Kalady is a village located east of the Periyar river, in the Ernakulam district of Kerala. Notably, it is the birthplace of Sri Adi Shankara, and thus is a popular destination for pilgrims. Kalady started featuring in the spiritual map of India only after its rediscovery in the late 19th century by the then Shankaracharya of Sringeri and the subsequent consecration of a temple for Sri Adi Shankara in 1910.
Adi Shankara was born in Namboodiri Brahmin family as the only son of Sivaguru and Aryamba. Shankara's shrine at Kalady, run by the Sringeri Mutt, is a large, partly open structure situated on the northern bank of the river Periyar, or Purna. There are two major shrines in the temple; one is dedicated to Sri Sankaracharya and the other to Goddess Saradamba, the main deity of Sringeri. The samadhi of Sri Sankara's mother, Aryamba, is also located here. 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.
RAMAKRISHNA ADVAITA ASHRAM
The Ramakrishna Advaita Ashram is a branch centre of Ramakrishna Math, Belur Math. It is located very near the accepted birthplace of Sri 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 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.
SRI KRISHNA TEMPLE
To the west of the Sringeri Mutt temple complex is a temple dedicated to Sri Krishna. This temple is known as the ancestral deity of Sree Sankara Acharya. It is mentioned as the Kula deva (ancestral deity) in verse 243 of Prabodha Sudhakaram of Sree Sankara Acharya. The temple is under Kalady Devasthanam, in trusteeship of two Namboothiri families who had close associations with the life of Sankara. It is also the only surviving structure from the time of Sankara. The worship in this temple is also conducted by Namboothiris, unlike in Shankara.
MANICKAMANGALAM KARTHYAYANI TEMPLE
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.
MATTOOR THIRU VELLAMAN THULLI SIVA TEMPLE
Vellamanthulli temple is two kilometres west of Kalady. It is believed that Siva Sarman Namboodiri, father of Sree Sankara, installed the deity here.
According to legend, as the parents of Sree Sankara got older, they could not walk the distance to worship in the nearest temple. however, they still wanted to have darshan of the Lord. 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, saying he could worship the idol, and 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
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. 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, the father of Sree Sankara, was the priest of Karpillykavu Shiva temple, just 8 km south at Manjapra.
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.
In modern times, the area is leased by the Sree Sringeri Mutt, which also runs a Vedic school there.
ARYADEVI SAMADHI MANDAPAM
Aryadevi Samadhi Mandapam is dedicated to Aryadevi, the mother of Sree Sankara Acharya, as the place of her cremation. Sree Sankara 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 Sree Nadukaveri Sreenivasa Sastrikal- special envoy of Sree Sringeri Mutt identified and accepted Kalady as birth Place of Sankara Acharya in 1905 .The Travancore Highness acquired the whole area from Kappilly Mana in the AD 1905, and handed it over to the Sree Sringeri Mutt, which now maintains the Mandap.