Karumadikuttan, Kerala’s link to Buddhism, in a state of neglect

As per historical accounts, Karumadi was known as Sreemoola Vasam, where Buddhist monks propagated Buddhism during the 9th and 10th century.
The Buddha statue, known as Karumadikuttan, installed at Karumadi near Ambalappuzha
The Buddha statue, known as Karumadikuttan, installed at Karumadi near Ambalappuzha(Photo | Express)

ALAPPUZHA: If someone made a list of important yet neglected religious and cultural sites in Kerala, the Karumadikuttan monument near Ambalappuzha would certainly make the cut.

The structure, located in the village of Karumadi at Thakazhi, is one of Kerala’s oldest connections to Buddhism. Located around 19km south from Alappuzha town, it is home to ‘Karumadikuttan’ (literal meaning: Boy from Karumadi), a 3-ft-tall black granite statue of Lord Buddha. It is missing the left arm.

Though home to an ancient and important link to the state’s history – the statue is believed to be as old as the 9th to 14th century – and a definite tourist attraction, the place remains without basic facilities. Despite witnessing good footfall every day, the monument does not have an information centre, toilets, street lights, or drinking water.

In 2014, Archaeology Department took measures to protect the over 1,200-year-old monument. It carried out maintenance work and built a compound wall and a resting hall. “However, the place still has no facilities for visitors,” said Nishu Boudh, the convener of the annual Buddha Purnima celebrations conducted at the monument. “One security guard was appointed for the monument. Meanwhile, the land allotted for the structure has been encroached upon. The district administration and tourism department should promote the monument,” said Nishu, adding, “Due to the absence of streetlights, the entire structure and the road leading to it is covered in darkness at night.”

Nishu said since 2014, the Kerala Buddhist Council, an apex body of various Buddhist organisations has been celebrating Buddha Purnima at Karumadi. Over 1,000 devotees from the state and outside take part in it, he said. This year, the celebration will be held on Thursday.

In 2014, Rajasekhran Pillai of Karumadi, who claimed he had a portion of the broken left hand of Karumadikuttan, handed it over to the archaeology department. It is being kept at Krishnapuram Palace in Kayamkulam.

As per historical accounts, Karumadi was known as Sreemoola Vasam, where Buddhist monks propagated Buddhism during the 9th and 10th century. As per historical documents, the statue was set up at that time, but was later lost.

The statue was discovered in 1930 by Sir Robert Bristow, a famous port engineer who developed Kochi port and Willingdon Island. He installed the statue on the land near the place where it was discovered.

On May 5, 1965, the Dalai Lama had visited Karumadi and confirmed that the statue was set up here to propagate Buddhism in Kerala. During his visit, the Dalai Lama handed over `6 lakh for the preservation of the statue.

The money was used to build the road leading to Karumadikuttan’s statue.

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