Lists of Buddhist sites and traditions in Kerala

This is a list of ancient Buddhist sites, relics, traditions and places from the Indian state of Kerala. Even though Kerala does not have any major presence of Buddhists in modern times, many historians recognize a Buddhist heritage that seem to have existed until the 10th century CE along with a widespread Sramana tradition of co-existence between Vedic Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and ancient Dravidian folk religion.[1][2]

List of statues discovered

Thantric Buddha statue called pathikkalappan from Meloor, Koyilandy, Kozhikode[3]
Karumadikuttan Buddha statue and stupa
Broken Karumadikuttan Buddha statue
Buddha statue at Mavelikkara
Buddha statue at Bharanikkavu

There are about five Buddha statues that were discovered from modern day Kerala.[4] These include:

  • Karumadikkuttan, a half-broken Buddha statue found close to the Sri Krishna Temple at Karumady near Ambalapuzha. It was visited by Dalai Lama in 1965 and a pagoda was built to house the statue. It is made from black rock and seated on a pedestal facing west direction. This statue has a height of 3.5 feet and the head also possess markings that resemble a headgear. Local accounts attribute the inflicted damages to either of two different (although unproven) possible causes:
    • a charging elephant enraged by the villagers and
    • the forces of a Mughal king who ordered the Buddhist statues to be destroyed across India
  • Buddha statue near Sree Krishna Swamy Temple, Buddha Junction, Mavelikkara. It was accidentally excavated during the early 20th century, from a paddy field near the Kandiyoor temple.[5][6] This statue is four feet high and is perhaps the biggest one found till date in Kerala. The head has engravings that resemble the helmet typically found on Greek warrior statues, whereas the body has markings from a sacred thread and the shoulder is partially draped with a shawl.[7]
  • Buddha statue at Bharanikkavu, found near the Bharanikkavu Devi temple located 8 km north-west of Mavelikkara. The statue is placed in a seated position and was elegantly carved. However, similar to the other statues discovered, the hair is not prominently engraved.
  • Buddha statue at Pallikkal, about 11 km from Adoor was found headless.
  • Buddha statue at Karunagapally, found in a temple tank, this statue is probably the best found till date. Unaware local people used this even to clean their clothes (like an ordinary stone) until 1980, when the Kerala State department of Archaeology acquired it. This statue is currently preserved at Krishnapuram Palace Museum, Kayamkulam.[2][8]

List of temples discovered

List of Inscriptions, Copper Plates and Artifacts with Buddhist heritage

The Paliyam copper plates (or Sreemoolavasam Cheppedukal from Sri Mulavasam) of the Ay King, Vikramaditya Varagunan (885–925 AD) in the fifteenth year of his rule, indicates that Buddhists enjoyed royal patronage and privileges until the 10th century CE, at least in South Kerala.[11][12]

Quote: "The plates were discovered by T. A. Gopinatha Rao. According to Elamkulam Kunjan Pillai, the plates date back to AD 929 (Makaram 7, Kollavarsham 104). But more credibility is to the finding of M. G. S. Narayanan that these date back to AD 898. According to the inscription, a huge number of land holdings were donated to the Sri Mulavasam. The upkeep of the lands are believed to have been vested with Prince Indukotha, an heir to the throne, during the reign of Veerakotha Kulasekhara. A mangalacharana praising Buddha, dharma, and sangha is inscribed in the plates. They also mention about Paranthaka Chola's attack on Kerala."[12]

Paliyam copper plate (Vikramaditya Varaguna)

List of colloquial words of potential Buddhist history

  • Palli, a Malayalam word that refers to the worship places of non-Hindus, i.e. a Church or Mosque or Synagogue. It is believed that originally palli had referred to a Buddhist (or Jain) place of worship in Kerala.[13]

List of current (non-Buddhist) religious sites with potential but unproven Buddhist history

