Tourists from Kerala are often enthusiastic to click photos with Buddha monks in the backdrop of beautiful monasteries when they visit Sikkim, Bylakkuppe, Nepal and Bhutan.
They then flaunt their social media pages with these pictures.
But many do not know Kerala, too, had Buddhist moorings centuries ago. The religion is almost non-existent in Kerala today, but we have quite a few relics and sites in the state that point to an interesting Buddhist link. And here’s a low-down on a few of them:
The temple at Karumady in Alappuzha houses a half-broken Buddha statue, which was even visited by the Dalai Lama, decades ago.
Apparently, this statue was abandoned in a stream called Karumady Thodu in the region for many years. British engineer Robert Bristow, who is best known for the development of Kochi port, initiated steps to protect it. The statue is housed inside a stupa, built reportedly with the patronage of the Dalai Lama.
Buddha Junction, Mavelikkara
The Buddha Junction at Mavelikkara has a 10th-century idol. Talk is that it was Swami Vivekanandan himself who took steps to preserve this idol, which was found in a pond of the region. There is also another three-foot tall statue at Bharanikavu Devi Temple in Mavelikara. The idols are considered proof of the region’s Buddhist cultural influence.
Idol at Krishnapuram Palace, Mavelikkara
The garden in front of the palace has a four-foot tall Buddhist idol, believed to be found in Maruthukulangara near Karunagappally. Even the Sastha statue in the palace is considered by some historians as that of Bodhisatva, who belongs to the Buddhist tradition.
‘Mannadi Buddha’ of Pathanamthitta
The Veluthambi Dalava Museum of Mannadi has a two-ft tall Buddha statue, which was apparently found from the Kallada River.