By Swami Harshananda
Kālaḍī or Kālaṭī is a small town situated on the bank of the river Purṇā. It is the birth place of Śaṅkara (A. D. 788-820) as declared by his biographies. Presently the modern town Kālaḍī (or Kalady) is situated in the Ernakulam district of Kerala State. It is about 13 kms. (8 miles) from Alwaye, 45 kms. (28 miles) from Kochi (Cochin) and 55 kms. (34 miles) from the city of Trichur.
A chieftain named Rājaśekhara founded the original village of Kālaḍī. He had a dream in which he saw a self-manifested Śivaliṅga at this place. After discovering it, he built a temple and a colony for the brāhmaṇas and others who took care of it. Vidyādhirāja was one of these first settlers. He was the father of Śaṅkara.
The Śāradā Maṭha of Śṛṅgerī has a branch here at the place where Śaṅkara’s original house was situated. There are two temples here. One temple is of goddess Śāradāmbā and the other one is of Śaṅkara as Dakṣiṇāmurti. A black pole to the left of the main entrance is believed to be the exact place where Śaṅkara was born.
The other places of interest are:
- A memorial which marks the place where Āryāmbā (Śaṅkara’s mother) was cremated
- The Crocodile Ghāṭ
- The bathing place in the Purṇā river where the boy Śaṅkara is said to have been attacked by a crocodile
- Śrikṛṣṇa temple
The erstwhile Śañkarācārya of the Kāñcī Kāmakoṭi Pīṭha has built a monument called ‘Ādi Śaṅkara Kīrtistambha Maṇḍapa’ in Kālaḍī. It is 45 meters (147 ft.) high and has nine storeys. There are illustrations in the form of relief paintings depicting the story of Śaṅkara. The Śṛṅgerī Śāradā Maṭha is running a Sanskrit University here.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore