Kalady is an important pilgrimage center, as it was the birthplace of Sri Adi Sankara, one of India's foremost philosopher saints who preached the monastic or Advaita philosophy.
Sri Sankaracharya was born here as the only son of Sivaguru and Aryamba, a Kerala Brahmin couple. His early life was marked by several miraculous exploits that singled him out for a divine role. It was he who played a major role in saving the Hindu religion from the ritualistic and superstitious state to which it had degenerated. At his birth, astrologers had predicted among other things, that he would become a 'sarvajana' or an all-knowing sage. The extraordinarily intelligent boy mastered the Vedas and completed his studies when he was merely 16 years of age. He then started his quest for truth and spent many years of his life preaching the Vedic Dharma as well as its universality and superiority. He established four 'maths' in four sections of the country - Sringeri, Dwaraka (Gujrat), Joshimath (Uttarakhand) and Puri (Orissa). His commentaries on the Upanishads, Brahmasutra and the Bhagavad Gita hold relevance even today. At the age of 32, Adi Sankara attained 'mahasamadhi' near Kedarnath in Uttarakhand.
Manickamangalam temple, one km north of Kalady, dedicated to Bhagavathi or Goddess Durga, Vellimanthulli temple, 2 km west of Kaladi, Malayattor church on a small hillock 8 km away.
Sankara Jayanti is celebrated for 5 days in April/May every year. The celebration includes several religious rites. Navaratri is celebrated for 9 days during September/October with music concerts, chariot festival ('rathostavam') and other festivities.
The annual festival of the Lord of Kalady — Lord Krishna Thrikalady appan — falls on January 6th (Thiruvonam star of Makaram). One distinct activity is that The Aaraatu of Lord Krishna (the river bath) has been taking place for centuries in the Holy Ghat where Kalady was born. It is also notable that the first Aarattu was done by Sree Sankara himself.