  • Sabarimala, the abode of the celibate Ayyappan also known as Dharma Shastha. Some of the traditions of the Sabarimala pilgrimage bear resemblance to Buddhist traditions, an obvious example being the "Sharanam" chants "Swami Sharanam Ayyappa" similar to the Buddhist chants "Buddham Sharanam Gachami". Some Buddhists even consider Ayyappa as the incarnation of Buddha.[14] In 2018 Government of Kerala submitted before the Kerala High Court that there is a school of thought which believes that Sabarimala was a Buddhist center of worship and word 'Saranam' used to worship the deity derived from Buddhism[15]
  • Temples devoted to Bhadrakali or Durga (often simply called Devi or Bhagavathy in Malayalam) and Sree Krishna at former places of Buddhist influence. Several Bhadrakali temples have their main Bharani festival during the month of Kumbham (Feb–March). This devotion to Bhadrakali is most likely a living testament of the importance Buddhism gives to Mahākāla, similar to Hinduism.

List of traditions and practices of potential Buddhist origin

Theru or carriage at Chettikulangara Kumbha Bharani festival; quite similar to Buddhist pagoda
Kettukazhcha at Chettikulangara Kumbha Bharani festival

List of places (villages and towns) with ancient Buddhist presence

Modern Buddhist sites

See also


  1. ^ Nair, R. Madhavan; Nair, R. Madhavan (2012-02-05). "Rise and fall of Buddhism in Kerala". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 2017-12-21.
  2. ^ a b Sekher, Ajay (3 January 2010). "Buddhism in Kerala". Retrieved 20 December 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b Wipulasena, Aanya (18 January 2015). "Mystery of half-broken granite statue of Lord Buddha in Kerala". The Sunday Times, Sri Lanka. Retrieved 20 December 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ Harikumar, A (4 April 2005). "Studies on Buddha idols incomprehensive". The Hindu. Retrieved 20 December 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)[dead link]
  6. ^ "Then and Now: Buddha (Ancient Statue) at Mavelikkara". Retrieved 20 December 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  7. ^ "Kandiyoor Mahadeva temple". Retrieved 2017-12-21.
  8. ^ Sadasivan, S. N. (2000). A Social History of India. APH Publishing. ISBN 9788176481700.
  9. ^ Sekher, Ajay (29 December 2011). "Buddha as Krishna: Kilirur Temple and Kerala History". Retrieved 20 December 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  10. ^ Sankunni, Kottarathil. "കിളിരൂർകുന്നിന്മേൽ ഭഗവതി (Kiliroor Kunninmel Bhagavathy) – Aithihyamala". Sayahna Foundation. Retrieved 20 December 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  11. ^ "Paliyam Copper Plates". Archived from the original on 2017-06-07.
  12. ^ a b Gopinatha Rao T A (1911). Travancore Archaeological Series Vol 7–16: Two Inscriptions of Vikramaditya Varaguna.
  13. ^ Sekher, Ajay. "The Broken Buddha of Pattanam, Boddhisatvas in Disguise and the Silent Siddha of Kayikara: Iconology, Histories and Textuality of Buddha Idols in Kerala". Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  14. ^ Constance Jones and Ryan James (2014), Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Infobase Publishing, ISBN 978-0-8160-5458-9, page 58
  15. ^ "Sabarimala Temple was Buddhist temple, Kerala government informs High Court". The New Indian Express. Retrieved 2021-04-10.
  16. ^ Diplomat, Sugato Mukherjee, The (14 August 2015). "The Oracles of Malabar". The Diplomat. Archived from the original on 20 December 2017. Retrieved 20 December 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  17. ^ "Temples of Kannur". Retrieved 20 December 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  18. ^ Shaji, K. a (2014-12-29). "A people's temple for the Buddha". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 2017-12-21.
  19. ^ Abraham, Jomon. "Kerala's first Buddhist temple to open in Kottayam". Mathrubhumi. Retrieved 2021-04-10.
  20. ^ Reporter, Staff (2017-05-11). "A peep into Kozhikode's tryst with Buddhism". The Hindu. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 2021-04-10.
  21. ^ Alexander, P. C. (1947). "Palli Bana Perumal". Proceedings of the Indian History Congress. 10: 159–163. JSTOR 44137120.

External links

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