trichur. To pay respect to Sree Sankara Acharya, this Mutt was given special Archana rights at Sri Krishna Temple, the temple of the ancestral deity of Sankara, in 825 CE. To facilitate this leasehold property (Kana Pattam), lands were provided by Kalady Devaswom. This Mutt was given kingship rights in Kalady in 1730, thus marking the area of Sankara Sanketham. This was the only Mutt of Sree Sankara tradition for centuries that respected Kalady and sanctified it.
The three famous adjacent to the temple are Crocodile Ghat, Ghat of the Post-Funeral Rites of Mother Aryadevi, Kalady Kadavu (Aaraattu Kadavu)
Festivals & Worships
The Temple complex draws a large number of devotees and pilgrims especially during sri Shankara Jayanthi and Sarada Sarannavarathri festivals. Pilgrims and tourists from all parts of India and abroad, visit this temple for spiritual solace and peace of mind. Shankara Jayanthi is the main festival celebrated in the months of April / May every year for 5 days. Navarathri which is celebrated for nine days and Rathostavam, the chariot festival are also celebrated here. Here the Lord Krishna is known as Thrikalady appan and the annual festival falls on 6th January, Aarattu of the Lord Thrikaladiappan has been taking place in the holy ghat which was drawn by Little Sankara and the name Kalady was born. This is the place where Little Sankara performed Aarattu of the idol of Lord Krishna before installing the idol in the temple.
Address & Contact Details
As in the rest of Central Kerala, the monsoon here sets in by June and lasts till August. The best time to visit Kaladi would be between October and February when the weather is cool and pleasant.
Visiting hours: Sringeri Mutt temple: 5.30 am to 12.30 pm and 3.30 pm to 8.00 pm.
Adi Sankara shrines in Kaladi are open to all pilgrims irrespective of religion or caste.
Address & Contact Person
The Honorary Manager,
Sri Sringeri Shankara Math,
Kalady, Eranakulam District - 683574
Phone: 0484-2462350, 0484-2465922
How to Reach Kalady
Kochi international airport is the nearest at about 5 kilometers from Kalady,
Angamaly is the closest railway station but all trains do not stop here. Aluva is the nearest major railway station and is 22 kilometers away from Kalady.
It is very easy to connect Kalady with the other towns and cities of Kerala as the Main Central Road which starts from Angalamy runs through Kalady by connecting Thiruvananthapuram etc. Kaladi can be reached from Angamali, a small town on Chennai- Allepey rail route. It can also be accessed from Thrisur,Palghat, Cochin and Trivandrum.