On the right of the river Periyar, or 'Poorna' as it is also known
, there is a tiny village cradled in green fields, called Kalady.
This is an important pilgrimage center since it was the birth
place of Sri Adi Sankaracharya, one of India's foremost philosopher
saints who preached the monistic or 'advaita' philosophy.
Sri Sankaracharya was born here as the only son of Sivaguru and
Aryamba, a Kerala Brahmin couple. His early life was marked by
several miraculous exploits that singled him out for a divine
role. 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 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.
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.
Adi Sankara's shrine run by the Sringeri Math is a large, partly
open structure situated right on the bank of the river. Of the
two major shrines within, one is dedicated to Sri Sankaracharya
and the other to Goddess Saradamba
, guardian deity of Sringeri. The samadhi of Shri Sankara's mother
Aryamba is also located here. A small shrine to Vinayaka, or Ganapati,
is the seat of evening prayers, chanted to the rhythmic ringing
When the river Poorna changed its course, an ancient temple of
Sri Krishna, very dear to Sankara's mother, was submerged. A new
temple was then built by the loving son which is just next to
the Sringeri Shrine.
The Ramakrishna Advaita Ashram adjoining 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.
From the top of the tall 8-storey-high brilliantly painted pink
memorial, the Sri Adi Sankara Keerthi Sthambam, one can have a
splendid view of the surrounding palm-fringed green fields. The
entrance to the memorial, guarded by two elephant statues, leads
to the Paduka Mandapam which has two silver knobs representing
the 'padukas' or wooden sandals of the Teacher. As one ascends
the winding steps, framed relief paintings narrate the story of
Adi Sankaracharya. Several large statues of Ganapati, Adi Sankara
and others are also housed in this memorial.
Adi Sankara shrines in Kaladi are open to all pilgrims irrespective
of religion or caste.
Around Kaladi : Manickamangalam temple, one km
north of Kalady, dedicated to Bhagavathi or Goddess Durga, Vellimanthulli
temple, 2kms west of Kaladi, Malayattor church on a small hillock
8 kms away.
Festivals : Sankara Jayanti - 5 days (April/May)
celebtation include several religious rites, Navarathri - 9 days
(Sept/Octo) music concerts, chariot festival, 'rathotsavam' and
other exciting festivities.
Best season : Throughout the year, except monsoon
season (June to October).
Applicable to Trichur, Guruvayur, Kalady.
What to wear :Cottons
How to get there : Nedumbassery is the nearest
airport just 10kms away. Angamaly 10 kms away, or Alwaye 22 kms
away, are the nearest railway stations which are connected to
major Indian cities. Buses and taxis are available from Angamaly
to Kaladi. Kaladi is connected by an efficient bus service with
important towns in Kerala including Trivandrum, Palghat and Kozhikode
Where to Stay : Guest houses and choultries maintained
by Sringeri Math and Ramakrishna Advaita Ashram, Government Rest
House, Private lodges like Hotel Prince and Udaya Lodge offer
Sri Ramakrishna Advaita Ashram
P.O.Kalady, Dist.Ernakulam .
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