Not many in Tamil Nadu had heard of the small town, Kalavai, till the Kanchi Shankaracharya, Jayendra Saraswati, decided to go to the mutt there after his release from Vellore jail on bail on January 12.
The Kalavai mutt houses the samadhis of the 66th and 67th Shankaracharyas, Chandrasekharendra Saraswati and Madhavendra Saraswati, respectively.
The Shankaracharya's decision has made the roads leading to Kalavai busy and resulted in a windfall for local business.
Sarojamma, who runs a small tea and idli shop just a few kilometres from Kalavai told rediff.com that it was the first time she was seeing so many vehicles go by.
"Yesterday (January 12) and today (January 13) so many people had idlis here. In the afternoon, I made 20 extra lunches." She is obviously happy.
She said she saw the vehicle with the 'swamigal' going to the mutt in the evening. "He rarely comes here," she said.
Outside the mutt, there were dozens of vehicles parked, all belonging to various television channels waiting to get a glimpse of the shankaracharya.
Inside the mutt premises, which has a small house with several trees in the yard, two vans used by the Shankaracharya were parked. Moving around were devotees, all shirtless men clearly displaying their caste identity.
Also read: Faltering Faith
Text: Shobha Warrier | Photographs: Sreeram Selvaraj