Saturday, October 31, 2009

Kelady, birth place of Adi Shankaracharya

Kelady is situated on the bank of river Periyar, where the great saint Adi Shankaracharya was born in 788 AD. Kelady can be reached from Angamali railway station and the international airport located nearby.

Even though it was the birth place of the great saint Adi Shankaracharya, it was neglected and almost buried into the annals of history. The importance of the town was reclaimed with the efforts of Swami Narasimha Bharti of Sringeri Mutt along with the help of the state government.

The reconstruction effort began in 1910 AD with the aid of 10 acres of land from the state govt on the right banks of the river periyar also known as Poorna, a temple dedicated to the Sharada Amba was built. Krishna temple too was constructed adjescent to Sharada temple in 1970 AD.

Local tradition believe that the river Poorna was infested with Crocs where the sage was caught by one such reptile. The sage escaped with his divine power taming the croc. The sage cremated his mother as promised by him, when she passed away near this very spot. This was marked by Shankaracharya with a small pillar, which became a holy spot for construction of the current Sharadamba temple.

Devotees from Karnataka will not feel out of place, since the priests at the temple speak fluent kannada, if one starts conversation. They help you to discover the heritage of Adi Shankara too, unfortunately there is no book or video cassette on the temple despite its historic importance.

We had a nice dharshan of the temple, in whose premises photography is prohibited, which is strange though, since it does not carry much of historical relevance or erotic sculptures are visible. The very fact that tourists snapping up would infact promote more devotees to return or visit the temple.

The main idols of Sharadamba and Shankara are built with Panchloha or admixture of five metals. The former is in hexagonal shape. The other goddesses are sculpted in granite and embedded on the fa├žade of the temple. The six idols represent Maheswari ( west ) Kaumari ( south-west ) Vaishnavi ( north-west ) Varahi ( north ) Indrani ( north east ) and Chamundeswari ( east ).

Opp the Sharadamba temple is the newly constructed Ganapati temple with a consort. This is a rare phenomenon since Lord Ganesh is generally potrayed individually in most temples. The consort is supposed to be the bride elect for the Lord. Maybe the marriage ceremonies are held in this place in the current era. The Muktistan of Adishankara is located near to this temple where Adi Shankaracharya consigned his mothers body into flame.

The adjescent Krishna temple houses the idol of the lord which was submerged when the river Periyar changed course. This idol was re-installed when this temple was constructed on the higher bank. The temple is typical built in Kerala architecture with sloped tile work, carved wooden pillars and a shrine in the enclosure is dedicated to Lord Ayyappan.

An imposing Keerthy stamba was erected in memory of the great saint on May 12th, 1978 by his Jayendra Swamigal of Kanchi Kamakoti Preetham Unfortunately the kanchi guru was arrested on 11th Nov 2004 Charged with conspiring to murder the temple manager Shankaraman.

The magnificient tower is nine storeyed and one can ascend with an enterance fee of Rs 2 per head. The 100 odds steps to the top is filled with lifetime episodes of sage adi shankaracharya. This structure is slightly leaning and towers 51 meters in height and 20 meters in diameter. One can easily mistake the tower to be a lighthouse at a glance, in the absence of seashore nearby. Events from the life of the guru is beautifully sculpted in colour from the time of his birth. A imposing 11 feet statue Shankaracharaya is installed on the upper most floor. Unfortunately we cannot see the landscape below from the top floor due to closure of access.

An ashram is established on the shankara jayanthi day 26th January 1936 which also contains a statue of Ramakrishna in white marble. A full fledged Gurukula, library, dispensary etc is run by the trust for the benefit of the local community. A guest house is available for devotees to stay, which can be booked with prior information. There are other govt. guest house and tourist lodges too located in Kelady town. Due to the efforts of Srigeri Mutt, Kelady has become a prosperous town from an obscure village.

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